Hip-hop has a reputation for new artists dissing their elders, but Cordae earned his spot by respecting his forefathers. Born Cordae Amari Dunston in 1997, the Raleigh, North Carolina native moved to Suitland, Maryland, with his family as a child and dug into hip-hop after hearing his father bump ‘90s East Coast legends. He self-released several mixtapes as a teenager under the moniker Entendre and started running with the YBN (Young Boss N****z) rap collective while visiting Los Angeles. Then, in 2018, he remade songs by two rap icons. First there was a remix of Eminem’s “My Name Is” to introduce his new alias. And more pointedly, when J. Cole made “1985” to advise new rappers to take their careers seriously, Cordae responded with “Old N****s,” telling his OGs to help young artists instead of judging them. Both videos went viral, and Cordae quickly became an ambassador for rap’s Gen Z. After running the year with more solo singles, tours with Juice WRLD and Lil Mosey, and YBN: The Mixtape with his crew, he released his solo debut album, The Lost Boy, the following summer. It explores tender personal details like his battle with drug addiction and his work as a server at TGI Friday’s, and pairs youthful energy with a sharp lyrical flair that evokes the rappers he grew up listening to. And he holds his own alongside stars like Chance the Rapper and Meek Mill. The YBN posse abruptly disbanded in 2020, so Cordae dropped the initials from his name—but his high-grade lyricism and passion for bridging generational gaps aren’t going anywhere.
BORNAugust 26, 1997