It’s fair to say that YBN Cordae had a wild 2019. The release of his debut album The Lost Boy in July, a Grammy nomination in November and, finally, capping off the year playing Perth’s Origin Fields festival alongside heavy hitters Skepta and Tyler the Creator on New Years Eve.

Just prior to finishing the year… well actually, the decade, with a bang, Cordae stopped off at Melbourne’s Puma store for a special one-off show for only 25 fans. The frenzied set included crowd favourites "RNP" and "Kung Fu", with Cordae bouncing between performing on stage and on the floor, getting hype among his devoted fans.

After the in-store set, Cordae sat down with Complex AU for a brief Q&A about his relationship with Puma and the process of flipping sneakers to pay for his studio equipment.

We're here in the Puma store, and you seem to have a great relationship with the brand. What do you consider when you connect with a brand like Puma? I'm sure there's plenty of other brands trying to throw a bag at you.
For sure. Puma just, they really rock with me the long way. They've been rockin with me for a while. Puma have been fuckin with me like ... 8 months before I dropped The Lost Boy, so that shows faith in me as an artist. They're like, the rich godmother, you know what I'm sayin? Like anytime I need some tour support they got me. I just always wear Pumas. I like the work they do in local communities, worldwide.

That's an interesting point because for me, Puma and Nipsey Hussle were such a great combination, but also they roll with Meek, and with DeMarcus Cousins who does a lot of community work as well. Is that something that factors into your decision?
Hell yea bro I love Puma. That was definitely a huge thing, seeing the community work.

What would the Cordae signature sneaker look like?
The most dripped shit you've ever seen. I'm working on it now, and I'm taking my time on it, cos I just want it to be really dope, you know what I'm sayin. I just really want it to be dope.

Wait a minute, so there is actually going to be a Puma Cordae sneaker?

Are you taking an existing model and flipping it?
Probably the Rider or the RS-X, those are my favourite.

You were talking about being in the jet for the first time – have you been in the Puma jet?
That was my first jet! The Puma jet. Again, Puma is like my rich godmom you know what I'm sayin [laughs].

YBN Cordae at Puma's Melbourne store
Image via Puma Australia

I love the story that you flipped sneakers to pay for your studio equipment. How were you actually getting those sneakers to resell? Were you camping outside the stores?
I would trade. I would get the number one hype shoe; I would save up. I was working summer jobs since I was like 11. I was like 10 going to my aunt's house where they had front lawns, cutting the grass and shit. I would save up and get that one hype shoe, and when you get a shoe at it's all time hype, you can get three pairs of shoes for that one shoe. So I just kept flippin, kept flippin. 

Was that all deadstock stuff or worn sneakers as well?
It was like, worn shit; I would go to SneakerCon. And at SneakerCon at the end of the day, everybody's just thirsty for cash so you can get, like, 3 pairs for $150

Right and then you take those and flip em for like $100 each and profit that way.

You've spoken before about how prior to blowing up, you used to wear Balenciaga and other high-end designer brands. And now that you're on, it's more like your own tour merch and more basic stuff. Why do you think that is?
You try to make up for what you don't got. And also sometimes you just wanna feel good and look good. That was when I was in school, so I tried to be fresh; you're in a social setting with females and stuff so I was like 'I gotta be fresh every day now'. I don't gotta be fresh for nobody else now though. My fans fuck with me for who I am not what I'm wearing.  

So you think you're more confident in yourself now and you don't need the designer stuff anymore?
Yea. But some designer here and there never hurt nobody.