YBN Cordae in the official video for ‘1985 (Intro to the ‘Fall Off’)’; Photo: YBN Cordae/YouTube

J. Cole‘s latest album KOD has been lauded by critics, but there are a slew of rappers who aren’t so enthused. Many felt slighted over Cole’s criticisms towards the younger generation, specifically on the song “1985 (Intro to the ‘Fall Off’).” Cole raps:

Now you scramblin’ and hopin’ to get hot again
But you forgot you only popped ’cause you was ridin’ trends
Now you old news and you goin’ through regrets
‘Cause you never bought that house, but you got a Benz

In truth Cole was offering constructive criticism while still staying true to his opinions and it’s not nearly as one-sided as many have made it seem.

While some rappers erected walls and fortified defenses in response, YBN Cordae offered a rebuttal that could help bridge the gap. Cordae’s latest song “Old Niggas” sounds like a diss, but it’s more about holding people accountable.

Cordae touches upon how the older generation were once young and that the generation before them criticized rap as something of a passing fad. Old jazz and funk purists, who many artists were sampling at the time, dismissed rap as stealing or an inferior product to what they were doing.

Instead of bowing down to Cole’s sentiments Cordae also mentions how the older generation aren’t exactly shining stars either. He raps:

Lately all my idols they been failin’ me
Catchin’ sexual assaults and some felonies
Then you want me to listen what you tellin’ me
And wanna hate when we sing our little melodies

Cordae goes on to explain how the generation gap didn’t suddenly appear but was something that has slowly developed over time. It extends beyond music and into real life situations, circumstances that the older generation needs to understand if there’s to be any kind of reconciliation. Cardae raps:

We see you old niggas as a lot of clowns
Not to mention our father figures was not around
So we all on tours and we hoppin’ towns
We just need to sit down and find common ground

At this point it seems like just one side poking fun at the other from separate corners of the same room. J. Cole inched closer to understanding (and so has DJ Premier), and Cordae responded in kind. “Old Niggas” is the most thoughtful rap penned by the younger generation when it comes to acknowledging the divide.

The hope is that both sides will continue to build and support each other’s endeavors or at the very least show some mutual respect and stop undercutting each other.