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 simple fact that everybody in A$AP Mob does something different. That is kind of us. In YBN, we all have our very 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.”
Check out the rest of our talk with YBN’s Almighty Jay and Cordae as the gifted duo dishes onto a great number of topics, including crafting their introduction mixtape, MGK’s feud with Eminem, the loss of Mac Miller, what is in store for the future, and much more.
YBN Nahmir was not present for this interview due to illness.
Billboard: What was the creative process such as when placing the mixtape together?
Almighty Jay: We didn’t plan it out like,”Oh, we are going to use this to the tape.” We went into the studio and made audio. Most of them we figured to simply set them on there since we have not dropped a lot of music lately. Basically, we simply made a great deal of music like that and kept piling it up. We listened to all of the songs and then determined what we really wanted to be around there.
YBN Cordae: The mixtape was pretty much ended before I arrived around. I only added in some tunes that I felt full of 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, and so I came in with the storytelling too. I didn’t wish to go overboard.
Cordae, you detailed a chilling encounter with authorities 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 was suspended. This was homecoming weekend so that I had five of my homies in the auto. I just wanted to put that into song kind and felt that was the perfect way to express how I felt. It made me understand so many encounters are like this.
I ended up not getting reserved. He realized we’re going to school and a bunch of 18-year-olds. I needed to go to court for this 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, YBN Cordae Type Beat 2018 guess they say I am difficult to deal with. They’re constantly trying to tell me exactly what I want to be shifting with my music and I just tell them,”Nah.” I will change it sometimes but it comes out fire. I don’t write nothing. Everything is a freestyle. I don’t like writing music.
YBN Cordae: That is his way of life, just wing it. The majority of my shit is composed. I will freestyle the flows or first four pubs to get a hook and then I kind of get my inspiration from this. I freestyled the hook to”Goal” I received to cadence and then it sparked the thought. I’ll freestyle the leaks because that comes naturally but that I just plug in the phrases and write.
Walk me through the way”Alaska” came together, Cordae.
YBN Cordae: This was initially a throwaway track. It fit really nicely on the mixtape. I shot the video with Cole Bennett. He struck me up the day of and was like,”I have a free afternoon, do you want to take a video?” I rocked with him to knock it out with this double-time flow. Mike Dean made it. Him along with a 14-year-old named Maddox, who’s his protege. I went to his home in Los Angeles and he cooked it up. I freestyled the whole song outside the second verse.
What would you think of Machine Gun Kelly’s”Rap Devil” diss monitor firing back at Eminem?
YBN Cordae: When he fell that I was like,”You are fucking insane bro.” But if you really feel like that’s what you have to do, then do it. Always go with your instinct. The diss is tough. I believe it was flame. This Is a Superb thing for Machine Gun Kelly. I would be happy as shit when Eminem dissed me. He made a lot of great points on there. That is exactly what Eminem does with beef. I would like to hear what he’s got to say. I really don’t think he was expecting a response. You have ta be mad to want beef with Eminem and MGK is that.
Almighty Jay: I listened to”Rap Devil” and enjoyed it. I have not listened to his songs really but that he knows how to rap his ass off.
Did any collectives 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 simple fact that everybody in A$AP Mob does something different. That is kind of us. In YBN, we all have our very own lanes. A$AP Rocky is a style icon, [A$AP Ferg] kills the rapping, Yams has been the mastermind behind the entire thing. With Oddfuture, just to find out what [Tyler, the Creator] is performing, [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.” Did you feel that is the ideal setting for all those remarks?
YBN Cordae: At the end of the afternoon, I said what I said. Looking back today, I wouldn’t have said that on camera. The last thing I want to do with my platform is celebration yet another young black man who is getting cash. I have no any problems with Lil Yachty or even Ian Connor.
What did you consider the response to your”Old N–” track? Did you ever end up speaking with J. Cole?
YBN Cordae: He awakened with it said,”It had been firing.” J. Cole is a bridge-gapper. The”Fuck J. Cole” motion was helpless. He adopted it.
How was locking at the studio with Dr. Dre?
YBN Cordae: It had been fire. It had been at his home for 20 hours straight. I love working with him since it’s like moving through basketball drills. I felt myself becoming better by the hour. [Dr. Dre’s] working with me with this project. That is a mentor of mine. He had his Grammy plaques and I’ve never seen one in person before that was motivational.
What is up with all the younger generation abusing their plaques? I found Lil Xan piss on his.
YBN Cordae: I sort of get where Xan was going with this — 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 music. I was never really worried about it. I am an artist in the end of the afternoon, not a soap opera[celebrity ]. I’m just gonna keep placing the [music] in their face.
– Aaron Fernandes (@AaronRFernandes) September 14, 2018
Were either of you Mac Miller fans growing up?
YBN Cordae: Yeah, I was a huge fan of Mac Miller. You know how you listen to music and you also about where you were when you first heard it? I simply had that per month ago with Mac once I was listening to Blue Slide Park, K.I.D.S, and Macadelic. I was a big Mac Miller fan. He was directly 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 some funkadelic shit.
What are some of your favourite albums that motivated you out of this season?
YBN Cordae: Not because they are dead, [XXXTentacion’s?] Album was mad. This was pure artistry. Mac Miller’s softball also. Cole Bennett pushed me to hear it a couple weeks ago. That was fucking crazy. 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 don’t go back to follow the older shit but I love to listen to what is currently going on.
Whose side are you currently taking with this particular Nicki Minaj versus Cardi B feud?
YBN Cordae: It’s on sight for them. They’re more gangster than some of those rappers. Do not sleep Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy. “Barbie Dreams” was fire too. This was some true hip-hop shit. I like concept songs like this.
What’s next for the both 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’s like a brotherhood outside music and everything was organic.
Is there anything planned for the remainder of 2018?
YBN Cordae: I am probably going to shed a couple of videos. Probably a job 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 starting in Europe soon.
YBN Cordae: I only want that”Young Boss N–in Paris” caption on the market. Before we perform, I want to sightsee in each city we go to. That is educational. I am gonna compose about some cool shit now.
Almighty Jay: I am trying for the Wu-Tang Clan to come out for us. Attempting to get my guy Method Man to open me up.
YBN Cordae: I really don’t co-sign any of this.