By: Ethan Hofer, Staff Writer
[Atlantic Recording Corporation; 2022]
Key tracks: “Shiloh’s Intro”, “Today”, “Sinister”
When the YBN collective started its mainstream journey in 2017, YBN was widely known for their fast-paced, hard-hitting trap music from popular members YBN Nahmir and Almighty Jay. However, a member of this collective, Cordae, was a change of pace from the rest of the members as he attempted to deliver more conscious lyricism to tell his story and possibly relate to the listener, taking inspiration from fellow rappers J. Cole and Eminem. In 2019, we saw a continuation of this theme from Cordae with his debut album The Lost Boy, which gave glimpses of amateurism within his writing and rapping while faintly experimenting with new sounds. From A Birds Eye View, allows us to see Cordae with a bit more maturity and experience under his belt, something that unfortunately did not translate to talent on this album.
The album opens up with “Shiloh’s Intro”, which features Cordae’s near-and-dear incarcerated friend Shiloh Young rapping about his personal life in the streets, staying true to his gangster lifestyle as he raps, “ ‘Cause I could’ve snitched on the beat to get me out the can.” This is one of the very few highlights of the album, as Cordae comes off as dull and uninteresting in the tracks following.
“Today”, which features Gunna, is at best, a reach for mainstream appeal, coming off with a mind-numbingly boring chorus mixed with a mediocre beat on a track where he repeatedly raps about working hard to get money and reminisces back to his childhood. Gunna tops Cordae’s energy on the track, seemingly making a much catchier flow to make this track at least somewhat bearable. “Sinister”, with Lil Wayne, is a switch from the wearisome effort that is plastered all over this album. The energy seems to finally come alive as Cordae gets surprisingly aggressive with his flow, seemingly attacking the beat, rather than riding with it, as we see Lil Wayne’s influence at work.
Within this project, there are a handful of boring, unenthusiastic songs and then there are ones like “Parables (Remix)” which are pretty unbearable. The track starts out with a generic trap beat over Cordae’s shallow, repetitive rapping that only becomes interesting when he talks about getting Shiloh “out of the can.” To make matters worse, Eminem makes an appearance on this track, and right away, it gave me the sudden urge to bang my head against the wall for 10 minutes straight. His braggadocious and cringe-filled verse begins by unsurprisingly dissing rappers 6ix9ine and Meek Mill while rapping in a flow that makes him sound like an emotionless robot. In a clever attempt, he also painfully raps, “Like Obama’s kids, I came outta my shell (Michelle)” which is a bar that could have definitely been left off this album and one I wish I never heard.
Cordae’s sophomore album fell quite short of any progression from The Lost Boy and as a whole, it was forgettable. Creativity felt completely left off this project, and there were many failed attempts at clever, conscious wordplay. The bits of “old-school” style rap are overused at this stage in hip-hop and limits his potential for any individuality. On the next one, we hope to see some more out of the box thinking from Cordae.