What part of the world you live in will determine whether this review goes live before or after Halloween, but for Young Nudy it hardly matters. Although he certainly appears to be enjoying his life in the “My Gang” video — I mean who wouldn’t riding a jet ski like that — the song’s rap reflects an entirely different reality. Nudy has always been a rapper who vacillates between boasting about what he’s got and being paranoid about someone rolling up to take it from him. They say it’s not paranoia if you’re not wrong though, and if I was Young Nudy, I’d want to have “My Gang” around me too.
“Niggaz ain’t part of my gang, then pardon me
Big caliber, it’ll rip ’em apart
Slimeball, show no love for them boys
I’m from the hood where this shit is hard
Gotta know what’cha doin
You got to play it smart”
That’s the challenge for the self-described “Rich Shooter” on his latest project “EA Monster.” He’s a young East Atlanta rapper who has built up an enviable life thanks to a dedicated fanbase and a major label record deal, and he’s now in the position of feeling trapped by the wealth and fame he once chased. You don’t have to take my word for it. “Smoke a lot of weed cause I need it” raps Nudy on “Ready.” He then proceeds to inform us how someone didn’t test him but “tried one of my dudes” so they had to “put that bitch on the news.” Now you’re never supposed to take all of what you hear on an album literally. That would be like believing Star Wars was a historical drama about real life events. Successful rappers revel in blurring the line between art and reality though and Nudy does it more than most. “I ain’t really lyin nigga, I know I been real/since a fuckin young nigga, it’s kill or be killed.”
I end up in discussions with non-rap fans where I tell them that rappers aren’t glorifying the violence they talk about — they’re simply illustrating the reality of the environment for the city/neighborhood/block they come from. I still maintain that position even while listening to Nudy’s duet with BabyDrill titled “Duntsane” but it’s hard to deny “I almost caught my third victim when I was 15” and “you niggaz scared of me/bitch I was popping Glocks at 15” sound like bragging as opposed to just illustrating.
At that point I have to fall back on the old “cinema” trope and point out that just because people watch “Scarface” or “Goodfellas” it doesn’t mean they become drug dealers, mobsters or killers. We’re all capable of separating art from reality and “EA Monster” is definitely art. And what is art then? It requires an artistic vision from a creator, a medium to express that vision with, and an audience to appreciate that vision. As the viewer I contemplate what inspired the art and try to envision what the artist was thinking. That leaves me imagining Young Nudy having a head full of drama and using his pen to pour it out on paper. Even a seemingly innocently titled song like “Kit Kat” is just a metaphor for how he and his fellow slimes “break” the “pussies” around them.
If I had to sum up not just Young Nudy’s latest offering but my total experience of listening to his body of work, his artistic vision paints a portrayal of a dude who is living Halloween all year ’round. He wants to scare people. White people? Of course. Scaring suburban soccer moms and WASP dads has always been good for business. Scaring his enemies? Yeah I would too. Too many young artists with or without “Young” in their name are ending up six feet deep. Scaring his fans? Why not. They get the vicarious thrill of feeling like they’re on a roller coaster with no brakes, yet at the end of the day they get to walk away with no broken bones and no scars. So far from castigating Nudy for his paranoia, I’m taking him at his word, even if he’s exaggerating for dramatic effect. If the life of a “Young” rapper is as “kill or be killed” as he says, scare everyone from January 1st through December 31st and make money off it. I hope he’ll keep on making albums and money from it for decades to come.