Believe the Hype
Interview: Kai Acevedo
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

After a huge, breakout year, YBN Cordae is ready to take things up a notch. Although the stakes are high for YBN Cordae, he’s up for every challenge. Following his own path, the DMV rapper released his critically acclaimed debut album, The Lost Boy, and earned a couple of Grammy nominations. Since then, he’s headlined his own tour, appeared in a Super Bowl commercial alongside Jonah Hill and Martin Scorsese, and picked up a major cosign from Eminem. Prepared to take things to the next level, YBN Cordae checks in with XXL to discuss why his Grammy recognition for Best Rap Album matters, being “dope” and his plans for the rest of the year.

XXL: What was your favorite part of your The Lost Boy in America Tour?

YBN Cordae: Seeing the fans enjoy the live experience and know all of the lyrics word for word, traveling with my homies that I grew up with and just enjoying life experiences with genuine people that I’ve known for years.

You received Grammy nominations in the Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song categories for your debut album, The Lost Boy. Both are dope, but which nomination has meant more for you?

Best Rap Album, for sure, because that’s the nomination for a full body of work, not just one song. That’s for a complete body of work that I put everything into.

What’s one life lesson you’ve learned since you dropped your debut?

Just trust your intuition and beware of outsiders. Like I said, when I’m on tour I just got everybody who I got it out the mud with. Also, be yourself unapologetically. Don’t let anybody change a damn thing about that.

Eminem recently said you’re “dope.” What does that acknowledgement from him mean to you?

It’s tight as hell. That’s all that I can really say. That shit is cool as fuck. That’s Eminem, so of course that felt great.

You were featured in Coca-Cola’s recent Super Bowl ad alongside Jonah Hill and Martin Scorsese. What was that experience like for you?

It was tight as hell. I got to really go over the edits and the whole creative behind the commercial. I was very hands on with the creative. It was super tight. Everything I involve myself with is an extension of me, so I take everything super seriously, from the music to the shows. That’s the only way to do it.

When it’s all said and done, what do you want your greatest contribution to hip-hop to be?

Continuing to push the culture forward. Representing this thing at the highest level. Making the forefathers and the people that paved the way proud and having them believe that I’ve reached those heights and beyond. I want to inspire the next biggest artist. I want the biggest artist of 2030, 2027 or even 2025 to say, “I was inspired by Cordae. Cordae is the reason I make music.”

What else should we expect from you in 2020?

More music. I definitely got some shit on the way. Possibly another body of work. Everything is just evolving and the music is getting better. Everything is going to be at a higher level. People are going to be like, “Wow, he took his shit to a whole other level in every aspect.”

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2020 issue including our Future cover story, in which he speaks on his Life Is Good albumLil Yachty discusses his new album, Lil Boat 3, and the respect he deserves, Van Jones talks about his love for hip-hop, Show & Proves with Jack Harlow and Key Glock, plus there's a brewing, new hip-hop scene in New Yorkand more.

See Exclusive Photos of Future on a Yacht for XXL Magazine's Spring 2020 Cover Story

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