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 simple fact that everyone in A$AP Mob does something different. That’s sort of us. In YBN, most of us have our own lanes,” the 21-year-old Cordae informs Billboard. “We are not always a group. We’re more of a collective — it’s like a movement. It is like a brotherhood out of 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 debut mixtape, MGK’s feud with Eminem, the reduction 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 putting the mixtape together?
Almighty JayWe didn’t plan it out like,”Oh, we’re going to use this for the tape” We just went into the studio and made audio. Most of them we figured to just set them on there because we haven’t dropped a lot of music lately. Basically, we simply made a lot of music that way and kept piling it up. We listened to all the music and then decided what we actually wanted to be on the market.
YBN Cordae Type Beat 2019: The mixtape was pretty much ended before I came around. I just added in certain tunes I felt filled in the missing pieces of this undertaking. “Goal” was one of those songs with a different sound. I wished to complement them well. The intro has Jay and Nahmir storytelling, and so I came in with the storytelling as well. I didn’t want to go overboard.
Cordae, you comprehensive a chilling experience with police on”Target.” Why did you need to speak about this?
YBN Cordae: Because it’s based on a true story. I was in school and driving but that I didn’t understand my license was suspended. This was homecoming weekend so I had five of my homies in the car. I only 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 experiences are like this.
I ended up not getting reserved. He realized we were going to college and a lot of 18-year-olds. I needed to go to court to get it and it was a huge annoyance because I had three distinct court dates. It was dreadful.
Did you guys have a hard time working with each other and deciding what ultimately made the cassette?
Almighty Jay: Yeah, I figure they say I’m 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’ll change it occasionally 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 lifestyle, simply wing it. The majority of my shit is written. I’ll freestyle the escapes or first four bars to get a hook and then I kind of get my inspiration from this. I freestyled the hook to”Goal” I got into cadence and after that it sparked the thought. I will freestyle the flows because that comes naturally but that I simply plug in the phrases and write.
Walk me through the way”Alaska” came together, Cordae.
YBN Cordae: That was originally a throwaway track. It fit quite nicely on the mixtape. I shot the movie with Cole Bennett. He struck me up the day of and was like,”I got a free day, do you wish to take a movie?” I rocked with him to knock it out with this double-time flow. Mike Dean produced it. Him and a 14-year-old called Maddox, who’s his protege. I moved to his house in Los Angeles and he cooked it up. I freestyled the whole song out the second verse.
What would you both think of Machine Gun Kelly’s”Rap Devil” diss track firing back at Eminem?
YBN Cordae: If he fell I was like,”You’re fucking insane bro.” But if you really feel like that is what you have to do, then do it. Always go with your instinct. The diss is hard. I think that it was flame. This really is a great thing for Machine Gun Kelly. I would be very happy as shit when Eminem dissed me. He made a lot of good points on there. That is what Eminem does with beef. I want to hear what he has to say. I really don’t believe he was expecting an answer. You have ta be crazy to want beef with Eminem and MGK is that.
Almighty Jay: I listened to”Rap Devil” and enjoyed it. I haven’t listened to his music actually 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: Professional Era and Oddfuture were enormous. A$AP Mob a little too. I fuck with the simple fact that everyone in A$AP Mob does something different. That’s sort of us. In YBN, most of us have our own lanes. A$AP Rocky is a style icon, [A$AP Ferg] kills the rapping, Yams was the mastermind behind the whole thing. With Oddfuture, simply to find out exactly what [Tyler, the Creator] is doing, [Frank Ocean] is doing, that which Earl was performing. That is what we’re trying to create.
You took shots at sneakers designed by Ian Connor during a current installment of Sneaker Shopping, even referring 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 day, I stated 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 another young black guy who is getting money. I don’t have any difficulties with Lil Yachty or 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 rocked with it said,”It was fire.” J. Cole is a bridge-gapper. The”Fuck J. Cole” motion was lame. He embraced it.
How was locking at the studio with Dr. Dre?
YBN Cordae: It was fire. It was in his home for 20 hours straight. I enjoy working with him because it’s like moving through basketball exercises. I felt myself becoming better by the hour. [Dr. Dre’s] working with me with this solo project. That’s a mentor . He had his Grammy plaques and I have never seen one in person before which was motivational.
What is up with the younger generation abusing their plaques? I saw Lil Xan piss on his own.
YBN Cordae: I sort of get where Xan was moving with that — fuck these materialistic things in life. It does not mean shatter or anything to himliterally.
Do you have a tough time moving past the relationship play with Blac Chyna and turning people’s focus toward your 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 putting the
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 reminisce about where you were when you heard it? I simply 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 big Mac Miller enthusiast. He was straight ill. Even going back into his old mixtapes such as The High Life. He has been in the game since a youngin, that’s how big his postage is. He grew as an artist and actually evolved every record on some funkadelic shit.
What are some of your favourite albums that motivated you out of this season?
YBN Cordae: Not because they’re dead, [XXXTentacion’s?] Album was crazy. This was pure artistry. Mac Miller’s Swimming too. Cole Bennett pressed me to listen to it a couple weeks ago. This was fucking insane. J. Cole’s KOD as well. I enjoy Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E. record the best from all the G.O.O.D. Music releases.
Almighty Jay: Culture II for me. I like lifestyle songs, I do not get into all that lyrical shit. That’s 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 for this Nicki Minaj versus Cardi B feud?
YBN Cordae: It is on sight for them. They’re more gangster than a few of these rappers. Do not sleep on Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy. “Barbie Dreams” was fire too. That was some real hip-hop shit. I enjoy concept songs like this.
What is next for the two of you musically?
Almighty Jay: I’m working on my album at this time.
YBN Cordae: I am working on a solo project that’s coming real soon as well. We’re not always a group. We are more of a collective — it’s 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’m probably going to drop a few of videos. Likely a project towards the end of the year or start of next year. I have so much music. I’m just trying to generate a timeless project.
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 every city we visit. That is informative. I am gonna write about some cool shit now.
Almighty Jay: I’m attempting for the Wu-Tang Clan to come outside for us. Trying to get my guy Method Man to start me up.
YBN Cordae: I don’t co-sign any of this.