‘Raise the Bar’ is VIBE Hip-Hop Reporter Preezy Brown’s New Music Friday column. Each week he picks one Hip-Hop song or album that deserves your attention all weekend (but don’t worry, he’s also got a roundup of honorable mentions below).
Releasing his debut album, The Lost Boy, in 2019, Cordae, who has already racked up a pair of Grammy nods for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song, has been hailed as one of the most promising scribes of this era, by generations past and present. Initially rising to prominence alongside his former YBN brethren, Cordae chose to fly solo, leaving the YBN fold in 2020. Thus far, he’s soared even higher now that he’s his own man. And after nearly two years of anticipation, Cordae’s flight continues on his sophomore effort, From a Birds Eye View—which passes my first listen test with flying colors.
Opening the album with “Shiloh’s Intro,” which features a clip of an incarcerated comrade reeling off an impassioned freestyle via collect-call, Cordae subsequently paints pictures on the aptly titled “Jean-Michel.” Named after the late Black American artist, the first proper song on the album is powered by terse piano keys and complex rhyme spills.
On “Mama’s Hood,” which finds the rapper paying tribute to a slain friend who was gunned down in his Montgomery Village stomping grounds, Cordae makes a candid admission: “Confident although I find myself compressed/ Overthinking, worrying, I must confess.” The song is a testament to his knack for balancing bravado with vulnerability.
Dreams of tricked-out whips, pricey wristwear, and the finer things are realized on the twangy “C Carter,” one of the more impressive offerings on From a Birds Eye View. Immediately following that track is the 24-year-old’s Lil Wayne collaboration, “Sinister,” which features a pulsating soundscape provided by Hit-Boy for Cordae and his costar to volley couplets over. It’s undoubtedly a bucket-list moment for the young rhymer, and a high point on the project.
A varied mix of features are included on the album. Gunna pops up on the braggadocios heater “Today,” and Freddie Gibbs rears his head on the plush offering “Champagne Glasses,” which includes a rare outing from R&B and soul icon Stevie Wonder. But in terms of collaborations, the real jewel here is “Chronicles,” which pairs Cordae with vocalist H.E.R. and Chi-Town spitter Lil Durk. A guitar-laden number that finds its host and H.E.R. delivering harmonious grooves while Durkio extends his streak of riveting guest spots, “Chronicles” has the makings of a dark-horse hit that will surely get consistent spins on my personal playlist.
With his respective Roddy Ricch and Eminem collabs “Gifted” and “Parables (Remix)” tacked on at the end of the album for good measure, Cordae leaves no stone unturned on From a Birds Eye View. In my mind, the finished product was more than worth the wait.
There are many qualities that determine the potential greatness of an emcee; one being the ability to take excerpts of their innermost thoughts and embed them within their music. When an artists’ lyrics can conjure a visual snapshot in the listener’s mind, it’s an experience that creates a connection between both parties. That connection is necessary, as it determines whether the public will deem you worthy of being mentioned in proximity to the best to ever do this sh*t.
Among the current crop of rappers with a knack for finding common ground in their music is Cordae, who continues that trend with From a Birds Eye View. The album effectively raises the bar not only for this New Music Friday, but for other rap releases in its wake.
Check out some other notable Hip-Hop releases from this week’s New Music Friday below:
Jim Jones – Gangsta Grillz: We Set the Trends
Earl Sweatshirt – SICK!