By Nick Sligh
When looking at rappers under 25 years old, Cordae might be my pick for most talented. Between a heartfelt delivery, quality lyricism and a versatility in flows, Cordae possesses a handful of attributes that make him an emerging star. The young rapper from North Carolina is quickly emerging as one of the most skilled and promising artists in the genre.
Originally a member of the YBN collective, Cordae has now undergone an official stage name change (removing the YBN moniker) and is focusing solely on his own individual career. In his former trio with YBN Nahmir and YBN Almighty Jay, a young Cordae contributed to their lone full-length project as a group: “YBN: The Mixtape.” Frankly, the mixtape had many more bad songs than good ones, with the handful of contributions from Cordae being some of the limited bright spots. Cordae’s decision to move on with his individual career was absolutely the correct one. Despite some of the fun tracks the trio created, there was so much untapped potential for him that could only be realized through an individual career.
In July of 2019, Cordae’s anticipated debut studio album arrived. The introspective and refined project was genuinely one of the better rap debuts that I have heard in a while. “The Lost Boy” showed Cordae very comfortable in his position as an artist. Emotionally potent deliveries, thoughtful writing and entertaining production selections allowed the album to feel much more like an offering from a mid-career veteran in rap, as opposed to the 22-year-old that Cordae was at the time. The ability to make versatile bangers was made clear on songs like trap-influenced “Broke as F*ck” and “Have Mercy,” as well as the funk-infused and Anderson .Paak-assisted “RNP.” However, a lot of the debut’s greatness came from the more reflective and introspective tracks. Songs like “Thanksgiving” (one of my favorite songs of the last few years), “Bad Idea” and “Nightmares Are Real” gave the album much of the character and soul that made it so special.
Now with his sophomore album on the way, Cordae has released a four-track selection to hold fans over until the upcoming release. The “Just Until….” EP consists of four loose tracks that will not be present on the full-length release, but still give a great insight to some of the music that Cordae has been working on and provides a couple of intriguing features from all-time rap greats Q-Tip and Young Thug.
Here are my track-by-track reactions and overall initial impressions of “Just Until…..”
Cordae: “Just Until….” (April 22, 2021)
- “More Life” ft. Q-Tip
Two primary things stand out on the first track: just how odd Q-Tip’s hook sounds and the fact that Q-Tip doesn’t even have a verse. The hook sounds like Q-Tip phoned it in from a hospital bed, and ironically on a song titled “More Life,” it sounds completely lifeless. I wish I could have heard an actual verse from him –– one of my favorite rappers and artists of all time –– rather than just the incredibly strange hook. The hook is really distracting and detracting, and I wish that it could have been replaced, mixed differently or just removed. Regardless, Cordae delivers a couple of solid verses over the relaxed beat.
- “Dream in Color”
The smooth beat and the subtle sample build the foundation for a really impressive second track. “I dream in color, and I sleep on a canvas.” Cordae comes in with a vintage delivery on the first verse, follows with a heartfelt chorus and then comes back with another great verse. This is the kind of production that allows Cordae to thrive.
- “Wassup” ft. Young Thug
Although this track will be the most popular of the EP because of the Young Thug feature and the trap beat, it doesn’t do anything special for me. The production is decent, but is a generic trap beat. The chorus has some bounce to it, but literally probably took fifteen seconds to write. The structure of the song is pretty entertaining, with Cordae and Thug trading some basic bars back and forth with pretty solid chemistry. Not a bad song, and still catchy, but I really would have liked to see a little bit more of an adventurous take on this one, as it felt like just a quickly made safe-play trap song.
- “Thornton Street”
The final track is a great way to end things. The up-pitched soul loop and the boom-bap percussion allow Cordae to flourish with heartfelt bars. When Cordae gets sentimental and reflective, he hardly falters. The verses and chorus are effortless and very fitting for the atmosphere of the track. In the last line of the EP, Cordae appears to reveal the title of his upcoming album, “From A Bird’s Eye View.”
Overall, I thought that this EP largely served its purpose for Cordae. It provided a couple of really good loose tracks that apparently didn’t make the cut for his next album, and this project provides his fans with some material to hold them over until the album. There are sparks of his impressive skill set on these songs. The tough thing with a 4-track EP is that a couple of mediocre tracks can really weigh things down, and that’s what happened here to some extent. Between the painful hook on “More Life” and the fairly generic “Wassup,” the album certainly isn’t great all the way through. With that being said, “Dream in Color” and “Thornton Street” were still great, impressive, soulful additions to the project and really elevated the compilation. I remain extremely excited about what Cordae has in store for his sophomore album and am really expecting something special.
Favorite Songs: “Dream in Color,” “Thornton Street”
EP Score: 72/100
Check out this Spotify playlist and like it to follow along with some of my favorite songs of 2021 as the year progresses!