It’s almost Cordae season. He’s announced that his sophomore record is “almost done” but in doing so, he’s dropped a new project to keep fans happy in the meantime. Just Until… is an effortless four-track drop that features Young Thug and Q-Tip and will definitely do the trick while we wait.
Over the past few years, Cordae has gone from an aspiring bedroom rapper to one of the most lauded rappers. As he enters a new era, we thought we’d look back on how he got to where he is.
His Teenage Mixtapes
Before he was Cordae, he was building his skill under the name of Entendre. Over the space of three years, he released three mixtapes Anxiety, I’m So Anxious and I’m So Anonymous. This was before he joined YBN and it’s a forgotten part of his career for most fans. He told Complex back in 2018 that Entendre was the “worst rap name in history”.
Cordae started to really make waves when he started releasing remixes of classic rap tracks. His take on Eminem’s My Name Is… introduced him properly as a rapper who people should start taking very seriously. “This is history,” he raps as he starts the track before dropping quick-fire bars that show how technically gifted he is. He followed that straight up with a response to J. Cole’s 1985 called Old N*****, showing off once again but also demonstrating just how fearless he is by taking on the masters.
YBN: The Mixtape
Cordae had built some serious momentum and he capitalised on it with YBN: The Mixtape, teaming up with crew members YBN Almighty Jay and YBN Nahmir. The mixtape put them on the commercial scene with the trio teaming up with the likes of Gucci Mane, Asian Doll and Machine Gun Kelly. While all three had their moments, it’s Cordae who really rose to the occasion. His track Kung Fu became one of the hallmark tracks of the project with the rapper letting loose over a flawless Daytrip beat. The mixtape was one spot off cracking the top 20 in the US.
2019 XXL Freshman List
In 2019, Cordae followed in Nahmir’s footsteps by appearing in the XXL Freshman List. It was a massive year with DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty and more also featuring but Cordae held his own in both his freestyle and cipher. The vintage beat he freestyles over during his cipher was perfect for Cordae’s hard-hitting rap style.
The Lost Boy
In July of 2019, Cordae came through with his most potent statement yet. The Lost Boy, his debut album, was an ambitious and victorious project the placed him directly in rap’s frontline. The features alone showed that he was being taken very seriously as a potential defining voice of this rap generation. Meek Mill, Anderson .Paak, Ty Dolla $ign, Chance The Rapper, and Pusha T all featured while J. Cole and Daytrip had production credits.
The album garnered rave reviews and landed Cordae his first top 20 record. The singles also popped off, particularly the .Paak-featuring RNP which now has over 100 million streams on Spotify. Stylistically, he proved that he could be both playful and potent moving from something groovy like RNP to something autobiographical like Lost & Found.
Following the release of the album, Cordae was nominated for two Grammy Awards - an impressive feat for his debut record. He was up for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song eventually losing to Tyler, The Creator and 21 Savage respectfully. His teary reaction to being nominated for the awards is still one of the best things on the internet.
Cordae Leaves YBN
Last year, Nahmir announced that YBN had disbanded and Cordae dropped the YBN from his name. “Sometimes as friends, you grow apart and you have different visions for what you wanna do and that’s ok, there’s no love lost,” Cordae told TIDAL about the split. Since then, he’s been operating simply as Cordae while Nahmir and Almighty Jay have continued to use the name.
Allow us to put on our TMZ hat for a second. Cordae met tennis superstar Naomi Osaka around 2019 and they dated in secret for a little bit. Since then, they’ve become one of the coolest couples on the planet and Cordae has been spotted on occasion watching Osaka collect titles in the arena - most notably when she took out the 2020 US Open championship. Cordae gives Osaka a shout-out on his new song Dream In Color rapping, “My girl would forfeit a tennis match to meet my grandmama / Man, she truly a keeper.”
Gifted with Roddy Ricch
Rap is a fast-moving game. Cordae, however, takes his time. Ricch had a massive year last year with the success of The Box and he rounded it out by collaborating with Cordae on the triumphant Gifted. It’s now one of Cordae’s biggest songs, particularly heartening to see given that both Cordae and Ricch were part of the XXL Freshman list together.
“See you soon. Album almost done,” reads the cover of Cordae’s new project Just Until... It’s a collection of songs designed to keep fans fed until he’s ready to drop his sophomore record. In true Cordae fashion, however, it’s far more polished and accomplished than something designed to buy time. It’s a soulful, mature EP that brings in Q-Tip and Young Thug, expanding his collision with some of the most influential rappers of our time. The fact he can go toe-to-toe with both Q-Tip and Thug shows that he really is bridging the gap between old school and new school rap.