It has been a busy month for Cordae. He released his second album, From a bird’s eye view, on January 14, an ambitious 14-track project with several high profile features, such as Freddie Gibbs and Lil Wayne. It’s a solid record that is quite reminiscent of his first album, with an emphasis on production that still allows him to display his flow. But Cordae’s most impressive musical effort of the month came two days before, when he appeared on Power 106 FM in Los Angeles for free style.
It’s not that From a bird’s eye view Where The lost Boy are bad – they are well thought out albums and they do enough to stand out from the mainstream hip-hop crowd – but Cordae is old school. His true talent is not found in a polished and professionally produced album. His real talent lies in the precise, grainy flow of words from bar to bar that is best represented by a freestyle.
Cordae returned to Power 106 a champion, having absolutely crushed his first freestyle on the show in the summer of 2018. His first time, he expertly dissected several diverse beats, from Kendrick Lamar’s jazzy “DUCKWORTH” to Lil Pump’s goofy “ESSKEETIT.” Switching the streams effortlessly and spitting out lines that are both humorous (“My money is stronger than Larry Lobster”) and jaw-dropping (“I need the new Bugatti / for the few who got me / killing beats is a ruthless pastime”), Cordae had DJ’s Justin Credible and SourMilk amazed.
So when Cordae entered Power 106 on January 12, greatness was set to grace the airwaves of greater Los Angeles. In the video, you can almost see him channeling his energy as the opening sketch of Biggie’s “Kick in the Door” gives way to the thumping, sinister beat. It’s clear that when Cordae rhymes like crazy, he’s more lively and energetic than when he’s in the studio. He ends an extremely impressive eight minutes by adding his own chorus on Kodak Black’s “Super Gremlin”.
Because freestyle is essentially rapping in its purest form, that’s nothing new. However, in the modern, heavily publicized musical reality, it has become more prevalent. Everyone walks around with a camera and endless beats in their pocket. Platforms like YouTube help freestyles like Cordae’s, which would once have been heard on the radio, to archive and broadcast. There are shows dedicated entirely to freestyles, like “The Cave” by producer Kenny Beats, which regularly racks up millions of views. Lin-Manuel Miranda even freestyled for Obama at the White House in 2016.
Freestyle is one of MC’s truest tests. Anyone’s voice can sound great in a studio, where modern digital production can transform a voice into something it never could be. Anyone’s flow can be smooth when they have hours to dedicate to an instrumental track and rewrite and repeat line after line. The very nature of a freestyle strips an MC of everything but their natural talent. A quick review reveals Cordae to be limitless, despite a disappointing studio career.
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