YBN Cordae steps into his debut album with confidence, hunger and extreme determination, and he has mastered the art of the remix. His bravery in remixing some of the biggest names in hip-hop, such as Eminem and J. Cole, distinguishes him from other artists. YBN Cordae now has a producer credit from J. Cole and a spot on XXL’s 2019 Freshman Class list.
On “The Lost Boy,” YBN Cordae reflects and agonizes over moments when he didn’t believe in himself. The first track on the album, “Wintertime,” unpacks the musings inside YBN Cordae’s mind. He magically inserts moments of self-assurance next to deep-rooted insecurities and anxious thoughts. The flow on “Wintertime” matches the title, as YBN Cordae spits seamlessly like the burn of a cold wind.
His internal struggle comes alive as he touches on the pressure young adults feel to get their degree and know exactly what they should be doing with their life immediately after high school. YBN Cordae finds strength in the journey toward self-exploration and discovery.
He raps, “I was just in college, struggling to get a good meal. I made it out the gutter, then that’s all because of my skills. All because of the glory, n—. Let me tell my story.
“I am not that n— with potential, I am not a worry. I was lost like Dory, but now I’m finally found. I was addicted to Xans to calm anxiety down.”
The lyrics portray the intense cycle of overthinking. For those who struggle with anxiety, it can feel like they are constantly fighting their own mind. Anxious minds work in an over-calculated way, and pushing away negative fears or ideas about oneself becomes exhausting.
In the first half of YBN Cordae’s lyrics, he speaks on his inner belief that he can make it as a rapper. Then, the anxiety sweeps in, and YBN Cordae is suddenly crippled with uncertainty and the feeling that he doesn’t have the skills or power to make it.
YBN Cordae has been called the generational bridge of today’s hip-hop music. His sound showcases real lyricism with a profound intensity of soul and depth. YBN Cordae discusses mental health issues without idealizing them — he puts reality first. He uses his words as a platform to talk about what’s important to him, not what’s important to most rappers.
Many rappers today only touch on the use of drugs, sex or money to compensate for pain or internal struggle. Throughout “The Lost Boy,” YBN Cordae proves that his backbone is his bloodline. Family is a crucial theme that marinates throughout the album. His unwavering honesty and gratitude are at the forefront on the track “Family Matters.”
Cordae speaks on how the tunnel vision that he harnessed, once he figured out rapping was his dream, blocked his family out of his sight and priorities. The track features Arin Ray, who brings out the nostalgia in the track by the sound of his cracked voice.
“It be the ones that’s closest that go through the most s—t. Maybe it’s me that’s been selfish. I don’t why I can’t help it. It’s been hard for me to see what you are going through; it’s tiring. You have been suffering, you’ve been suffering. No more suffering in silence.”
YBN Cordae’s maturity to rise above his pride and see how he could have taken advantage of his family’s unconditional love is refreshing to hear from a young male rapper.
On this track, YBN Cordae mentions how he knew his family members were in pain from experiencing domestic abuse, poverty and abandonment from nonexistent fathers. Yet, while his family members were going through all this turmoil, YBN Cordae was discovering that his purpose in life was music. His family stood there, emotions bubbling, but they didn’t let their pain rise to the surface so they could support and love YBN Cordae in the pursuit of his dreams.
He raps, “Her baby dad beat her a—, what I hate to see. Her black eye as I cried, it’s a daily thing. Here I am chasing my dreams. Ignorant with bliss, worrying about plays and streams. The crazy part is they don’t even say a thing. They don’t want me to worry, just go and make the cream.”
On this track, he realizes that his family was there for all the stages of his life. They were present while he was in college, switching majors and working part-time jobs in despair. His family was present when he found his purpose, and when his craft became his focus because he needed it to stay hopeful. YBN Cordae teaches that failing to acknowledge your loved ones’ pain leads to invisibility.
YBN Cordae uses his music to make amends and promote a message of appreciation and kindness, and “The Lost Boy” is storytelling at its finest. Once you press play, you will be personally introduced to YBN Cordae — he explains his morals and his struggles as he shakes your hand. He is an old soul, but his music isn’t outdated and irrelevant.
If you’re in college and feel like you are wasting your time or are overcome with fear because you can’t find your passion, listen to his words, and close your eyes in solidarity. YBN Cordae’s “The Lost Boy” teaches that your purpose will reveal itself with time and patience.
YBN Cordae is an up-and-coming rapper, yet he chose to make his debut album raw. He didn’t care if his subject matter was trendy, popular or going to be a massive hit on the charts.
He spoke on his intention behind creating “The Lost Boy” in an interview.
“Man, I just wanted to express myself and be vulnerable. That’s just what I found myself doing, just being a vulnerable artist, person and human being. F— an artist, I’m a human being at the end of the day. It’s just like speaking my truths.”