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Young Nudy/Pi’erre Bourne - Sli’merre Music Album Reviews

On one of the best rapper/producer collaborations of the year, the Atlanta MC remains a perfect fit for Pi’erre Bourne’s weird and heavy beats.

Sli’merre, the first co-billed project from finesse rapper Young Nudy and producer extraordinaire Pi’erre Bourne, is a bit like the iconic photo of Dwyane Wade’s no-look celebration of his alley-oop to LeBron James during the crest of the Miami Heat basketball dynasty. Wade, arms outstretched and expectant, already awaiting praise for a thrilling tag-team move only half complete, is like Bourne, whose beats are usually so dynamic and perfectly executed all that’s left is to not fuck up the finish. The tape, like the photo, is a signature moment encapsulating years of collaboration. It is teammates getting the best out of each other after developing a sixth sense for one another.

Atlanta rapper Young Nudy is perhaps best known as the target of the sting operation that led to his cousin 21 Savage being apprehended by ICE during the Super Bowl. He is a two-dimensional character best when placed in the middle of the action, which allows him to react instead of think and run through a myriad of rap deliveries on instinct. Pi’erre Bourne is one of the more distinguished producers behind the SoundCloud vanguard—Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Trippie Redd, Lil Yachty—but moments meant to be his two biggest breaks never quite panned out: a placement on a Drake album that has yet to materialize and a ghost credit on the worst Kanye West album to date.

Since “Magnolia,” Pi’erre has become one of the most interesting contemporary rap producers with his own signature sound, but he has yet to attain the sort of outsized influence of a Metro Boomin or Tay Keith in his run. He hasn’t worked closer with anyone during that span than he has with Nudy, producing huge chunks of the first two SlimeBall tapes and 2017’s Nudy Land. After only producing one song on Slimeball 3, the duo return as co-headliners on Sli’merre, their blockbuster, a collaboration near its apex.

After a sound engineering gig at Epic fell through for Pi’erre, Nudy was the first rapper to gravitate toward his beats, and they’ve developed a strong chemistry since. They were nearly in sync on Nudy Land, with Pi’erre turning Nudy’s villainous nightlife escapades into carnival attractions, but here they really find balance. On “Mister,” Nudy raps, “All my life, I’ve been a hustler/Dope boy, cap peeler, street young nigga,” and most of his raps are just him plainly living out those roles. There is plenty of robbing, even more shooting, and enough firearms to make a gun nut blush. It’s Nudy’s job is to simply to rob and shoot his way through Pi’erre’s wacky noise parade.

Like Playboi Carti, Nudy is a premium space filler. Neither will ever be considered great rappers but both have the capacity to perfectly integrate themselves. Where Carti is animated, Nudy is subdued, often carried leisurely forth by the current of Bourne’s productions. He is not as good at making his presence felt, but that comes with its own rewards: on songs like “Sunflower Seeds” and “Dispatch,” his voice retreats back into the belly of the beat and becomes a complementary instrument furthering Bourne’s palette.

Nudy, to his credit, has an ear for the weirdest, most pronounced Pi’erre Bourne beats. While the production on Die Lit is all minor variations of a similar form, Sli’merre is constantly mutating into something new and weird. And these are easily Bourne’s strangest and most thrilling designs. They can feel equal parts absurd and scintillating, like plugging a jailbroken Super Nintendo into a particle accelerator or rigging an augmented reality headset to convert the pixels of cartoon gifs into sounds.

Nudy is mostly just the guest at an amusement park of Bourne’s creation. Understanding where to fit in is a skill in itself, and he slips in and out of the openings with varying degrees of intensity, always matching the requisite force. His whiny Auto-Tune melodies deflate into the humming synth work on “Gas Station.” As slashing strings, piano stabs, and tremorous bass reconstitute around him on “Extendos,” he’s just shimmying through it. He seems to know he only has to do but so much. Nudy on his own is relatively ordinary and working in a limited space, but shuffling through Pi’erre Bourne beats transports him to a world unknown.

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