in an article about album from a birds eye view, cordae sitting on a convertible

‘From a Birds Eye View’ Makes Us Ask, Does Cordae Really Live Up to His Self-Proclaimed Hype?

The young rapper's newest album shows he has not yet lived up to the strong claims he makes about himself in his music.
February 19, 2022
6 mins read

Ever since he released the track “Old N*ggas” (a response track to J. Cole’s “1985”) back in 2018, Cordae’s name has been a topic of discussion among many in the hip-hop community. The song aimed to defend the position of rap’s younger generation in the game while also distinguishing Cordae from his peers.

His penmanship and confident demeanor suggested to many that Cordae is wise beyond his years. He seemed to be a foil to many young “SoundCloud” rappers that dominated the charts at the time. Cordae would receive multiple co-signs from people all across the hip-hop industry, ultimately building more anticipation for his debut album.

His Album Debut and Solid Foundation

Released in 2019, “The Lost Boy” would go on to sell 25,000 units in its first week, and its critical acclaim secured nominations at the 2020 Grammys for best rap song (for the track “Bad Idea” featuring Chance the Rapper) and best rap album. It effectively demonstrated Cordae’s versatility as an artist as he delved into elements of R&B, neo-soul and choir along with rap. While impressively weaving his way through multiple genres and distinct instrumentals, he explores his coming of age and the effects of fame on his relationship with his family as a whole.

Although it served as an amazing stepping stone for Cordae’s career, the album failed to establish his voice and set him apart from the rest of the game. Cordae managed to really wear his influences on his sleeve; his stylistic choices in beats evoke early Kendrick Lamar, and his rapping often sounds eerily similar to J. Cole — right down to the melody and cadence. Unfortunately, these songs’ attributes highlighted the featured artists more than Cordae himself. These features — which would merely offer a makeshift solution to his lack of a distinctive style — were a crutch for Cordae as he moved forward to his next album.

A Disappointing Follow-Up

Released earlier this year, “From a Birds Eye View” manages to leave Cordae no further from where he left off with “The Lost Boy” — at some points, it may even be a regression. Its sales seem to reflect this too, as the record sold only 20,000 units in the first week.

Rather than trying to cement his place in the rap game as someone people should get used to by bringing something new to the table, on “From a Birds Eye View,” Cordae continues to rely on emulating the sounds and styles of rappers he is inspired by. With his recent growth and success in the industry — from tracks with huge artists (like Freddie Gibbs, Lil Wayne, or Eminem) to big-time commercials to even founding his own record label, Hi-Level — Cordae spends a great deal of “From a Birds Eye View” calling for a celebration.

Knowing there is no real progression within his penmanship and performance as a rapper, any bit of hype Cordae seems to exude in these tracks comes off as a facade. A perfect example of this is his first single off “From a Birds Eye View,” titled “Super.

On the track, Cordae raps lines like:

“Every little thing I do is mad different.”

“I’m on some movement s—, y’all on some moment s—.”

“Entered this game and I came here to change it / Speak my beliefs, now they calling me dangerous.”

However, on a track that is so clearly trying to be a hit, it just seems that Cordae is delivering such bars with not much to back them up, giving his fans this hollow promise.

Compared to his previous record, it definitely felt like Cordae had less to say consciously and less of his overall introspective view of the world around him to offer. Within the more than two years since “The Lost Boy,” Cordae had his fans convinced that his subsequent work would be more than worth the wait, leaving the disappointment of this record to hit even harder. It seems Cordae had felt his debut was enough to prove himself in hip-hop, but he was sadly mistaken.

How Can and Will Cordae Ever Recover?

Cordae should not only follow his influences through his flow or beats; these influences should serve as a blueprint for what he should do next to connect with his audience. Taking from an earlier example — Kendrick Lamar. His sophomore album “good kid m.A.A.d city” solidified his place in rap for years to come and placed him far beyond his peers. Kendrick built off his debut “Section.80” and upped the production, lyricism, storytelling and so much more. No matter the possible ups and downs in his career years down the line, the album made sure that fans would always be connected to him. Like Kendrick, Cordae must prove to hip-hop culture that he is capable of producing greatness. After that, regardless of the turmoil his career may face, no one could take that accomplishment away from him.

On top of that, maybe all Cordae needs is a hit. With a solid hit, new fans should be flocking his way, and the only job from then on would simply be to retain their attention. Again, take another example from earlier: J. Cole. Despite the mixed opinions of the hip-hop community, J. Cole has managed to successfully push forward in his own lane for many years — all starting with his hit “Work Out” and him consistently putting out work on par or slightly above his previous discography to retain his audience.

Although his talents and wit are clear to see, Cordae still needs to validate the buzz his career has received by distinguishing himself from the rest of the industry. Taking too long to find this validation will only put him in a box of “corny” and “unoriginal’ rappers that will be difficult to break out of.

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