Young Nudy uses the word “vibe” a lot. But not in the corny way that an overzealous bro in SoCal might say it. The 27-year-old rapper makes all his decisions based on the energy he feels around him, so the word invariably makes its way into most of his conversations.
“I’m an energy person,” he says, stretched out on a couch inside Manhattan’s Premier Studios. “I go off your vibe. Whatever your vibe is with me, that’s how I am with you. But other than that, my vibe all day is just laughing and silly.” Later, he puts it more simply: “I’m a vibe person. That’s just me.” This mentality leaks into his music. Nudy has made a career out of floating over unorthodox beats from producers like Pi’erre Bourne, and he records in an instinctual, off-the-top-of-his-head manner that requires a certain kind of atmosphere. For a song like his elastic new single “No Go” to emerge from the recording studio, the vibe needs to be right.
Five days before the release of his new mixtape, Anyways, the vibes are complicated. The news of Pop Smoke’s death earlier in the day has cast a somber mood over everyone in the room. But Nudy leans on his sneakily sharp sense of humor to make everyone around him feel at ease, as he excitedly reads a series of artist names from the lineup for the recently-announced Lovers & Friends music festival. By nature, Nudy is quiet, but he always finds a way to make sure the energy is good around him. Acknowledging that most people mistake him for being antisocial, he says, “They think I’m probably trying to do some shit that I’m not supposed to be doing. I’m not trying to do none of that. I just be wanting to chill.” He adds, “If y’all come in, your energy is good, and you say something to me, my energy is going to be good back to you. Good energy. Good vibes.”
The Atlanta rapper has a lot to be excited about these days. 2019’s Pi’erre Bourne-produced Sli’merre was a critical darling, earning a top 10 spot on Complex’s Best Albums of 2019 list. Now, he’s getting ready to kick off 2020 with a 16-track project and an accompanying tour (see dates at the bottom of this page). And despite his low key demeanor, Nudy isn’t afraid to say that he wants to become one of the biggest artists in the world. But, of course, he wants to do it his way.
“I want to be big like [an artist like Drake],” he says, as a cloud of smoke wafts in from the room next door. “You know who I like? Even though I wouldn’t dress like him or no shit like that, but J. Cole. He’s low key, but he’s big as fuck. I’m trying to be big as fuck, but still low key.”
Last year, his leaked collaboration with Playboi Carti, known to fans as “Kid Cudi / Pissy Pamper,” rose to No. 1 on Spotify’s Viral 50 chart, but was never officially released due to sample clearance issues. Acknowledging that he doesn’t know if or when it will ever be formally released on streaming services, he does give fans a glimmer of hope by adding, “One day. One special day. It gon’ be spectacular. They gon’ be happy as hell. It might just come out of the blue.”
For now, his focus is on Anyways, which hit streaming services on Monday afternoon. The 16-song project is full of production on “some futuristic type shit,” he says. “Some George Jetson type shit. Flying shoes and all that shit shit. This shit is going to be so hard.”
Young Nudy sat with Complex for a conversation about vibes, video games, and Anyways. The interview, lightly edited for clarity and length, is below.
Last year, you told us your favorite place to record is in “nasty, ratchet-ass motels.” Where did you record this mixtape?
That one came from the city [Atlanta], and we recorded some of it in L.A. I like recording in motels and shit, though. Faded In the Booth was recorded in a motel. The whole thing. Motel style. I like that.
What energy did you tap into for this mixtape?
I just have fun. I wanted to really rap, but I ain’t trying to over-rap myself and try do all the extra shit. I still do it my way. I just made it a little better.
I’ve heard you say that you “transform” when you get in the booth. What does that look like, exactly?
What it look like is, if you ask me to freestyle right now, I can’t freestyle. But if I go in that booth right now, then it’s like some magical shit. It’s like my little superpower or something. As soon as I step in the booth, it just cut on. All of a sudden I can just rap out of the blue. For real, for real. I don’t even know where that shit be coming from. I just need to be in front of a mic. If that mic is in my face and I'm in a closed box, I just turn into a rapper. I don't know. The mic is like my mighty morpher.
You make lots of your songs really fast, sometimes as quickly as five minutes. Have you ever thought about approaching it the opposite way and taking a few days on a song?
I can’t do it like that. It wouldn’t flow. I tried it before. I made up little pieces I would come back to a few days later and try to think of some crazy shit to add. But if I don’t do it right then, it’s over with.
How would you describe the vibe in the studio as you made this mixtape?
We went to L.A. in September. We were in the studio every night until 8:00 a.m. I was in the studio trying to pick the songs. I felt like I had the songs, and then I was like, no, I want to make some more shit. So I got back to Atlanta in like December I recorded the rest of the shit.
There are 16 songs on Anyways. How did you pick those? Did you just try to pick the 16 very best songs you had?
No. Hell no. That’s why I had to go back and make some more, because it was all about making songs with energy that match each other. It needs to flow. Like a river.
Do you have a memory that stands out from the making of Anyways?
I think two people fell out in the studio on weed. [Laughs]. They couldn't hang. They fell out of the motherfucker. It happened twice. In L.A. and in Atlanta. That's right. They couldn't contain the smoke, man. Shit.
I’ve always liked the beats you pick. I don’t want to say they’re weird beats, but—
You’re saying it right. That’s what I call it. I call them weird beats.
What kinds of beats were you looking for when you made Anyways?
Some futuristic type shit. Some George Jetson type shit. Flying shoes and all that shit. This shit is going to be so hard. I can’t wait. Then I’ve got some little slow, laid back OG stuff.
Playboi Carti recently came up with his baby voice flow and other rappers have seen success trying weird shit, like 645AR, who squeak-raps. You come up with unique flows, too. Do you ever get in the booth and experiment with the weirdest flows sounds you can think of?
Hell yeah. Any voice you hear on my music is mine. Every damn voice you hear. All the way down to me being funny or talking shit on my music. All that shit is me. I really just don’t want to sound the same. I like switching things up. You know how some folks songs sound the same? I think that’s why a lot of people fuck with my shit. When I be rapping, my flow will change. My first verse, or the way I’m rapping, it ain’t gonna sound like my second verse. It’s always going to be different. Something’s always gotta be different. It has to.
“They still be sleeping, but I got to the point where I don’t even give a f*ck. It’s all about the Nudy fans now.”
Was there anything you tried on this mixtape that you hadn’t tried before?
I kind of learned how to catch my words when I start rapping fast. I learned how to catch my words by slowing myself down a little bit, so I won’t over-rap my words. That’s where a lot of that “pshhh” shit came from, because I was moving too fast.
20 Rocket has a few songs on here, and your last project was fully produced by Pi’erre Bourne. Is it important for you to keep going back to the same producers?
Yeah. Once I get cool with you, I can vibe with you. Because then I can always tell you what I like. But if I ain’t vibing with you, or I can’t get in contact with you and tell you this shit’s whack, or whatever... Man, you fucked up, buddy. Yes, sir.
Your fans always call you underrated, and I know you’ve said you feel underappreciated in the past. Do you still feel like that?
Yeah, man. They still be sleeping, but I got to the point where I don’t even give a fuck. It’s all about the Nudy fans now. Yeah, man. The Nudy fans love me. Then shit, I know somebody loves me. Folk are catching onto it, though. Shit has been progressing more. It ain’t going down. It always goes up. I wouldn’t let myself go down. I’ll show my ass in the industry before I let myself go down. Show my real color. [They’ll be like], “I did not know he act like that.” [Laughs].
The rappers who get the most attention are often the ones who are the loudest on social media. You’re naturally a low key guy, but have you thought about trying to do all that stuff more?
I like being myself. Unless I get some little funny shit to post on Instagram. But other than that, I like being myself. I don’t like to post. I like being in the cut. In due time, though. Everybody’s going to catch on and know I’m here.
Do you have aspirations of being the biggest rapper in the world? Would you want to be as famous as someone like Drake?
Hell, yeah. I want to be big like that. You know who I like? Even though I wouldn’t dress like him or no shit like that, but J. Cole. Yeah, he’s low key, but he’s big as fuck. I’m trying to be big as fuck, but still low key. Yeah, I like that.
I feel like that's what guys like Kendrick are able to do.
Yeah, Kendrick Lamar. He’s super low key. That nigga like a ghost right now. [Laughs].
Have you thought about other ways of letting fans in on your personality more? I know you've mentioned starting a video game channel.
Yeah, we’ve talked about the little video game shit. I’m trying to do it for Grand Theft Auto, most definitely. Yeah, shoot ’em up, bang bang on GTA. I’m really waiting for a new mode to come out on Call of Duty, too. But that shit ain’t unlocked yet, though.
Do you ever play video games with other artists?
I only play with Savage. That shit regular to me, so I don’t even count him. I really only play with my fans. I play with my fans on everything I do. I been telling them if they want to interact with me, just come play the game. Just don’t come asking me a thousand questions about my songs and all this. I just want to play the game and talk shit. And I ask them a thousand questions. I be interviewing them. I be wanting to know what they got going on. There be a lot of folk having some issues and shit going on.
21 Savage shared a video of himself on Instagram Stories the other day singing along to an unreleased song of yours. Do you send songs to him to get feedback?
Oh no. Hell no. He just be on shit like, “Send me something.” Because I won’t be sending nobody shit. He be telling me I’m on that Hollywood shit. So I send him some shit.
Does he give you feedback?
Yeah, he’ll let me know if he likes it or not or whatever. But I send all my songs to a couple of my partners. And my cousins and friends. And they’ll let me know like, “Yeah, I like that right now.” Shit like that. [21 Savage] always sends me shit, too.
Do you guys still make much music together?
No. When we be with each other, we just be kickin’ it on some regular shit. I like it, though. He know me, and I don’t like being around all that rap shit. I like to chill and kick it.
I know you want to be an entrepreneur after music. Have you thought about starting your own label and putting on new artists?
I’m working on it. Slowly building.
Are there any business ventures outside of music you want to do?
I want to do lots of shit. I just got to figure out what my brain wants to do.
“I’m trying to be big as f*ck, but still low key.”
Do you have an end date in mind for when you want to stop doing music and focus on other ventures?
No. I ain’t really on no shit like I’m trying to end my shit. But I also ain’t one of them niggas like, “I want to rap forever. I’ma have a heart attack if I can’t rap no more.” Hell no. But I am going to try to make my career last. But lit, though. Not one of them wash up artists. Nah. Lit, though. Like some JAY-Z type shit. JAY-Z old as hell, but he sell out some shit. I’m going to try and be like that.
Your leaked song with Playboi Carti, “Kid Cudi / Pissy Pamper” blew up last year, but it’s still not out because of sample clearance issues. What are your feelings about that situation now?
I don’t know. Shit, I don't know. [Looks around at management and laughs]. I ain’t got nothing to say. Shit, I don't know. One day. One day. One day. One special day. It gon’ be spectacular. They gon’ be happy as hell. It might just come out of the blue.
Since you’re often so quiet, do you think people have misconceptions about you?
I am a people person. I’m an energy person. I go off your vibe. Whatever your vibe is with me, that’s how I am with you. But other than that, my vibe all day is just laughing and silly. I like to kick it and chill.
So, you think people believe you’re antisocial?
Yeah, they think I'm antisocial. They think I’m probably trying to do some shit that I’m not supposed to be doing. I’m not trying to do none of that. I just be wanting to chill. You ain’t got to do nothing but just approach me. If you ain’t going to approach me, then you ain’t gonna know, because I’m not just going to approach nobody. You feel? That’s just me. I am a little antisocial type shit. Semi. You feel me? I ain’t going to be going around just talking to folks. But if y’all come in, your energy good, and you say something to me, my energy is going to be good back to you. Yeah. Good energy. Good vibes. Bring everything in. Most definitely. So I just be chilling.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of rappers from Atlanta. But I noticed you’ve never made music with is Young Thug. Have you talked with him much?
Yeah, I’ve talked to him before.
Is he someone you would want to work with at some point?
I mean, shit. You know, I don’t know. I don’t mind about making that shit with him. I mean, I ain’t tripping on no shit like that. Like I said, I don’t be pressing to make music with nobody.
Right. If it happens, it happens.
You feel me. I’m a vibe person. That’s just me. You got to vibe with me. You want to make some music, I got to come and kick it with you. So you need to put that in there: “He don’t want to make no music with your ass if he can’t come kick it and vibe around you.” You feel me? Vibe be everything. I like to just come kick it. Shit.
What do you want people to know about Anyways before they listen for the first time?
I like that shit.
You like the project?
Yeah. For real. And they need to like it, too. [Laughs]. For real, for real.
What is something you want to achieve in 2020?
I just want to keep making money. Make more money than what I made. And make more good music for my fans and the people that’s ready to get hip to me. And a lot of folks need to tell me what they like. Because I can make all types of music. But until then I’m just going to go off of my vibe. I just vibe in different ways with it.
Young Nudy Tour Dates:
3/20 - Oxford, MS @ The Lyric Oxford
3/21 - Memphis, TN @ Growlers
3/24 - Dallas, TX @ Trees Dallas
3/25 - Houston, TX @ The Studio at Warehouse Live
3/27 - San Antonio, TX @ The Aztec Theater
3/28 - Austin, TX @ Come and Take It Live
3/31 - Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
4/1 - Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
4/3 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy Theatre
4/4 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim's
4/7 - Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
4/9 - Minneapolis, MN @ The Fine Line
4/10 - Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
4/11 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
4/13 - Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
4/15 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
4/16 - New York, NY @ The Gramercy Theatre
4/18 - Huntington, NY @ The Paramount
4/20 - Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry
4/22 - Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore
4/24 - Charlotte, NC @ The Underground
4/25 - Charleston, SC @ Music Farm
4/28 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Varsity Theatre
4/29 - Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
4/30 - Atlanta, GA @ Believe Music Hall