YBN’s Cordae & Almighty Jay Interview: Talk Crafting’YBN: The Mixtape,’ & Mac Miller’s Passing
YBN is now hip-hop’s latest fast-rising neophyte collective that is seeking to follow in the footsteps of several legendary rap crews who have shifted the genre landscape before them. “Young Boss N–” is fronted by the contrasting personalities of Nahmir, Almighty Jay and the recent inclusion of famous Maryland-bred rapper Cordae, who joined the group last year.
Another measure in cementing their ascension came with the release of YBN: The Mixtape earlier this month (Sept. 7), a melting pot job that sees all those YBN stars stepping around to showcase their unique ability through a variety of previously published bangers weaved between new tunes to constitute the 23-track effort.
“I fuck with the fact that everyone in A$AP Mob does something different. That is kind of us. In YBN, most of us have our own lanes,” the 21-year-old Cordae informs Billboard. “We’re not always a group. We’re more of a collective — it is like a movement. It’s like a brotherhood outside music and everything has been natural.”
Pay attention to the rest of our talk with YBN’s Almighty Jay and Cordae as the talented duo dishes onto a great number of subjects, including crafting their introduction mixtape, MGK’s feud with Eminem, the loss of Mac Miller, what is in store for its future, plus even more.
YBN Nahmir was not present for this interview because of illness.
Billboard: What is the creative process like when placing the mixtape together?
Almighty JayWe did not plan it out like,”Oh, we’re going to use this to the tape.” YBN Cordae Type Beat 2018 just went into the studio and created music. The majority of them we figured to just put them on there since we have not dropped a lot of music lately. Fundamentally, we simply made a lot of music that way and kept piling it up. We listened to all of the songs and then determined what we actually wanted to be around the market.
YBN Cordae: The mixtape was pretty much finished before I came around. I only added in some tunes I felt filled in the missing pieces of this project. “Goal” was one of these songs with a different sound. I wanted to complement them as well. The intro has Jay and Nahmir storytelling so I came in with the storytelling as well. I didn’t wish to go overboard.
Cordae, you detailed a chilling experience with police on”Target.” Why did you need to talk about this?
YBN Cordae: Because it is based on a true story. I was in college and driving but I did not understand my license has been suspended. It was homecoming weekend so I had five of my homies in the auto. I just wanted to put that into song kind and believed that was the best way to express how I felt. It made me understand so many encounters are like this.
I ended up not getting booked. He realized we were going to school and a bunch of 18-year-olds. I needed to go to court to get it and it was a huge annoyance because I had three different court dates. It was dreadful.
Did you guys have a tough time working with each other and deciding what ultimately made the tape?
Almighty Jay: Yeah, I guess they say I am difficult to manage. They’re constantly trying to tell me what I want to be shifting with my songs and I just tell them,”Nah.” I will change it sometimes but it comes from fire. I really don’t write nothing. What’s a freestyle. I don’t like composing songs.
YBN Cordae: That’s his way of life, simply wing it. Nearly all my shit is written. I will freestyle the flows or first four bars to get a hook and then I sort of get my inspiration from that. I freestyled the hook to”Target.” I got to cadence and then it sparked the thought. I will freestyle the flows because that comes naturally but that I just plug in the phrases and write.
Walk me through how”Alaska” came together, Cordae.
YBN Cordae: That was initially a throwaway track. It fit really nicely on the mixtape. I shot the movie with Cole Bennett. He hit me up the day of and was like,”I got a free afternoon, do you want to take a movie?” I rocked with him to knock it out with that double-time flow. Mike Dean produced it. Him along with a 14-year-old named Maddox, who’s his protege. I moved to his house in Los Angeles and he cooked it up. I freestyled the whole song outside the second verse.
What did you both think of Machine Gun Kelly’s”Rap Devil” diss monitor firing back at Eminem?
YBN Cordae: When he fell I was like,”You’re fucking insane bro.” But if you really feel like that’s what you have to do, then do it. Always go with your intuition. The diss is hard. I believe it was flame. This really is a great thing for Machine Gun Kelly. I would be happy as shit when Eminem dissed me. He made a lot of great points on there. This is what Eminem does with beef. I would like to hear what he’s got to say. I really don’t believe he was expecting an answer. You gotta be crazy to want beef with Eminem and MGK is that.
Almighty Jay: I listened to”Rap Devil” and liked it. I haven’t listened to his songs really but that he knows how to knock his ass off.
Did any collectives already in hip-hop inspire you guys to come along?
YBN Cordae: Pro Era and Oddfuture were enormous. A$AP Mob a little also. I fuck with the fact that everyone in A$AP Mob does something different. That is kind of us. In YBN, most of us have our own lanes. A$AP Rocky is a fashion icon, [A$AP Ferg] kills the rapping, Yams was the mastermind behind the entire thing. With Oddfuture, just to find out exactly what [Tyler, the Creator] is doing, [Frank Ocean] is doing, that which Earl was doing. That is what we’re trying to make.
You took shots at sneakers designed by Ian Connor during a recent episode of Sneaker Shopping, even speaking to them as a”small rapey.” Can you feel that is the right setting for all those remarks?
YBN Cordae: In the end of the afternoon, I said what I said. Looking back today, I would not have stated on camera. The last thing I want to perform with my stage is bash yet another young black guy who’s getting money. I have no any problems with Lil Yachty or Ian Connor.
What did you consider the answer to your”Old N–s” track? Did you end up speaking with J. Cole?
YBN Cordae: He rocked with it and said,”It had been firing.” J. Cole is a bridge-gapper. The”Fuck J. Cole” movement was lame. He adopted it.
How was locking in the studio with Dr. Dre?
YBN Cordae: It was fire. It had been at his home for 20 hours straight. I enjoy working with him because it’s like moving through basketball drills. I felt myself becoming better by the hour. [Dr. Dre’s] working with me on this solo project. That is a mentor of mine. He had his Grammy plaques and I have never seen one in person before which was motivational.
What’s up with the younger generation abusing their plaques? I found Lil Xan piss on his.
YBN Cordae: I sort of get where Xan was moving with that — fuck these materialistic things in life. It does not mean anything or piss to himliterally.
Do you have a difficult time moving past the relationship drama with Blac Chyna and turning people’s attention toward your own music?
Almighty Jay: I only keep dropping my songs. I was never really worried about it. I am an artist at the end of the afternoon, not a soap opera[celebrity ]. I am just gonna keep placing the [music] in their face.
Were you Mac Miller lovers growing up?
YBN Cordae: Yeah, I was a Enormous fan of Mac Miller. You know the best way to listen to songs and you also about where you were when you heard it? I just had that a month ago with Mac once I was listening to Blue Slide Park, K.I.D.S, and Macadelic. I was a big Mac Miller enthusiast. He was straight ill. Even going back into his old mixtapes like The High Life. He has been in the game as a youngin, that’s how big his stamp is. He grew as an artist and truly evolved each record on several funkadelic shit.
What are some of your favourite albums that inspired you out of this season?
YBN Cordae: Not even because they’re dead, [XXXTentacion’s?] Album was mad. That was pure artistry. Mac Miller’s Swimming too. Cole Bennett pushed me to hear it a couple weeks ago. This was fucking insane. J. Cole’s KOD as well. I enjoy Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E. album the best from all the G.O.O.D. Songs releases.
Almighty Jay: Culture II for me. I like lifestyle music, I don’t get into all that lyrical shit. That is just the way I am. I really don’t go back to follow the old shit but I love to listen to what is presently going on.
Whose side are you taking for this particular Nicki Minaj versus Cardi B feud?
YBN Cordae: It’s on sight for them. They’re more gangster than a few of these rappers. Don’t sleep on Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy. “Barbie Dreams” was fire as well. That was some true hip-hop shit. I like concept songs like this.
What is next for the two of you musically?
Almighty Jay: I’m working on my album right now.
YBN Cordae: I am working on a solo project that is coming real soon as well. We’re not necessarily a group. We’re more of a collective — it is like a motion. It is like a brotherhood outside music and everything has been organic.
Is there anything planned for the rest of 2018?
YBN Cordae: I’m probably going to shed a couple of videos. Likely a project towards the end of the year or beginning of next year. I have so much music. I am just trying to make a classic job.
Almighty Jay: We are going on tour beginning in Europe soon.
YBN Cordae: I only need that”Young Boss N–in Paris” caption on the market. Before we do, I want to sightsee in each city we go to. That is informative. I’m gonna write about some cool shit now.
Almighty Jay: I am trying for the Wu-Tang Clan to come outside for us. Trying to get my guy Method Man to open me up.
YBN Cordae: I really don’t co-sign any of this.