Howard University students were able to listen to two-time Grammy award-nominated rapper and Md Native Cordae’s unreleased album, ‘From a Birds Eye View.’
The intimate event, Kickin it With Cordae Campus Takeover, was hosted for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s (MEAC) eight HBCU institutions. The event took place at the United Negro College Fund Offices, and Cordae visited The Yard shortly after.
“I got the idea that I wanted to go to HBCU’s, last Monday. I wanted to play my album for a very small, very intimate group, no more than 50 people,” said rapper Cordae. So, he reached out to the MEAC to make it happen, and on Monday, he released the news of his campus takeovers in a post on Instagram.
The takeover kicked off at Norfolk State’s campus on Sept. 14 and will wrap up programming on Sept. 21 at South Carolina State. The collaboration with MEAC and Cordae was created to not only showcase his unreleased music but to also promote the Esports Programs available across the selected institutions in this Campus takeover initiative.
“When I was talking to them [Cordae’s team], I was like, ‘Hey, is Cordae a gamer?’ And they replied, ‘Yes, he plays NBA 2K.’ So I decided, let’s see if we can promote Esports during his campus takeover to help the word get out there to the students that each institution has an Esports program. And so that’s really how it came about,” the MEAC chief of staff and chief operating officer, Sonja Stills, said.
Esports is a new program on Howard University’s campus and allows passionate students to compete for scholarship dollars and prize money to represent their institution.
While Cordae promoted his new album among the students of Howard University, he also took this opportunity to connect and engage in conversations with the students.
“I wanted to really talk and have intimate conversations where I can be enlightened. I feel like that’s what I was put on this earth to do, to inspire- to motivate,” Cordae said. Students were able to participate in a brief open seminar where he answered questions before listening to his new project.
During his brief discussion with students, Cordae inspired students with his reasoning behind naming his new record label, “HiLevel.” The rapper emphasized that the label was a way of life, which inspired his work because “you have to do everything at the highest level that you can. It’s not just a brand. It’s a way of life.”
Cordae also talked about his latest trip to Africa last month, including visits to Ghana and Egypt. He prompted every student to visit Africa in their lifetime and noted how much of a transformative experience it was for him in his brief time there.
“It’s a vibe. The air hit different. The sun hit different. The energy is different. The experience was so inspiring,” he said.
Students were inspired and fueled by the conversation with Cordae, and it allowed for an immersed experience and background into the album before fully listening.
“I always enjoy hearing about an artist’s creative process, so being able to speak with Cordae beforehand about his inspiration made listening to the album even more special. I felt like I got a better understanding of him as an individual, and that made the music resonate with me in a more meaningful way,” junior journalism major Trevonae Williams said.
After the lively discussion, Cordae shared his unreleased album with students. No phones were allowed in the event to ensure that no features or songs were leaked prematurely.
The album was dedicated to Cordae’s late grandmother and was inspired by journal entries he had written before recording his album.
“My mom was like, son, the stuff that you do every day is a blessing, so journal about it, write down all the things you do every day. And I started doing it, and I’m like, wow, I’m looking back on my life, and in this journal, it’s like from a birds-eye view, so that’s what inspired this album,” Cordae said.
After the final track, the room filled with claps from students impressed and excited about Cordae’s new album. Students shared their initial reactions to the album and meeting Cordae with The Hilltop.
Tyrone Smith, the vice president of Howard Esports and junior computer science major, shared his thoughts on Cordae’s latest project.
“The album was fire. Good lyricism, a mix of hard-hitting beats with a few soul samples thrown in there, and overall solid features. Really looking forward to listening to this album on repeat,” Smith said.
Following the listening portion of the event, Cordae was given a merch bag which included a Howard University backpack and t-shirt. In addition, Cordae was also surprised with a large-scale painting of the rapper done by Howard University fine arts student, Eric January.
January, a fan of Cordae, painted the piece titled “From A Birds Eye View” after finding out about Cordae’s plans to visit Howard’s campus.
“It took me a day. Usually, a piece like that would take me like a month, or something. Two months, maybe even more. But, I was so determined, I worked like 17 hours straight with three hours of sleep,” said January.
Before leaving, Cordae visited The Yard to interact with students and fans who could not attend the event. Cordae shared a clip from his time on The Yard and gratitude for Howard students’ energy on a post on Instagram.
Cordae has not released an official date for his album drop but will be visiting six more HBCU institutions throughout September.