EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Atlanta rapper Nechie speaks on his new project "Shady Baby", growing up with Gunna, the legacy he wants to leave behind, and more.
Growing up as close childhood friends with superstar rapper Gunna, you might expect there to be a sort of one-upmanship-dynamic in the relationship. Atlanta's rising star Nechie has quite the opposite bond with his friend, though.
From a young age, Nechie knew that he and Gunna would be successful in the entertainment industry. "We was kids and already knew we was stars," says the "Like A Dream" artist about how he and Gunna had the streets on lock when they were growing up. Nechie was always aware of his ability to entertain large crowds-- he's just doing it on a national scale now.
On the first track from Nechie's brand new project Shady Baby, executive produced by Gunna, the College Park-raised artist admits that he's watched Young Thug, Lil Keed, and a bunch of his close friends make millions off of rap. He says that he's ready for his turn, forcing his way into the conversation and capitalizing off a buzz he built from his features on Gunna's chart-topping album WUNNA and Young Thug's YSL Records compilation Slime Language.
Gunna clearly believes in Nechie's ability to become a star, telling us that it was a pleasure executive producing Shady Baby for him. "It was easy because I was working with my brother," he told us in a written statement. "The vibe was natural and genuine. We tap into the same wave link! I’m excited about this project and it’s one of many more to come!"
With Shady Baby, it feels like Nechie has finally arrived. The ten-track project was released today and, to celebrate, we got in touch with Nechie over a video call to discuss everything that brought him to this point in his life, including his origins in one of rap's historically-spotlighted zones, his connection to Gunna, and the legacy he wants to leave behind.
Read our editorial interview with Nechie, slightly edited for clarity and length, below.
Photo credit: Diwang Valdez
HNHH: What's up, Nechie? How's it going?
Oh, man. I'm great, man. The weather's cold. My neck is cold. I'm cool, I'm cool.
Are you in Atlanta right now?
Yeah, I'm in Atlanta.
What's it like out there? It feels like it's wide open...
It's like a party on every street!
That sounds like fun. I wanted to start off by asking you, for anybody who doesn't know, who is Nechie?
Southside don, man. The biggest thing to come out of College Park besides my brother. I'm like-- I could put it in both ways. I'm sweet and sour.
So you came up in College Park, as you said. Tell me about your earlier days as a rapper coming up from there.
We was already neighborhood stars before we started doing music, you know I'm saying? We was already the guys, the boys everybody wanted to hang with. The rap thing do nothing but increase it. What the rapping did for us was when you leave outside of your comfort zone or your neighborhood or your block, people know you. So it changed and we started seeing it-- you got people walking up on us who don't even know us like, "Ay, you're Nechie, what's up?" So it was something we had to adjust to.
And now it's like that on a larger scale too like, I'm sure you're getting recognized nationally.
Listen, I went to the gas station last night, man, just to get some apple juice, and the dude just stopped me but I'm still-- it's still growing on me. I'm just at the gas station at like 11 o'clock at night and he's like, "Hey, yo, Nechie, what's up, bro? Oh, you're having a conversation?" And I'm like, why are you just talking to me? But, like, I understand it's the music.
Was music always in the cards for you? Or did you have any other career aspirations?
Rap was my goal. Since I was little I always knew that. I just always wanted to rap. I was real musical and played the drums. I really had no other outlet, it was just music with me. I'm into movies, though. I want to start looking into film stuff. I really like that type of stuff. I'm a big fan of movies, series, and just films. If I had another avenue besides music, I'd say movies and stuff like that. Trying to make a movie, trying to create a vision to see.
A lot of artists go into acting but it's not that many that have expressed an interest in film production. That's really cool.
Right! You just took everything I just said and put it in one concise statement.
I got you, man! In music, who are your biggest inspirations?
Oh, my brother, Gunna. He's my biggest inspiration.
You started getting serious with music after the death of your close friend. Can you tell us about what happened and how that situation shaped your music career?
It made me cherish the people around me more, first of all, and it woke me up to the trap, you know what I mean? The trap that they want people to fall into. He was very close-close-close-close family. You know, I eyeball the young kids and stuff, man, just stay a kid. Continue to be a kid. Don't grow up too fast. Once you're grown, there ain't no going back. But the situation was, you know, just being grown at a young age. Being grown at the wrong age. And I lost-- we lost a friend. I lost a close friend in this situation. He was always writing music. So it just made me want to do it more cause that's something he loved.
"The situation was, you know, just being grown at a young age. Being grown at the wrong age. And I lost-- we lost a friend. I lost a close friend in this situation. He was always writing music. So it just made me want to do it more cause that's something he loved."
So you're cherishing his memory now.
Yeah, definitely. Definitely, man. I mean, that's what we do it for.
Let's talk about your new project Shady Baby. What does it mean to you?
It's my baby. It's my child, you know. It's gonna be a lot. It's a lot of storytelling. It's a lot of partying, fun, you know what I mean? Street. Real rough. It's real rough. We need rough sometimes.
Would you call it a mixtape or an album?
To me, everything is an album. But it's an EP.
What's the difference between a mixtape, an album, and an EP to you?
I don't really understand the terms of it all. To me, everything is an album. Everything you do, treat it as an album regardless of what it is. It could be a song, you still want to treat it like an album.
What type of storytelling can we expect on Shady Baby?
Stories about being a shady baby because a shady baby is where we're from. We're from College Park, but we from a neighborhood beside College Park called Pointer Ridge, aka Shady Park. Lots of us came from there so we're shady babies. It's where we're from, you know what saying? We grew up here. This is our turf. That's the whole thing of Shady Baby. Like, I'm a shady baby. As a baby, this is where I came from. I didn't go nowhere. Everything was straight here.
What's your favorite song on the project?
Okay, my favorite. Do you mind going first?
I really liked the one with Lil Durk, the one that you just dropped as a single.
"Like a Dream?" That's a good one. You know what, man, you got good ears. My two favorites are "Hard Body" and "Debate."
Why those two particularly?
Because it's two different Nechies. It's the rough Nechie, and the more calm or laid back Nechie. So it's like your favorite song "Like a Dream" and "No Lackin." That's two different Nechies. Right? That's why I like them two songs because it's two different Nechies. You get the rough Nechie on "Debate", the club Nechie, the fun Nechie, the energy. And then on "Hard Body" and "Like a Dream", you get the real laid back Nechie, the player, you know what I'm saying, cause I am a player.
You're showing your versatility. It's nice to see that from a rising artist like you.
Right. You're right. And that's what I want people to realize because you just can't give them all of it at once. You got to build on them. So you know, what's your second favorite?
I have to go with "Stackin It". That one goes hard.
Right. Right, right.
What did you end up learning about yourself while making this project?
I'm still learning. I'm still learning.
How would you say you've progressed as an artist between 2019's Southside Nechi and Shady Baby?
You can hear it in the songs, you hear it in the cadence. You can hear it in the punchlines. There are more better songs. You keep doing anything for too long, it's gone get done. There are indications in the songs and stuff.
That's what they say. Once you put in your 10,000 hours, you become an expert at something. I'm sure you've put in more than 10,000 hours at this point...
Right. I'm one of them guys where I feel like I gotta make something before I leave. It can be just one song and I'm happy. I'm one of those guys where I'll beat myself up about a song that sometimes you wanna put off.
Are you a perfectionist?
Yes. Everybody should be to their own degree. You know what I mean with work, to the body of work.
Word. Gunna is the executive producer of your new project. You two were childhood friends, as you said. What was it like growing up with him?
We were cool. We had some bumps and bruises growing up. Young boys, they gonna get into stuff. We wasn't more than like, four houses down the street. Like, we were close like across the street.
What's a moment that stands out to you when you just knew in your head that Gunna was gonna be a superstar?
It was a lot of dreaming. We was kids and already knew we was stars. I can't say I always knew he was a star, I always knew he was gonna go. It was the work we had to put in to get it. I always knew it was gonna come. It was just a matter of time on when it was gonna come.
What was it like working on "Like a Dream" with Lil Durk? He's one of the hottest rappers at the moment.
We didn't do it together. I did the song. Booka heard the song and was like, "bro, this sound like Durk need to be on this." I'm like, sh*t, let's make it happen. So you know brody called, Gunna called him up and we put him on.
What's the process like then when you're not in the studio with the other artist? Were you guys just sending back the files and staying in communication?
It's really a one-time thing, you know? Durk is a real one. As soon as it got sent over, it was probably four days and he sent back his verse and it was done. So it wasn't even really difficult. We got to go back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. It was really just, boom. He sent it back. It was done.
What can you tell us about working with Yak Gotti too? He's starting to make a lot of noise out of YSL.
Oh, man, he was bound to make some noise. Yak man-- that's one of the artists the world gon' love, man. His energy, voice, beats, his choice of rhythm. You know what I'm saying, we like it. Everything with him is fun. Making music, talking to Yak on the phone is fun. Energy, you know, the energy is just so strong. He's the life of the party.
What's your personal connection with YSL Records? You were featured on the first Slime Language tape but are you signed to them? Because I know you're signed to Interscope.
Right. Well, it's a family thing. My family. It's for life. This is my family so it's like, regardless of what's going on with any paperwork or anything, I'm YSL.
"[YSL] is for life. This is my family so it's like, regardless of what's going on with any paperwork or anything, I'm YSL."
Do you have any involvement with Slime Language 2?
I can't say.
No worries, man. Do you have any stories about the making of "ADDYS" with Gunna?
That was just one of them party nights. Already in the day.
Were you guys in Jamaica for that one?
No, we didn't make "ADDYS" in Jamaica. It was just a fun night, man. You know every day is a fun night over there, man.
Who would you say is running Atlanta right now?
That's what I was expecting to hear. What are your goals for the rest of the year?
For 2021 man, make more music. More videos. More positive energy. That's the main goal. I mean, more money. Positive energy, more life.
After Shady Baby, do you have another project coming out in 2021?
Yeah, man, after Shady Baby another project is definitely on the way.
Do you have any closing words for the fans?
Hey, man, go get that new Shady Baby, man!
Appreciate you, Nechie. Thanks so much for taking the time, man.
Alright, man. Stay up. Stay blessed. Stay safe.