Monday, August 12th, 2019

YBN Cordae ft. Anderson .Paak – RNP

2019 XXL Freshman meets 2016 XXL Freshman…


Alfred Soto: The up-and-comer and the star have chemistry, enjoy filling each other’s blanks, and that’s the trouble: all the obvious care (J. Cole behind the boards!) to produce blank. 

Ryo Miyauchi: The sunny boom-bap laces “RNP” with a communal vibe like an invite to a summer block party, but I can’t tell if I’m supposed to be celebrating with Cordae and .Paak or if they’re excluding me from their celebration of luxury living.

Kylo Nocom: YBN Cordae gently straddles the line between refreshing sincerity and groan-inducing self-importance on The Lost Boy, and “RNP” confuses me because I’m frankly not sure which camp this would fall under. The verses following the second chorus are the most noteworthy, a conversational exchange between both artists humorously exchanging boasts. Even then, though, there’s still a feeling of rigidity, as if every single bit had to be constructed exactly right rather than any simple natural spark between .Paak and Cordae. Any believable chemistry between YBN Cordae and .Paak evaporates with that eye-raising foot rub chorus. “Let the hook sing” shows that .Paak is probably very proud of it. He should not be.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: .Paak says “just let the hook sing” but the question that brings is which one? The chorus itself isn’t anything special: despite his talent as both a rapper and an R&B singer, Anderson .Paak isn’t that great in the Nate Dogg role — his ambitions reach too far beyond just hooks. Instead, his chemistry with Cordae is the main attraction here. They aren’t an obvious fit on paper, with the pair even admitting that there’s 13 years separating them. Yet in practice, their traded lines and verses mesh together well, with .Paak smoothing out Cordae’s roughness and Cordae inspiring .Paak to get out of autopilot.

Nortey Dowuona: A screeching wail pulls in a flat, plump bass line as washed out synths prod the stillborn drums. Anderson coos, whines and hisses across the bass as YBN Cordae politely prods him back into the narrow lane left across to the end.

Oliver Maier: “RNP” is transparently designed to delight hip-hop fans who lament the genre’s supposed decline in Real Rappers who rap over Real Beats, but it’s a throwback with nothing to say. There’s shades of early Mos Def in YBN Cordae’s commanding yet blasé vocal tone and hints at A Tribe Called Quest in the traded bars between him and Anderson .Paak, but these reference points mean nothing when the lyrics here contain none of the wit or insight to match and the chemistry is so forced. What we do get are ballistic groaners like “Swear to God, me too, no Harvey Weinstein” and nonsensical brags like “Drippin’ in my feng shui, sippin’ on a sundae,” delivered in tedious, pre-school flows. But it’s not just that “RNP” is corny and shallow, which wouldn’t be enough to disqualify it from at least being fun. It’s that it tries so desperately to engineer joy that it ends up feeling totally joyless. J. Cole’s beat is characteristically dull, .Paak still fumbles as a rapper, and Cordae can do better so early in his career than to pander like this.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Step into any American high school today and you’ll find that kids who are really into rap music aren’t rapping like kids did ten years ago. Two years ago, I listened to students accomplish an open ended project by making rap songs, and what they created sounded more like Playboi Carti than some generic old school boom bap stuff like what we hear here. Cordae and .Paak have chemistry, sure, but the lyrics are only impressive if you’re sitting in a cafeteria eating some chicken nuggets.

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2 Responses to “YBN Cordae ft. Anderson .Paak – RNP”

  1. fwiw the song featuring chance the rapper is very good imo and a good bit of the album is still worth checking out (mostly the first half)

  2. This album is great, this track is merely pretty good. The Chance and Meek songs are amazing and tbh the whole thing strikes me as…kind of a really good Chance the Rapper record? (Not exactly, but not not that.)

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