Humans have naturally had a battle between older and younger generations. "Back in my day" is a saying that probably dates back to the beginning of mankind. Time continues to pass, and the disagreements between the youth, the elderly, and everyone in between never stops. As younger generations continue to grow into adults, we are beginning to see that some of them are finding a way to take the torch from the old heads and run with it. And as we dig deeper, we see that a lot of us really have the same goal, which is trying to make a better future for ourselves and the people around us.
The culture of rap music is constantly evolving, yet it is also cyclical. If we go back to the beginning stages of hip-hop, we got the very simple lyrics when Wonder Mike said "I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop and you don't stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jump the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat." And now in 2018 we've got guys like Lil Pump bringing the simple lyrics back when he says "GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG! SPENT THREE RACKS ON A NEW CHAIN (YUH!) MY BITCH LOVE TO DO COCAINE (OOOH!)"
In history we have also been blessed with pure street poetry by guys like RZA, Nas, and Tupac who brought incredible lyricism to rap music. The ups and downs of rap music have been so incredibly drastic that we have seen it die and revive at least once a year since its birth. But that is what makes it beautiful. It is not supposed to be perfect, it's not supposed to be accepted by everyone, it's not even supposed to always have some underlying message. Rap music is a living, breathing organism that is forever changing, and a new young artist is trying to do his part to help it's growth.
YBN Cordae is a 20 year old rapper out of Maryland who is attempting to show the world that there is promise for the future of hip-hop. He dropped his first few tracks in 2016 onto his Soundcloud, which showed just a small preview of what is to come. His first track "About Me" is somewhat of him contemplating what it is going to be like once he blows up, as if he has already envisioned it a million times over and knows it will come to fruition.
Moved to the burbs necessary bettered the living
As I mentioned earlier, guys like Lil Pump are taking heat from the older generations for simply what has been done since the beginning of hip-hop itself. J Cole recently released a diss track to Lil Pump, trying to teach him a lesson on how to carry himself as an artist and how his words impact the youth. And in many ways, he is right. But YBN Cordae told Cole why he should pump the brakes on all the judgement on his track "Old Niggas."
Bridging this gap between generations is going to be extremely difficult. Especially when many of these kids are dressing as crazy as they are, or have tattoos and piercings all over their face, or their hair is in some whacky fashion. But as we look back in time, rappers have always looked stupid, this is nothing new. RUN DMC made it cool to wear tracksuits, Flava Flav wore a clock as a necklace, Busta Rhymes had some of the wildest hair styles in rap history, Nelly wore jerseys ten sizes too big, Soulja Boy wore Yums shoes, New Boyz made it cool to wear tight fitting clothes. Like I said, this is nothing new.
And honestly, my boy J Cole looks like a rich bum right now. So he can't really talk about how any of these kids are looking. But YBN Cordae found a way to respectfully respond to Cole while still dropping major facts. In this video he says "Let's take it back when hip hop originated and old niggas said it was wack, they couldn't take it and called it a little trend, said it wouldn't last now it's the number one genre as the time passed."
But this is just the beginning for the kid. What actually originally put me onto him was his freestyle he did with the LA Leakers. No pen. No notepad. No phone. All off the top of his head. Even if it was bars he had written before, he spit them on the spot over three separate beats just to show his versatility. One of those beats being Lil Pump's banger "Esskeetit."
Someone had posted a one minute clip of the video with your typical "OMG this guy killed this *fire emoji*" caption. Most of the time I won't even click on them because of how often these posts are terrible. But it was early in the morning and my son was still asleep so I decided to click on it and listen to it at a low volume. The caption was right, the kid bodied it. So I watched the video in it's entirety which you can find here.
He is longevity chasing while all of these other artists are out here chasing clout and viral fame. This guy is in it for the long haul, and his most recent single is about him kicking the door down and imposing his presence onto the scene.
Produced by Take a Daytrip, "Kung Fu" could be the first page that is turned onto a new and improved generation of hip-hop. This track is a perfect mix of simplistic rhymes and lyrical bars. The melodies flow smoothly over the beat as if the vocals are a part of the beat itself.
I'm a thief in the night, pray to Jesus to Christ
The story telling ability is one of the rarest traits to find in hip-hop. Guys can really be from the streets and rap about what they've seen and gone through, but if they don't have the vocabulary or linguistics to bring to the track, it becomes hard for us to see their vision. YBN Cordae paints a vivid picture with his lyrics, and considering his age and the small sample size we currently have, it is only right to believe that he is only going to improve as time goes on.
As he attempts to shatter all judgements of this new age of rap, he will have to fight for respect from people of all ages, backgrounds, and musical taste. I have recently come to realize that it is time to stop judging these kids on their musical stylings and how they choose to express themselves through their art. As the world is constantly evolving, music will continue to do the same. And I hope I'm on the right side of history with YBN Cordae.
Play this shit at the highest volume possible...
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.