YBN Cordae’s The Lost Boy is my favorite hip-hop album of 2019. Every aspect of the music came together perfectly. The beats are engaging, Cordae’s energy is high, his flow is sharp, and best of all, his lyricism is on point. When Cordae raps, there’s never a dull moment. He is either giving you a passionate, fast-paced combination of bars, or he is calmly reflecting on his past struggles and journey throughout life. Either way, I enjoy the relatable and well-constructed verses. Every song is a well-illustrated description of the topic at hand, reminding me of a painting at an art museum. As a whole, the project is a consistently satisfying listen from start to finish.
One of my favorite songs on The Lost Boy is the outro, “Lost & Found.” It’s one long verse full of energy, with a hard beat and attention-grabbing bars. I always like to yell out the opening line, “switch up my lifestyle!” whenever I hear the song. It is not only catchy, but it is also an effective way of conveying his message. After taking you through a tour of the traumas and stressors in his life, Cordae decides to end on a triumphant note. It’s the type of song that motivates me to work towards having the same level of success as the artist.
On “We Gon Make It” (feat. Meek Mill), Cordae raps about his skills on the mic in a way that is convincing and original.
“Savior of the rap shit, the leader of the renaissance/Self appointed, well anointed from my endeavors/I’m eyeing cheddar, applying pressure, defying setups.”
Instead of generically saying he is the best, he uses a poetic rhythm, to go along with internal rhyming. He’s actually showing why he is one of the best new school rappers, rather than making an empty claim. When I hear these bars from Cordae, I actually believe him. Nothing is more satisfying than when a rapper can back up their braggadocio with skill.
On “Broke as F**k,” the producing duo “Take a Daytrip” give Cordae one of the most powerful beats I have heard in awhile. In a two-act epic, it starts as a heavy trap beat, matching Cordae’s energy as he spits about his hardships growing up. Around the two-minute mark, however, it completely switches up. Piano keys come in, creating a much lighter sound. Cordae transitions to a much calmer, reflective style, with bars like
“Mom and dad never had a damn thing, damn shame/Now I’m poppin’ champagne on a private jet, f**k an airplane.”
The way he can seamlessly switch to that triumphant sentiment from troubling memories such as “Grandma passed, had a heart attack, only 62/My cousin shot, got me paranoid, who to trust or not/Gave my brother twenty-five years, that really sucked a lot/Post-traumatic stress is building up…” is impressive.
These songs show all of the aspects of the human experience: anger, confusion, sadness, happiness, and celebration. Some of them have all of these emotions, and tie them together neatly in one complete package. With The Lost Boy, YBN Cordae shows us why he has the right to claim himself as the leader of rap’s “renaissance.” In a mainly dry year for the mainstream hip-hop landscape, this album stands out among the over-saturated crowd. I was already a fan before he released this, but I can now confidently say he is one of my current favorites. Keep it up Cordae, the new school is counting on you.
Favorite tracks: “Have Mercy,” “RNP,” “Broke as F**k,” “We Gon Make It,” “Lost & Found”
Album Rating: 8.5/10
Album Review By: Joshua Valdez