Written Before Listen
Cordae is a hip hop artist who is known mainly for his skill and technicality behind the mic. His wordplay, rhyme schemes, and flows are reminiscent of old school rappers like Nas and Mos Def but he tends to bring in a more modern approach to it. I always respected his lyricism and approach to hip hop and that made me enjoy his previous project, The Lost Boy. I always saw him as a young rapper with the potential to become one of the better rappers of the new decade but what he needs to do for that to happen is to expand his sound and let’s hope he does that hear. Without further ado, lets get into it.
Let me start by saying that Cordae’s lyrical prowess still remains. It isn’t stronger or weaker, but it’s about the same. When it comes to the subject matter, he does talk about what he talks about most, his past. Especially on the tracks “Mommas Hood” and “C Carter”. Other than that, most of the tracks are petty braggy or basic. The track “Today” is just Cordae’s attempt at a trap banger and the songs “Parables” and “Sinister” are just lyrical miracle tracks. Overall, I still think Cordae is a strong lyricist, but he needs to expand on it ASAP.
Now let’s talk about the production. There are a couple of guest producers on this thing and some of them are hit and some of them are miss. The first track “Jean-Michel” is co-produced by Raphael Saadiq who is a Neo-soul legend with a dense discography. On “Mommas Hood” we get this psychedelic Boom Bap beat with co-production from the Beat Butcha who is known for his work in the Griselda clan. The song “Want From Me” is produced by Jake One and the beat is solid but it sounds unfinished and desperate for something else. The song “Sinister” is produced by Hit-Boi (whos been on an obvious hot streak) but this beat is nothing special in my opinion. The song “Chronicles” is produced by another great producer Boi-1da but this might be one of the most generic beats on the album with its trap rhythms, obviously from splice’d guitar loop and flat bass. The last track on the album “Gifted” is produced by Take A Daytrip but this is easily one of their weakest beats in a large margin. It’s just way too forgettable. One thing I will say is that the beat for “Westlake High” is amazing. I love the soul chops, the drum break, and the cohesive thickness of the track. Other than that, the beats are rather solid or forgettable.
Now let’s get to the worst part of the album, the features. About half of the tracks include them but there’s only one that stands out and that’s the Freddie Gibbs feature on “Champagne Glasses”. The other features rather ruin the track completely like Eminem on “Parables” or Gunna with “Today”, or they punch insanely under their weight like Lil Wayne on “Sinister”, Roddy Ricch with “Gifted” and HER on “Chronicles”. Goddammit, I wish Cordae got better features on this album.
Now let’s talk about something I do like on this album. I’ve always liked how Cordae used some of his influences. On this album, the Nas and Kanye influence continues but there is way more Kendrick influence. Especially on the tracks “Jean-Michel” and “Mommas Hood”. There is also a lot of J Cole influence on the flows, especially on the track “Super”. Even though J Cole is not one of my favorites, I do think the way he emulates J Cole’s vibe and aesthetic is done pretty well. Despite how I feel about this album, I still like how he’s able to continue with his sound.
Now, let’s talk about a couple of my favorite tracks on the album. I enjoyed the track “Jean-Michel” a lot as Cordae just refuses to stop throughout the whole beat. The bars are on point and the beat is linear enough to keep you hooked. The final two tracks on the album (excluding the bonus tracks) are also solid. I like the Cordae and Freddie Gibbs collab and I also like Stevie Wonder’s harmonica solo at the end of it too, and once again, the beat for “Westlake High” is just too good to dislike. Other than that, Cordae is unapologetically punching under his weight on this album.
This was a disappointment. Not because it was terrible or anything but I expected to enjoy a good handful of these tracks. There really wasn’t a track where I was like “damn, this really goes hard” or even impacted me. Let’s hope Cordae escapes this problem when the next album comes along.