Bwog Daily Editor and unironic lover of SoundCloud rap Ruby Mustill presents a portrait of the artist as a Yung Nugget.
I love meme-y SoundCloud rap. Mostly because I like listening to it, but also because I’m fascinated by the not-quite-ironic, not-quite-sincere tone that’s taken hold of the internet, and which has become especially popular in high schools, on college campuses, and on TikTok. To learn more about it—and to cling desperately to my Youth—I spoke to Yung Nugget, the SoundCloud rapper responsible for songs like “She Took the Kids,” “Bruh Moment,” and “Lightning McQueen.” The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Bwog: What’s the story behind your decision to be a SoundCloud rapper? Were you influenced by anyone?
YN: Yeah, definitely Yung Gravy. I’d say that we would both be considered “meme rap,” but I don’t think he likes that term. He’s gone probably the most mainstream with that kind of style.
Bwog: Who was your rap originally meant for, and who did you think would be your audience?
YN: I realized that I had been interested in this specific subculture of meme rap for a while. I used to produce—well, I still produce—but I made beats for a lot of meme rappers. Anyway, I realized there was a subculture there. And the way I look at music in general—I don’t think I consciously recognized it at the time—but now I see that the key for any kind of success, musically, is identifying a subculture or a niche where you can insert yourself. I knew at the time that there are very few rap personas that I would be able to pull off. And so I was like, “This is something that I think I can do.” And I don’t know if I had all these thoughts at the time, but I do remember that I was like, “I really want to try making meme rap, because I think that would just be a fun thing to do.”
Bwog: So you identify with the term “meme rap.” You don’t have the same problem with it that Gravy does?
YN: I don’t think so at all, no. I mean, there’s a lot of people who get offended by it or think it takes away from their art, I guess. And I understand that. I definitely like other kinds of music, and I’m interested in making other kinds of music, but at the end of the day I’ve come to terms with what I create and the audience I’ve cultivated and what they want from me. But no, I’m not offended by that term at all, and I think that that term—and that subculture—is a really important part of why I succeeded. There’s actually a playlist on Spotify, called “Meme Rap 101,”—
Bwog: Yes, I’ve seen it!
YN: Is that how you found my music?
Bwog: It honestly might have been! Do you know who created it?
YN: I own the playlist, actually. That was one of the biggest keys to me succeeding, I think. What happened is there was a song by Yung Gravy called “Ice Cream Truck,” and it wasn’t on Spotify, and so I made a playlist called that name. It gained a bunch of followers. And then I created a playlist called “Meme Rap 101” and it just started blowing up, and as a result, because my music was in the playlist, it started [getting popular too]. So I would definitely say that the term “meme rap” is important for my—
Bwog: It’s been crucial to your popularity, kind of.
Bwog: You mentioned that identifying a subculture and owning it, I guess, is important to being successful. How do you think your music is unique within the subculture of meme rap?
YN: At the end of the day, the thing about meme rap is that since it’s inherently funny music, people think you don’t need to put effort into making it have any kind of quality. Which sometimes is true—I don’t know, I’m not gonna say my stuff is meticulously crafted, especially my earlier songs, even songs today—
Bwog: No, but I think your songs are really well-produced. And I’m always impressed by your flow, so I’m like, “No, he’s putting effort into this.”
YN: [Laughs] Thank you! Exactly. And you kind of have to walk that line with meme rap, like “Oh, are you listening to this ironically?” But I don’t really care at the end of the day. I couldn’t care less if someone’s like, “Oh, this sucks, but I listen to it as a joke.” I don’t care, you’re still streaming it. So that doesn’t really bother me. So I think what made me stand out was definitely putting care into the production. I was helped by the fact that I’d been producing, making beats for a couple years. Even having some level of production value, some level of flow—that makes you stand out.
Bwog: How much of Yung Nugget is you? How much of your personality comes through in your stage persona?
YN: I think it comes from one part of my personality, if that makes sense. I don’t know how much any artist is able to fully encompass their personality in their music. At the end of the day, you’re—this sounds cynical to say—but you’re just a product, I guess. I think that as I’ve gotten older, it’s become less representative of me. As I’ve matured, [Yung Nugget] has become less of my personality. But I’ve always been the kind of person who’s constantly cracking jokes, and being funny has always been something I’ve cared about. I’ve also always been into meme culture, or whatever. So that’s definitely a part of one side of my personality.
Bwog: Do you have any other favorite rappers besides Yung Gravy, or any other musicians in general that you really like?
YN: Yeah. As far as meme rappers, Gravy’s probably my favorite. But other than meme rap, I listen to a lot of modern trap; I like Lil Uzi Vert a lot. I like melodic rap, and then just general SoundCloud rap. I don’t think I’d be making music at all if I hadn’t started getting into SoundCloud rap when I was in early high school. When Lil Uzi and Lil Yachty and a lot of them were first coming up, I was into that pretty early on. The music I’ve become more interested in over the past couple of years is more like—this might be surprising to you, but indie music, or are you familiar with bedroom pop?
Bwog: Yes! I’ve listened to the Spotify playlist “Bedroom Pop,” but that’s all I know about it.
YN: Exactly. I like a lot of lo-fi, indie music. And that’s the kind of music I’d be interested in making, because I still feel like it’s something that’s true to myself and that I can pull off as a persona. It’s more of who I am, and it can be taken more seriously. But I wouldn’t make that music as Yung Nugget just because I already have the fanbase and name and persona that’s, like, so different from that.
Bwog: Do you plan on releasing indie-inspired stuff?
YN: Yeah, definitely. I’ve been working on it. I think my plan right now—I really haven’t talked about this with too many people—but my plan is to make a new persona, post some indie music, and then use the Yung Nugget page to promote it a little bit. But still keeping them very much separate, I guess. But I don’t plan on stopping making music as Yung Nugget. I hope that I’ll be able to keep doing both.
Bwog: Do you have an ideal path for your music career? Do you want to be a professional musician when you’re older?
YN: Ideally, yeah, that would be my dream. I don’t see myself making music as Yung Nugget in five or ten years. I don’t know—[laughs]—I don’t know if my fans reading that will be happy about it. But I don’t know…I can’t say right now where everything will end up.
Bwog: Is “Bruh Moment” your favorite song of yours?
YN: One of them. I want to do more stuff with melody, because I think that’s what I like about it. I like that it’s catchier. For a while, I would have said “Let’s Get This Bread” is my favorite one. And I still do like that one. It has lots of good flows and lots of random, funny lines that I think are good. Same with “Bob Ross,” off the new tape, I like that one a lot. I like Lightning McQueen, but now I listen back on it—and I can see why people like it—but there’s a lot of things that I would change about it if I made it today. I also don’t think there’s that many funny lines in that one compared to other songs.
Funny lines are something I put a lot of thought into. I just have a notepad in my computer of random lines I think of. Whenever I’m eating lunch, and I think of a line, I’ll write it down on that pad and try to incorporate it into a song. That’s definitely something I like about meme rap. You can say the most outlandish stuff and people will still like it. But I think there are some lines I have that are funny, but if a serious rapper used them, people would still like. I think a lot of the lines I use could also be used by serious rappers.
Bwog: Where do you get your song ideas from?
The one I’m going to release next is about—it’s honestly very similar to “Bruh Moment”—but it’s about me going to a party and trying to impress a girl. And basically, I think that I’m smoking weed, but it’s really crack. And then the whole song’s about me being high on crack. I got the idea from a friend—they didn’t actually smoke crack, but they accidentally smoked weed that wasn’t actually weed. It was kind of funny, but also a messed up story.
I try to use memes—or just pop culture—in my songs, because I think that helps them do better. I have “Bob Ross” as a song title, and “Princess Peach.” One thing that I wish I were more into, but I’m not, is anime. There’s so many anime songs—anime is, like, a part of meme rap—but I just never got into it, and I don’t want to be inauthentic.
Bwog: Is there anything you want people to know about you, or that I should have asked?
YN: I think that the people who follow me are also trying to make music themselves, or are interested in music. And I would say that anyone who’s interested in making music should give it a shot, whether it’s meme music or not. Just go for it.
images via @itsyungnugget on Instagram