Young Nudy refuses to strip himself of his authenticity.
"Sh*t deeper than rap," he broods on "Deeper Than Rap" the bouncy sixth track off Nudy's new mixtape, Anyways. "I done seen a lot of n***** fall off tryna play with that trap." For Nudy, rap stardom is a real danger. After performing at a Super Bowl event in Atlanta last February, Nudy and his cousin 21 Savage were arrested and charged with aggravated assault, the latter being taken into I.C.E. custody for allegedly being "unlawfully present in the U.S." Nudy's currently free but admitted to Pitchfork that the whole ordeal scared him and put his name in headlines for all the wrong reasons. "I thought the promoter had set me up...they didn't tell me sh*t," he said.
While jail time and police encounters have been known to boost a rapper's reputation, Nudy thinks that speaking on legal woes is a corny way to garner acclaim. For him, maintaining "good energy" is imperative. In this sense, Anyways is rife with the same dark humor and sarcasm as 2019's beloved Sli'merre, but Nudy has honed in on his enunciation and often speaks across the project with a new-found sense of conviction. "I done got a lil' older, what y'all don't understand," he says on "Understanding." "I'm not that same n****, but I'm still that same n****."
It's true; Nudy's colorful anecdotes are still scattered throughout, ("N***** out here got my name in they mouth, let my name taste like sh*t."), but after a pretty crazy 2019, Nudy, who has spoken at length about how much he loves solitude, uses Anyways to mostly set the record straight and reaffirm his values. Everything feels more purposeful as a result, but while the instrumentals remain quirky, they don't take center stage as they did on Sli'merre, and that's too bad.
Granted, Nudy wants you to hear what he's saying, and there are still great moments of effervescence on tracks like "Blue Cheese Salad" and "No Comprende," but a lot of the album's heavier moments feel unrefined and, at times, recycled and contradictory. He says on "No Go" that he doesn't want to start any feuds with other rappers, but then a track later he addresses Gunna by name as he briefly questions his authenticity.
But moments of repetition are forgiven when Nudy speaks frankly. He is painfully aware of his toxic relationship with street life and dirty money. On "A Nudy Story," he speaks on his first robbery with nostalgia and recounts feeling intoxicated by the prospect of riches. ("I was amazed by that sh*t, like, "Do they make more of this sh*t?"). He was lured in quickly and was additionally hardened by his dad's sudden departure from his life. They have since reconciled, but the timing of it all made loyalty of the utmost importance to Nudy.
Anyways isn't the shot at mainstream recognition that S'limerre felt like it was. In fact, the former feels like more of a retraction. S'limerre was stacked with hard-hitting features from 21 Savage, Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby and others, but Anyways is a strictly solo venture, and despite their unbreakable kinship, even P'ierre Bourne is notably absent from the project. But the mixtape's unrefined nature feels purposeful when put into a broader lens. The streets are familiar to Nudy, while Hip-Hop stardom, as shown by the recent murder of Pop Smoke last week in Hollywood Hills, is what's truly frightening and unpredictable. Nudy is gonna stay out of it for now and stay moving at his own pace. "I just be on some chill sh*t," he told Pitchfork. "I'm just worried about me. I'm trying to keep up with the future. The world is changing."