ALBUM RATING: 52
Cordae’s undeniable talent quickly became apparent to the hip-hop community, with his enlightened response to J. Cole’s ‘1985’ uncovering a passionate, driven artist with wisdom beyond his years. His reputable debut album which landed just a year later saw him prove his worth, fusing elements of 90s hip-hop with jazz, soul, and r&b, appealing to new-wave fans and hip-hop traditionalists alike.
However, for all the anticipation I had going into this sophomore release, ‘From a Bird’s Eye View’ feels like two steps backwards for Cordae, which is bitterly disappointing given his undeniable talents. While not necesarily a ‘bad’ album, my disappointment lies with Cordae’s lack of musical identity, which is a result of him stapling his inspirations to every corner of this album, preventing any personality from shining through. Every aspect of his delivery, from his vocal tonalities right down to his rhyme schemes, are far too reminiscent of J. Cole to be considered authentic, and while such resemblance may be completely unintentional, Cordae runs the risk of becoming another Logic, if continuing in this vein.
This musical identity crisis extends into the album’s themes, which quickly become disjointed as he attempts to accomodate for a wider audience. Opening with what is his most notable performance on ‘Jean-Michel’, Cordae’s proficient lyricism sees him offload his thoughts across a disorganised, yet powerful “venomous haiku”, in which he outspokenly claims “your favourite artist first priority is gaining wealth”. However, before you’ve had the opportunity to appreciate the honesty of this lyric, he’s already began boasting about his own wealth on the trap-inspired ‘Super’ – an entire track dedicated to the millions he made from appearing in a SuperBowl ad. Whether tongue-in-cheek or not, conflicts like this make for a confused album, in which the general concept becomes lost very early on.
Highlights such as ‘Momma’s Hood’ and ‘Westlake High’ remind me of Cordae’s credible songwriting, however his tendencies to stray away from his strengths make for moments of awkwardness, such as the off-beat flow on ‘Today’, where his flawed delivery feels unnatural alongside Gunna. Similar issues arise on the neo-soul ‘Want From Me’ and ‘C Carter’, where his respectable vocal deliveries are outshone by the realisation that Anderson Paak. is doing a similar thing, just five times better.
With that being said, Cordae is still a young artist finding his feet in the music industry, and therefore I still have high hopes for his future. But that can’t excuse the lack of identity associated with this album, which along with his poor stylistic choices, means ‘From a Bird’s Eye View’ is far too unfocussed, and uninspired to be considered anything other than a disappointment.
Favourite Tracks: Jean-Michel, Westlake High
Worst Tracks: Super, Today (feat. Gunna)