Nardo Wick has had the kind of come-up that can be a blueprint for other young artists. His single “Who Want Smoke?” caught fire at the top of the year, marking him as yet another artist to watch in the bustling Jacksonville rap scene. Then the remix, featuring Lil Durk, 21 Savage, and G-Herbo, became one of the biggest songs of the year. 

The remix’s Cole Bennett-directed video has 54 million views in just over a month, on top of the millions of streams on other DSPs. And while “Who Want Smoke?” was still buzzing, Nardo dropped another potential hit single, “Me Or Sum” featuring Future and Lil Baby, a standout track from Who Is Nardo Wick? which was released Friday.

The album title is a reference to Nardo’s public reputation as a private artist who stays out of the mix. While so many of his peers are oversharing for the internet, Nardo’s disdain for “all that on the phone shit” has helped him radiate an air of mystery that’s rare for 2021. He capitalized on that intrigue throughout Who Is Nardo Wick?, an 18-track project full of gruff, surging tracks like the aforementioned hits, as well as “Alright,” “Play Wit Me,” and “Poppin Out” with BIG30. 

The 19-year-old is well on his way to a successful career, and it all started with a $40 mic in 2019. Nardo has said that he felt he had to get out of the streets in order to give his career the focus it deserved, so he spent the previous two years recording at home (with his dad as his engineer), developing his craft while surfing YouTube and watching his favorite artists speak on the industry. He soaked up game, and now he’s ready to ascend.

We talked to the Flawless Entertainment/RCA signee on the eve of Who Is Nardo Wick? and talked about the project, Jacksonville rap, and the advice Future gave him. The conversation, lightly edited for clarity, is below.