YBN Cordae kills O2 Academy Islington, and he promises he’s just getting started
Words by Husam Elgenied
Photos by Bobby Emmanuel
Watching one of Hip-Hops young and emerging talents grace the stage at London’s O2 Academy Islington was exciting. In the past, Cordae has shown a level of range and intelligence when coming to his music which made me curious as to how that would translate in a live performance.
Cordae came out to a packed crowd with his hoodie up, facing away from the crowd and waving his arm as the crowd followed suit. He announces that “everyone in the room is family.”
He turns around and the crowd goes wild. All races, cultures and age groups were in attendance, ready for the first song. The intro for his first single of his upcoming album “Have Mercy” drops; he rages with energy and enthusiasm, rapping every line, while engaging with the audience. When the song ends he says, “Nah I don’t normally do this but can I play that again?” This time he brings a young kid from the crowd, 15-year-old Matthew, up on the stage and tells him he can watch the song from the DJ decks – a moment he will be telling his friends for a long time.
One of the things that impressed me was the choice of what song came next. Not only did he elevate the crowd, however, he simultaneously let everyone know that he is a serious lyricist. Cutting the beat on tracks that arguably started his rise like “My Name Is..” and “Old N**gas” where he could demonstrate the maturity in his flow.
One of the funniest moments of the evening was when Cordae was shouting out several artists and calling for their freedom. Such as, Kodak Black, Bobby Shmurda and ASAP Rocky, where then he said “Free 6…Nar keep that n**ga locked up”, which had the crowd going crazy.
Cordae ended the show with some unreleased music from his new album and the reception was incredible, he seemed touched by the reaction and said, “Every person here is part of history, because you were at my first show in London, and when I come back in 5 years I’m gona’ sell out the O2. It’s going to be wild!” This reminded me of when I saw J Cole at Hammersmith where he also told the crowd that he would be back to sell out the O2, which he did a year later. I don’t see any reason why Cordae can’t achieve the same feet.
What impressed me the most was his stage presence, while playing songs such as “Kung Fu” and “Bad Idea ft. Chance the Rapper”, it felt as though he was in the audience, which at one point he actually was!
One of the brightest talents in the game, watch this space.