The YBN Crew made their mark on 2018. Members of the ascendant young rap collective steadily unveiled music throughout the year, culminating in the September release of YBN: The Mixtape. Though imperfect, it was the kind of promising collection that lets you see young talents developing in real-time. YBN Cordae, in particular, has been garnering more and more attention, quickly becoming one of the names to look out for in the near future.
Cordae offered a bunch of memorable moments over the course of the year. There was “Old N*ggas,” his response to J. Cole’s whiney old man screed “1985.” Following that, there were singles like “Kung Fu” and “Scotty Pippen,” tracks that further fleshed out how gifted and dexterous YBN Cordae is as a rapper. (The latter landed amongst our favorite songs of that week.) Each one seemed to make YBN Cordae that much more intriguing, and plenty of people took notice — he’s supposed to release a solo debut next year, and he’s worked with none other than Dr. Dre for that project.
So just before 2018 comes to a close, YBN Cordae is back with one more track. “What’s Life” is a little different than trap-oriented songs like “Kung Fu” or “Scotty Pippen.” Instead, it’s a soulful, piano-driven meditation. “What is life without love/ What’s life without dreams/ What’s life without goals/ Everything ain’t what it seems,” he raps in the beginning, echoing Common more than Migos this time around. It’s a brief reflection, a snapshot of a rising star looking back on a big year, and forward to what could be an even bigger one. Check it out below.