The Lost Boy
YBN Cordae may be riding high off his inclusion in XXL magazine’s esteemed Freshman Class, but it’s not like he doesn’t know what it’s like to be down and out. “The Lost Boy represents anyone who hasn’t found their path or their calling yet,” he tells Apple Music of his debut album. “That’s kind of where I was at a point in my life, just lost.” He could be talking about his time as a struggling college student (during which he also held a job at a fast-casual restaurant), but ever since he released “Old N*ggas,” a seething open-letter response track to J. Cole’s “1985,” life for the Maryland-raised MC has meant an increasingly large crowd patiently awaiting his next verse. With The Lost Boy, YBN Cordae’s mission is twofold: to tell the story of his own rise to purpose, complete with details of familial hurdles (“Family Matters”), the pressures facing his generation specifically (“Thousand Words”), and the power of perseverance (“Way Back Home”)—and to do so as cleverly as possible. Guests include MCs with a similar appreciation for complex wordplay (Chance the Rapper, Meek Mill, Pusha T), and there’s even a track (“RNP”) produced by J. Cole himself, a onetime foil turned ally. If there’s anything lost in the vision of YBN Cordae’s first album, it’s just how far the MC will go.