Tennis star Naomi Osaka kicked 2023 off with major news: She and her boyfriend, rapper Cordae, are expecting their first child together.
“The past few years have been interesting to say the least, but I find that its the most challenging times in life that may be the most fun,” she wrote. “These few months away from the sport has really given me a new love and appreciation for the game I’ve dedicated my life to. I realize that life is so short and I don’t take any moments for granted, everyday is a new blessing and adventure. I know that I have so much to look forward to in the future, one thing I’m looking forward to is for my kid to watch one of my matches and tell someone, ‘that’s my mom,’ haha. 2023 will be a year that’ll be full of lessons for me and I hope I’ll see you guys in the start of the next one cause I’ll be at Aus 2024. Love you all infinitely.”
“Sidenote : I don’t think there’s a perfectly correct path to take in life but I always felt that if you move forward with good intentions you’ll find your way eventually,” she added.
The stars, both 25, have been together publicly since 2019. But who is Cordae—and what has his love story with Osaka been like? Here, all you need to know.
Cordae is a rapper and songwriter originally from Maryland.
Cordae’s full name is Cordae Amari Dunston, and he is 25 now, born on August 26, 1997 (so he’s a Virgo!) in Raleigh, North Carolina. He grew up in Suitland, Maryland. Per Interview, he was a member of YBN, the hip-hop collective that went viral in 2018. (They all met online.) Cordae attended Towson University from 2015 to 2018 before dropping out and pursuing music full-time. He has since released two albums himself, The Lost Boy (2019) and From a Bird’s Eye View (2022).
He and Naomi Osaka made headlines for visiting the Maryland college’s campus in September 2021 after they attended the Met Gala in New York City.
Osaka and Cordae appeared on GQ together in February 2021 and spoke about their love story.
On the most romantic thing Cordae has ever done, Osaka told the outlet, “Honestly, he’s quite a romantic dude. This is going to take a little bit of backstory, but you know how in the U.S. Open we had to quarantine and we couldn’t really have a lot of people there with us? So for me I’ll always have my dad with me, because he’s sort of like the guy that keeps me calm and he tells one-liners to keep me happy and stuff like that. He was unable to travel with me there. During the whole New York thing and with everything that was going on, I started to feel really depressed. Sometimes I would call Cordae, and maybe in some of the calls I would cry. I don’t remember.” She laughed. “And he flew out, even though he was really busy. I really appreciated that. I’m not sure if I’ve told him that. I feel like he actually really helped me win just, like, keeping up the motivation.”
Cordae was asked the same thing. He revealed Osaka toured with him. “She always comes on tour with me,” he said. “I don’t know if that counts as sweet or romantic. But that’s pretty tight. It’s like she’s the only girl in the crew. You know how a tour bus goes: It’s me, the band, security, the homies, tour management, lights, sound engineer. You know what I’m saying? She’ll just take time out of, you know, whatever she got going on training and things of that nature to just come with us on tour for, like, two weeks at a time.”
The public learned the two were dating at the U.S. Open in 2019, but they actually started seeing each other almost a year before.
Cordae told GQ, “We were dating for almost a year before people knew about us. So we kind of move very reclusively.”
Of that U.S. Open where they went public with their dating in late August 2019, Cordae said, “I don’t know if I ever told Naomi this or not, but I felt really out of place. Like, that was my first time being in an environment like that in my entire life. My elementary school, middle school, high school was 99.9 percent Black. Kids who look like me. It just felt really weird for me being in that space. That was my first tennis match ever.”
Cordae and Osaka keep their relationship largely private and off social media.
This is on purpose, Cordae explained to GQ in February 2021. “We don’t really post intimate moments, because I feel as though they’re sacred. A relationship is really a sacred thing. Once you let outside influences get into it, it becomes less sacred.”
Cordae and Osaka attended the Met Gala together in 2021.
When Osaka co-chaired the September 2021 Met Gala, Cordae was by her side. The two made a rare red carpet appearance at the event, posing together.
Cordae and Osaka’s first date was at a Los Angeles Clippers game.
They had exchanged numbers before ultimately going out, and Osaka had trouble finding Cordae in the stadium. She recalled FaceTiming him and her first impression of him that night to GQ. “We were on FaceTime trying to find each other because the arena was so big,” she said. “And I just remember seeing that there were so many people who wanted to take a picture with him. And I just thought it was really cool how friendly and welcoming he was with everyone.”
Cordae measures his music’s success by its impact on other people and tour turnout more than any awards.
In a February 2022 discussion conducted by his friend Michael B. Jordan for Interview magazine, Cordae spoke about how he would evaluate the success of his second album From a Bird’s Eye View. “Awards are a beautiful thing,” Cordae started. “Whether we acknowledge it or not, something deep down inside of us wants to be recognized for our art. But the number-one way I measure impact is how it makes people feel. When I’m out at the mall or grocery store, and people come up to me and be like, ‘Yo man, that album saved my life. This one song got me out of a dark place. That shit was relatable as fuck.’ That’s like 30 Grammys to me.”
“Another way I measure success is when I’m on tour,” he continued. “Numbers can be skewed very easily, especially within the music industry. There’s artists that will do like 200,000 streams in the first week, but they can’t sell out Webster Hall. A fan can love you so much that they can go to sleep and press play on your album and repeat it all night just to spike up your numbers. I’m not saying everyone is doing that, but you can’t fake the support you get at a live show. People gotta get out of their house, get in the car, drive, and pay money to actually come see you. Same way, when you drop a film and it does these incredible numbers in theaters, people have to put in the energy and effort to support you.”
Cordae said he has locked his phone at points and disconnected to focus on song writing.
To Jordan in Interview, he detailed the extreme lengths he has gone to stay focused on his craft. “Honestly, I just need some damn speakers, some earphones, and peace and quiet [to work and create new songs],” he said. “What I do now is, I lock my phone up in this little vault I’ve got in the studio. And I got this other phone that don’t have no service, no internet, no nothing. And I just write on that. Because the phone is a magnificent thing, but it’s also terrible because it has so many capabilities. I just gotta lock that thing in a way to stay focused.”
Cordae is close to Michael B. Jordan, but his closest friends are those he’s known for years, pre-fame.
While he and Jordan are good friends, Cordae told Jordan for Interview that his best friends are those he has known for years. “I try to keep as many day-ones around me as possible,” he said. “The ones that are ready for this shit. Early on, I was like ‘I’m trying to bring the whole hood with me.’ But I learned that’s not really the proper way to move in business and everybody ain’t necessarily prepared for this lifestyle.”
“So I was able to go through friends of mine that I grew up with and be like, ‘You’re naturally skilled at this thing. So let’s bring you on the road. You’re a great people-person and you’re organized, so you’re gonna be my road manager,’” he continued. “My other homie Ian is really dope with clothes and style. ‘Okay, bet. You got creative direction, and you style shit.’ That’s the people around me that I went to high school with. And also, you build your own tribe within the space of entertainment. There’s a whole lot of fake love, a whole lot of inorganic shit. But when you connect with like-minded individuals that’s on the same sort of divine kinsmanship, as I call it, you continue to build your tribe based on that. Because you find out, especially through this entertainment shit, who really fucks with you, and who’s just fucking with you out of convenience, impure intentions, all type of shit. And I had to learn that shit! It took a minute for me to truly get that. But honestly, I keep the circle tight. If I fuck with you, I fuck with you the long way. I’d take a bullet for you. You know what I’m saying?”
Cordae purposely pretends not to be a millionaire.
In January 2022, Cordae told Apple Music 1, via HipHop DX, that he has purposely not let fame and wealth distort who he is. “I’m still living in this social experiment of me not having anything,” he said. “And now I have access to money, to millions of dollars. And it became fearful almost for me, I’m like, oh, I have this, I’m able to accumulate this amount of money, and I’m just being repugnant with it, not trying to spend anything, not enjoying myself, not treating myself to anything.”
“That’s how I was my first couple of years, I was still living with my manager when I didn’t have to, I was a millionaire living with my manager, just out of fear of blowing, because you hear so many stories about all this living beyond they means, blowing all they money, all of these things,” he said. “So I was a super extremist with it.”
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.