Will Hagle used to walk the Target dog around the block.
All the pieces are in place for Young Nudy, a high school dropout who’s been to jail and was fired after a month working at Target for righteously refusing to clean up a pile of shit in the bathroom, to succeed.
He’s been working with Pierre Bourne, the of-the-moment producer behind the “Magnolia” beat, since the start of both their careers. He founded his own label, PDE, to put out a consistent string of mixtapes that have been accumulating buzz online. He’s a charismatic character who talks and raps however he wants, approaching music with the same carefree attitude as Gucci Mane, who happens to hail from his same East Atlanta neighborhood. He’s 21 Savage’s cousin. He’s riding the wave of the “mumble rap” phenomenon that’s overtaken his hometown, but he’s different enough that he won’t be pigeonholed.
Nudy just released his second mixtape of 2017, Nudy Land. The project, like Slime Ball and Slime Ball 2 before it, primarily features production by Pierre Bourne. Bourne, according to an interview with The Fader, met Nudy through a series of fortuitous connections. When DJ Burn One gave a guest lecture at Bourne’s engineering school, the SAE Institute, Bourne showed him one of his beats. Burn One was impressed enough to bring Bourne to Cory Mo’s Mad Studios. The studio offered Bourne a job, and Nudy was his first client. They’ve been working together ever since.
Bourne’s beats could make anyone sound better, but there’s a clear synergy between his and Nudy’s respective styles. While the two haven’t created a hit of the same magnitude as “Magnolia” or “Wokeuplikethis,” Bourne’s production seems poised to propel Nudy forward the same way it’s done for Playboi Carti. Both Nudy and Bourne seem committed to the working relationship, understanding that they started together, even as their friends and family members have blown up around them.
Nudy’s relationship with 21 Savage, like any familial connection in the entertainment industry, will likely be both helpful and a hindrance. Nudy will have an easier time attracting his cousin’s fans, but he’ll also have to deal with the inevitable comparisons. His lyrics strive for the same sort of bleak nihilism, matter-of-fact reports of robbing and killing people then laughing about it. The way Nudy raps, though, is what differentiates him.
At times, like on Nudy Land’s “Loaded Baked Potato,” Nudy barely talks, his voice croaking in a weird high-pitched half-whisper. On “Bermuda,” the strength of his voice diminishes even further. The hook for “Money Making Mitch” goes a step stranger still, with Nudy seemingly singing from the back of his throat. When he uses his voice at full strength, like on “Ferris Wheel,” he achieves an entirely new sound. Like many of Nudy’s more melodic peers in Atlanta, the variance between Nudy’s vocal approaches from song to song makes each of them easier to appreciate for different reasons, and Nudy a more well-rounded artist as a whole.
One of the best ways for an artist to build distinct personality on record is to repeatedly revisit specifics, like Mick Jenkins talking about ginger ale or Vince Staples talking about Sprite. Young Nudy hasn’t yet endorsed a soda, but he does talk a lot about a certain Texaco in Zone 6, and he repeatedly asserts that he’s been doing the things he does since he was thirteen. His album art tends to have Chucky in it, which is either a Geto Boys reference or a successful attempt at making the scary things he says even scarier.
Even though Nudy utilizes horror film imagery and violent lyricism, there’s an undeniable levity about him. He’s funny in his day-to-day life, and that aspect of his personality seeps into his songs, which have names like “Butt Naked Bitches,” “Nutsack,” and the aforementioned “Loaded Baked Potato.” Some of his lyrics, like “Black lives matter, so you know I keep a black gun” from Slime Ball 2’s “Peon,” could be construed as problematic. But that line follows Nudy saying, “You know I keep a gun on me, not going out like Trayvon.” Then, in a catchy melodic end to the hook, Nudy insists that you can’t call him racist.
It feels like a new artist from Atlanta finds success every few weeks, only to fade from public consciousness as quickly as they appeared. In this ADD industry, there’s no denying that Nudy could fall victim to that same cycle. With the solid support he has surrounding him—Pierre Bourne, 21 Savage, his PDE associates, featured artists Offset, Lil Yachty, and Juicy J—that seems unlikely. If the only thing that matters is the music, it’d be impossible.