Since the release of Cordae’s debut album ‘The Lost Boy’, the twenty-four old has received two Grammy nominations, and collaborated with some of the biggest artists in the world including Roddy Rich, Eminem, and Young Thug, amongst others. As well as that, he’s set up his own record label of which he takes 100% ownership.
Another career path was never on the cards for Cordae; he made his first mixtape at 15 and was voted Most Likely To Be Famous in his Middle School yearbook. Music was always the only option for him. - While Cordae may not be that young kid chasing his dreams anymore - “I got a lot more to lose now,” he says - that meticulous attention to detail and passion for the music hasn’t been lost with the added pressure of fame and success.
Fast forward to today, Cordae has just released his sophomore album ‘From A Birds Eye View’ which has the feeling of a truly career-defining moment on his already stellar resumé...
Clash got the chance to speak with Cordae to discuss his latest album, personal development and his love for London.
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How are you feeling about the release of ‘From A Birds Eye view’? Does it feel any different to the release of ‘A Lost Boy’?
I feel good, I’m not really nervous this time. The first time it’s kind of like you’re a virgin you know what I’m saying? With the first album, you’re going into something new you don’t really know what to expect or if people are gonna like you or not. With the second album thankfully, I already got my own set of fans that I know I can count on. On the first I didn’t really have a foundation to stand upon. I took a lot more time honestly on creating this album than I did the last one.
On the album you seem to rap from different perspectives, was that difficult for you at all?
Most of it is things that I’ve gone through, things that I’ve witnessed and things that I’ve experienced which I'm bringing you 'From A Birds Eye View'. But it is also a multi-perspective album like speaking from a woman’s perspective who wants more on ’Want From Me’, on ‘Today’ where I'm speaking on times where I wasn’t as fortunate as I am today. “My card ain’t decline today so the sun gon’ shine today”, I'm just so thankful that my card was accepted when I went to Starbucks or wherever it may be. Literally every song has a direct memory and real-life experience that translated directly into this record.
On 'Jean Michel' you say ”haunted by these goals I'm trying to accomplish, underrated overhated I'm tired of the nonsense” do you sometimes feel like you don’t get the respect you deserve in hip-hop?
I don’t know, every artist feels like they’re underrated in a way you know that’s just the plight of an artist, it’s like Erykah Badu says “I’m an artist and I'm sensitive about my shit”. Every artist is gonna feel like they’re underrated. Until I reach stadiums, I'm gonna feel underrated.
Towards the end of the album especially on ‘Westlake High’, you seem like you begin to come to terms with accepting that everything isn’t always going to be perfect and just living in the moment, has that been a difficult journey to accept that?
You know what man, I feel like that’s the perfect outro because with that record like the beginning of it I apologise in advance because I'm not perfect I make some mistakes, but damn it I'm trying man. Trying to survive you know it’s a constant journey. That’s what I enjoy the most about the journey is learning, the experiences. Life is just one big ass journey man; I always like to be overcritical or I overthink certain situations but sometimes it's just not worth it. You can’t put a price on piece of mind.
I was watching the first part of your documentary and while you were in Africa you said that you have to live life in order to make. What experiences in Africa did you have that have impacted the album?
Just being around people honestly, just being back home more than anything. It means everything to me. Being around love, being surrounded by loved ones. Africa is home, Ghana specifically where I was at the time and just to get some air, man. It was good to get separated from this American lifestyle and life as an artist or quote-un-quote famous person. You know, I'm a human being before everything and I really needed that time to decompress and freshen up.
A lot of the great artists of our time went to Africa, Nina Simone I believe went out there, Dave Chapelle, which definitely inspired the trip as well.
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I think ‘Chronicles’ is a real standout off the album and shows how versatile you’ve become, is stepping out of your comfort zone and making a song like that something you enjoy?
Yeah man, I can’t put myself in no box. As an artist I'd be doing myself and the world a disservice if I just stayed within this box. I just always try and take it to a whole other level and a higher level.
One thing I've always respected is your ability to be completely at home on a track with the newer generation like Gunna and Durk and being able to kill it with some of the legends like Eminem and Lil Wayne, is that something you take pride in?
Yeah, for sure I would say that. You know, just being able to bring all superheroes together... we’re all superheroes within our own right: somebody looks at Lil Durk like he’s a superhero and he is; Wayne is a superhero, H.E.R is a superhero... even more than that these are just my homies, man. Even making this album it just felt like back in the basement vibes just creating an album with the homies - the homies just happen to be superstars!
A lot of albums right now are coming out with 20/25 song tracklists but you’ve kept yours pretty concise, was that a conscious decision to keep it short and impactful?
I got a solid 12, quality over quantity is always my thing. But trust me if I'm able to make 20 fire ass songs and they fit together conceptually, production wise on one body of work then I'm gonna do it, but man I find it a little easier doing less tracks, I know my percentage rate of success is gonna be much higher.
I know you’ve been to London and toured the UK before, talk to me about your time here and are there any UK artists you really enjoy or want to collab with in the future?
Yeah man I love London. I did some of this album while I was in London and I had a great time, honestly. Incredible time, it was dope.
There’s a lot of dope artists I got a lot of love for; I got an infinite amount of love for Dave, Dave’s a really good guy. I remember my very first show in London, Dave promoted my show, he posted that I had a show and was telling people to pull up. He didn’t have to do that man that was love. That was a lot of love and I appreciate all the genuine love and support that I get.
Stormzy actually pulled up to my first show, big ups to a real legend, it was a vibe. He’s a great guy, he showed a lot of love.
What’s the plan for the rest of the year? Will you have some time to soak it all in or is it straight back to work?
This is where the work begins honestly, I'm still recording new music, still working and obviously doing interviews and things of that nature but what I'm mostly preparing for is tour. I’ve missed it man, I might cry when I hit that stage as a headline act. I’m gonna be very happy.
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'From A Birds Eye View' is out now.
Words: Chris Saunders
Photo Credit: Raven Varona