With rumblings of his sophomore album underway, Cordae opens up about some of the music that helped shaped his artistry.
When Cordae first gained attention with the J. Cole flipping "Old N**gas," many were quick to put the young lyricist on their radar. If only for what he seemed to represent, a young voice that prioritized lyricism and actually carried respect for those who came before him. Considering he initially came up during an era where SoundCloud hip-hop (and disrespect of the OGs, for that matter) was at the height of its popularity, Cordae appeared to be a rare sort of contemporary rapper.
In hindsight, it feels as if those early moments helped solidify him in the eyes of several legendary artists, including Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and J. Cole. And he's only really getting started, having recently finished up with dropping his debut album The Lost Boy. Now, with rumblings of a sophomore release on the horizon, Cordae hit up Zane Lowe's Beats 1 show for an extensive conversation on his own experiences as a longtime student of the game.
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"Jay-Z's music was the soundtrack of my childhood and me growing up and, as I grow older, I would always go back to it and just realize how brilliant it was and how much I really learned," praises Cordae, singling out Blueprint as one of the albums that shaped him. "I was really growing up wearing Rocawear, wearing Sean John, you know what I'm saying, Velour suits, throwing up the rock sign at eight years old, you know what I'm saying?"
That's not to say he didn't have love for Jay's former rival Nas. "It Was Written is just my ... it's my personal favorite Nas album," he reveals. "You know what I'm saying? And “The Message,” "Fading thugs, no love, you get the slug." You know what I'm saying? Just how he comes in with that mafioso style. You know what I'm saying? That's just one of my favorite all time Nas songs."
It's clear that Cordae values the study of history, as he puts his own appreciation for hip-hop's cultural legacy in a deeper perspective. "History repeats itself, the cycle continues," says Cordae. "And so, just by watching certain patterns, you can sort of pick bits and pieces from their story that you can apply to your own journey and not trying to walk in somebody else's shoes, but just studying and learning, because in whatever career field, I'm sure you know all the legendary radio hosts, you know what I'm saying? I'm sure you study them and that's why you are where you are today."
For more from Cordae, be sure to peep the entire conversation with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 below.