A review of Cordae's debut studio album, The Lost Boy
In staunch opposition to his peers, Cordae skillfully showcases his lyricism and rapping repertoire in his debut album, The Lost Boy. He looks to be the kind of artist that will set himself apart in his generation much like J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar did. Despite having to leave his former label and name sake, YBN, it was absolutely the best choice, as Cordae is lightyears ahead in skill of anyone else affiliated with YBN. From here, we discover who Cordae is and why he is here to stay.
In an album of self-discovery, Cordae leads us on a journey through his life. In an interview with Sniffers, the artist says, “The Lost Boy is about family, things I’ve witnessed, things I’m going through, and also about things I see other people go through.” There are three phases in the album, first is the tough and humble upbringing. Second is the contemporary struggle going on in the artist life, and last is the reaping of benefits and a positive outlook on life looking forward as a result of the inevitable success.
From the very first track, Cordae comes out spitting fire. In one of the best songs on album, “Wintertime”, the artist explains why he is rising to the top and how he can tell. Combining his unique flow with a calming chorus, sets the tone for the rest of the album:
The dramatic change from the status quo (summer being warm), is a signifier that things are about to change. The next generation is coming no matter what, which is heavily alluded to in “Old Niggas”, a retaliation to J.Cole’s “1985”. Despite their idols being hypocrites, Cordae and his generation are facing unprecedented circumstances and pleads for at least an attempt of understanding of where they come from and to close the generational gap. He kinda just shrugs off the criticism of Cole, doesn’t take it too hard, and rather a personal attack, retaliates in an eerily calm manner.
In “Have Mercy”, we are introduced to Cordae’s faith. Heavily ingrained in his faith, Cordae believes that this is the root of his past and present success. Despite not knowing what exactly the future holds, his faith guides him forward and on the path to prosperity. At the same time, he is cautious as he knows life is very karmic and will turn around quickly, given the opportunity. This theme is highlighted in the next track on the album, a skit, called “Sweet Lawd” which is a more hymnic rendition of the first four lines of the chorus in the aforementioned song.
“Bad Idea” is a song reminiscent of the struggles faced growing up for both Cordae and his feature, Chance the Rapper. The success the have is a product of what they have endured and, unfortunately, they may not return home. The first line of the chorus, “And it might not be such a bad idea if I never went home again” is a reference to Gil Scott-Heron’s “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” (Genius). The following is an excerpt from the song:
Home is where the hatred is Home is filled with pain and it Might not be such a bad idea if I never Never went home again
Returning to the place of their hatred and/or pain would be one of the most difficult tasks, especially after making it out.
Rich People Problems
In the addicting single, “RNP” (rich nigga problems), Cordae and Anderson.Paak trade braggadocious verses harping on the way they flex. Flowing seamlessly, they create a hype anthem that becomes the trademark of the album. In a way, it signifies the beginning of the transition from the first phase to the second phase of the album, in which modern issues are the spotlight. Via Atlantic Records, Cordae says this song was brought about after a conversation with his father: “I was telling my dad about industry and rapper problems…He said to me, ‘Yo bro, you’re still living your dream. You make music for a living. These sound like rich ***** problems to me’. He put everything in perspective, so I wrote a song about it.”
In opposition to the last track, is “Broke as Fuck”. This song is about as straightforward as it gets. Cordae was broke as fuck. It was a trip down memory lane when he had to ride a bike to the store, having no gifts on Christmas, and not having the money to play AAU basketball. This song is my favorite because this Cordae sounds almost angry at his past and takes it out on this song. If you’ve been in a similar situation, you know where he’s coming from.
“Thousand Words” and “Way Back Home” are the official segue to the second phase. The first being about the facade that social media can present and the latter is about remaining humble in the face of success. In his skyrocket to fame, social media is certainly an aid, as he first broke out on Worldstar Hip Hop. However, the way we represent ourselves can be a facade. Cordae wants to stay true to who he is rather than being one of those fake Instagram influencers. Cordae is avid in the way he believes that all the flashy isn’t explicitly necessary to show your wealth. This mindset is similar to J.Cole and is vital to the self-preservation of the artist — especially, after they are done making music. With the break in “Grandma’s House” skit, we are introduced to the third phase, optimism.
“Been Around” is an ode to those that remained with Cordae through his ups and downs. Essentially, a thank you track to his loved ones. He even thanks his haters and enemies, as they also take part in his success — likely, as a driving factor of motivation.
He continues to give thanks in “Family Matters” with help from Arin Ray. Even though they were suffering in silence, by not bringing their worries to Cordae while he seeks fame and fortune, they no longer have to. He’s made it, their worries will be no more. For them, money and support is the catalyst to happiness. Cordae is noticeably appreciative of his late grandmother, who was his biggest supporter. She is mentioned throughout the album in a very loving capacity and even features in the “Grandma’s House” skit.
In the outro, “Lost & Found”, Cordae has finally found himself — the lost boy is officially found. The flow emulated in this song is almost immaculate as it is addicting. The song, consisting of just one verse, is a quick and cutthroat way to close out the album.
With a smooth mix of vicious bars and soothing melodies, Cordae creates one of the best debut albums in recent memory. Nearly 2 years after its release, it is rumored that a new Cordae album will drop in 2021. It is sure to be a hit just based off the singles dropped recently, “The Parables” and “Gifted” which features Roddy Ricch. Cordae will take the rap game by storm soon, and when he does, don’t say I didn’t warn you.