For a 21-year old to drop a debut album with an abundance of introspection and embracing humility through paying homage to family members, speaks to the person YBN Cordae is outside the studio. I was introduced to YBN Cordae’s music through my younger brother, who believed that this was the artist that was on the brink of erupting onto hip-hop glory whenever he finally released his first full-length album. My brother bumped tracks such as “Alaska”, “Kung Fu”, and “Target” on a daily basis. No matter how repetitive it got and how many times I told him to play different music, something deep inside me believed that Cordae was going to be special. Those inner thoughts were justified as Cordae promoted The Lost Boy with three outstanding singles, “Have Mercy”, “Bad Idea”, and “RNP”. To coincide with the singles, Cordae was a member of the 2019 XXL Freshman Class, which further improved the promotion and hype for this debut project. Shame on me for not giving YBN Cordae sufficient attention prior to this project because The Lost Boy is a masterpiece.
The album kicks off with a perfect introduction to who YBN Cordae is as an artist. The plethora of rhyme schemes and wordplay that Cordae is known for adds to the elegance of this listening experience. Cordae does not treat his listeners as stupid or casual. Whenever the word “skit” appears on an album, I tend to skip it because these one-minute bits play as filler on most projects. However, “Sweet Lawd” and “Grandma’s House” are must-listen as they add to the journey of Cordae searching for his purpose through deep roots of religion and family. Both “skits” are backed by beautiful piano chords and Cordae’s grandmother provides lovely vocals as she teams up with her grandson. The track serves as catharsis for Cordae and a final goodbye to his grandmother following her passing, which Cordae discusses his emotional struggles through the aftermath on the hard-hitting, “Broke as F**k”. While not a new topic to the rap game, it is refreshing whenever artists call out the filtered lives of the social media world on the track, “Thousand Words”. My favorite line on the entire album is the couplet, “The lifestyle you advertise was quite strategized. Make a minimal amount and then we maximize”. The Ty Dolla $ign feature on “Way Back Home” is one of my favorite moments from Ty in quite some time. His rapping is as solid as his famous singing. As the album starts to wrap up, Cordae throws an emotional uppercut into the experience.
“Been Around” sees Cordae thanking those around him that set the artist up to be in this position but he saves another heartfelt and cathartic track for two special women, his aunt and grandmother. “Family Matters” is the newest members to the list of songs that can force me to shed a tear. Through the writing and delivery, it is as almost we take the form of Cordae and we experience the same emotions he felt as he wrote and recorded this track. It is one of the most beautiful rap songs I have heard in a while and is the best track on the album.
“Nightmares Are Real” and “We Gon Make It” further hammer the storytelling talents of Cordae as he elaborates on his rough upbringing to deliver a message to the youth so that they can be candles and light their worlds. Pusha T’s feature is listenable but nothing memorable and Meek Mill takes a 360-degree turn as he provides some singing on the hook for “We Gon Make It”. The willingness for Meek Mill to take a different tone on a track is much appreciated. The closing track “Lost & Found” is not my cup of tea but Cordae is a lost boy now found as he is able to put a cap on his past and blossom into the upper echelon of the rap game.
Richest Tracks: “Bad Idea”, “RNP”, “Have Mercy”, “Wintertime”, “Sweet Lawd – Skit”, “Broke As F**k”, “Thousand Words”, “Way Back Home”, “Grandma’s House (skit)”, “Been Around”, “Family Matters”
Least Favorite Track: “Lost & Found”