YBN’s Cordae & Almighty Jay Interview: Talk Crafting’YBN: The Mixtape,’ & Mac Miller’s Passing
YBN is hip-hop’s newest fast-rising neophyte collective that’s looking to follow in the footsteps of several legendary rap teams who’ve altered the genre landscape . “Young Boss N–s” is obscured from the contrasting personalities of Nahmir, Almighty Jay and the current addition of famous Maryland-bred rapper Cordae, who joined the group last year.
Another step in cementing their ascension came with the release of YBN: The Mixtape earlier this month (Sept. 7), a melting pot project that sees each of those YBN celebrities stepping up to showcase their unique ability through a variety of previously released bangers weaved between new tunes to make up the 23-track effort.
“I fuck with the fact that everyone in A$AP Mob does something different. That’s sort of like us. In YBN, we all have our own lanes,” that the 21-year-old Cordae tells Billboard. “We are not always a group. We are more of a collective — it’s just like a movement. It’s like a brotherhood out of music and everything has been natural.”
Pay attention to the rest of our conversation with YBN’s Almighty Jay and Cordae as the talented duo dishes on a multitude of subjects, such as crafting their debut mixtape, MGK’s feud with Eminem, the loss of Mac Miller, what is in store for the future, plus much more.
YBN Nahmir was not present for this interview because of illness.
Billboard: What was the creative process such as when putting the mixtape together?
Almighty Jay: We did not plan it out like,”Oh, we are going to use this to the tape.” We just went into the studio and made music. The majority of them we figured to just set them on there because we haven’t dropped a lot of music lately. Fundamentally, we simply made a great deal of music like that and kept piling it up. We listened to all the music and then decided what we actually wanted to be on there.
YBN Cordae: The mixtape was pretty much finished before I came around. I just added in certain songs that I felt filled in the missing portions of the undertaking. “Goal” was among those tunes with a different sound. I wanted to complement them well. The intro has Jay and Nahmir storytelling so I came in with the storytelling as well. I didn’t want to go overboard.
Cordae, you comprehensive a scary encounter with police on”Goal” Why did you want to speak about this?
YBN Cordae: Since it’s based on a real story. I was in college and driving but that I didn’t understand my license has been suspended. It was homecoming weekend so I had five of my homies in the car. I only wanted to put that into song form and felt that was the best way to express the way I felt. It made me realize so many experiences are like this.
I ended up not getting booked. YBN Cordae Type Beat realized we were going to college and a lot of 18-year-olds. I had to go to court for it and it was a massive inconvenience because I had three distinct court dates. It was dreadful.
Can you guys have a hard time working with one another and deciding what ultimately made the tape?
Almighty Jay: Yeah, I figure they say I’m difficult to manage. They’re always trying to tell me what I need to be changing with my songs and I just tell them”Nah.” I’ll change it sometimes but it comes out fire. I really don’t write nothing. Everything is a freestyle. I don’t like composing music.
YBN Cordae: That is his lifestyle, just wing it. Nearly all my shit is composed. I will freestyle the flows or first four bars to get a hook and then I kind of get my inspiration from that. I freestyled the hook to”Target.” I got into cadence and after that it sparked the idea. I’ll freestyle the flows since that comes naturally but I simply plug in the phrases and write.
Walk me through how”Alaska” came together, Cordae.
YBN Cordae: That was originally a throwaway track. It fit quite well on the mixtape. I shot the video with Cole Bennett. He hit me up the day of and was like,”I got a free day, do you wish to shoot a video?” I rocked with him to knock it out with that double-time flow. Mike Dean produced it. Him and a 14-year-old called Maddox, who is his protege. I went to his house in Los Angeles and he cooked this up. I freestyled the entire song out the next verse.
What did you both think of Machine Gun Kelly’s”Rap Devil” diss track firing back at Eminem?
YBN Cordae: If he dropped that I was like,”You’re fucking mad bro.” But if you feel like that is what you have to do, then take action. Always go with your intuition. The diss is hard. I think that it was fire. This is a great factor for Machine Gun Kelly. I’d be very happy as shit when Eminem dissed me. He made lots of good points on the market. This is what Eminem does with beef. I want to hear what he has to say. I don’t think 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 music actually but he knows how to rap his ass off.
Did any collectives already in hip-hop inspire you men to come together?
YBN Cordae: Professional Era and Oddfuture were enormous. A$AP Mob a small too. I fuck with the fact that everyone in A$AP Mob does something different. That’s sort of like us. In YBN, we all have our own lanes. A$AP Rocky is a fashion icon, [A$AP Ferg] kills the rapping, Yams was the mastermind behind the whole thing. With Oddfuture, simply to see what [Tyler, the Creator] is doing, [Frank Ocean] is performing, what Earl was performing. That is what we’re attempting to create.
You took shots sneakers designed by Ian Connor during a recent installment of Sneaker Shopping, even referring to them as a”small rapey.” Can you feel that’s the right setting for those comments?
YBN Cordae: In the close of the day, I said what I said. Looking back today, I wouldn’t have stated that on camera. The last thing I want to perform with my platform is celebration another young black man who’s getting cash. I have no any problems with Lil Yachty or Ian Connor.
What did you consider the response to your”Old N–s” track? Did you end up speaking with J. Cole?
YBN Cordae: He rocked with it said,”It was fire.” J. Cole is a bridge-gapper. The”Fuck J. Cole” movement was lame. He embraced it.
How was locking in the studio with Dr. Dre?
YBN Cordae: It was fire. It was in his house for 20 hours straight. I love working with him because it is like going through basketball exercises. I felt myself becoming better by the hour. [Dr. Dre’s] working with me on this solo project. That’s a mentor . He had all his Grammy plaques and I’ve never seen one in person before which was inspirational.
What’s up with the younger generation abusing their plaques? I saw Lil Xan piss on his own.
YBN Cordae: I kind of get where Xan was going with that — fuck these materialistic things in existence. It doesn’t mean shatter or anything to himliterally.
Have you got a tough time going past the relationship drama with Blac Chyna and turning people’s focus toward your music?
Almighty Jay: I only keep dropping my songs. I was never really worried about it. I’m an artist at the end of the day, not a soap opera[star]. I am just gonna maintain putting the [music] in their face.
– Aaron Fernandes (@AaronRFernandes) September 14, 2018
Were you Mac Miller fans growing up?
YBN Cordae: Yeah, I was a Enormous fan of Mac Miller. You know how you listen to music and you reminisce about where you were when you first heard it? I just had that a month ago with Mac when I was listening to Blue Slide Park, K.I.D.S, and Macadelic. I had been a huge Mac Miller fan. He was straight sick. Even going back to his old mixtapes such as The High Life. He has been in the sport since a youngin, that is how big his stamp is. He grew as an artist and actually evolved every record on several funkadelic shit.
What are some of your favorite albums that inspired you from this year?
YBN Cordae: Not even because they’re dead, [XXXTentacion’s?] Album was crazy. That was pure artistry. Mac Miller’s Swimming too. Cole Bennett pressed me to listen to it a few weeks ago. That was fucking insane. J. Cole’s KOD Too. I like Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E. record the best from the G.O.O.D. Music releases.
Almighty Jay: Associate II for me. I like lifestyle music, I do not get into all that lyrical shit. That’s just the way I am. I really don’t go back to listen to the old shit but I like to listen to what’s presently happening.
Whose side are you taking for this Nicki Minaj versus Cardi B feud?
YBN Cordae: It is on sight for them. They be more gangster than some of these rappers. Don’t sleep on Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy. “Barbie Dreams” was fire as well. That was some real hip-hop shit. I enjoy concept songs like that.
What’s next for the two of you musically?
Almighty Jay: I am working on my solo album at this time.
YBN Cordae: I am working in a solo project that’s coming real soon too. We’re not necessarily a group. We are more of a collective — it’s like a motion. It is like a brotherhood outside of music and everything has been organic.
Is there anything planned for the rest of 2018?
YBN Cordae: I’m probably going to drop a few videos. Probably a project near the end of this year or start of next year. I have so much songs. I’m only trying to make a timeless project.
Almighty Jay: We are going on tour beginning in Europe soon.
YBN Cordae: I just need that”Young Boss N–s in Paris” caption out there. Before we do, I’d like to sightsee in every city we go to. That is educational. I’m gonna write about some cool shit now.
Almighty Jay: I’m attempting to get the Wu-Tang Clan to come out for us. Trying to receive my man Method Man to start me up.
YBN Cordae: ” I don’t co-sign any of the.