Set trippin’ with RXKNephew and DJ Rude One
On The FADER Interview, the unlikely rapper-producer duo talk beats, rhymes, B.B. belts, and their debut collaborative album, The ONEderful Nephew.
Set trippin’ with RXKNephew and DJ Rude One Left: RXKNephew, photo by Deawnne Buckmire. Right: DJ Rude One, photo by Cooper Fox.  

By now, we all know that RXKNephew emphatically does not give a fuck. A bona fide internet sensation, Neph’s irreverence toward religion, other popular rappers, and your feelings has been his calling card as he’s pumped out hundreds of songs on YouTube over the last few years.


In the too-often self-serious world of street rap, the Rochester, New York-bred MC has exhibited a humorous streak only matched by his trappin’, scammin,’ and rappin’ counterparts in Michigan. If you’re a real RX fan, though, you were drawn in by his comedy and antics but stayed for the skill. The “SlitherMan,” as he calls himself, is an elite shit talker but also a storyteller and punched-in punchline king who sprinkles philosophy and self-reflection into his street tales. He’s also adept at flowing on any type of beat, no matter the style or regional affiliation. He’s gone crazy on everything from ATL-style trap to uptempo electronica.

The one genre that seems anathema to Neph is what’s usually classified as “boom bap.” In 2021, he famously roasted a dusty beat by producer Clean Dirt while rapping on it — a feat not yet accomplished in hip-hop until that point, as far as we know. At that point, those of us with an appetite for underground, sample-based beats thought Neph had closed the door on the whole subgenre. We were mistaken.


Enter Chicago native and Brooklyn resident DJ Rude One. A stalwart of his home city’s underground scene as a solo act and one half of the duo Single Minded Pros, he’s produced gritty and texturally rich instrumentals for generations of subterranean MCs — from Wiki to the Griselda boys. His last LP, ONEderful, released in 2016, is a who’s who of the east coast underground’s finest, including Roc Marciano, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire. When Rude discovered Neph’s music through a mutual friend, he fell down the RXK rabbit hole and came back with an idea: Why not show folks a side of the rapper they haven’t seen before? The collaboration was proposed to Neph, and as luck would have it, the one thing he does give a fuck about — besides money and family — is being considered one of the best.

Just before the release of their joint project, The ONEderful Nephew, last Friday, I sat down with the rapper-producer duo to discuss their unlikely creative partnership, watching Inland Empire on acid, Neph’s self-taught recording style, and how he stays in peak physical form in spite of his notoriously prolific Hennessy consumption.

Set trippin’ with RXKNephew and DJ Rude One Courtesy of DJ Rude One

This Q&A is taken from the latest episode of The FADER Interview podcast. To hear this week’s show in full, and to access the podcast’s archive, click here.


The FADER: When I think of unlikely combinations, I think of RXKNephew and DJ Rude One. First off, just to set the table, how did this collaboration come about?

RXKNephew: Man, he tapped down with the right folks and got it to me. The beats is slappin’, good business, and we created history. I never even do shit like that. Them beats was specifically made for Neph. First boom-bap — I get to do my hip-hop thing.


Yeah, I don’t always associate you with boom-bap, Neph. I think the last time I heard you rap on something boom-bap related, you was roasting the shit. What spoke to you about the production this time around?

RXKNephew: When I did that Clean Dirt song, it was different for me. I wasn’t expecting that. But this one’s real different. I wanted to attack a different genre. These beats was really talking to me. I wish I could do them all over again, even though them shits hard. I always be trying to outdo myself, but them beats was telling a story. Them shits just hard, man, and I’m from New York — I gotta rap. I gotta show ’em I still know what I’m doing.

Rude, I want your take on Neph. How did you discover his music? What stood out about the way he rhymes and how he approaches shit? What made you say, “I got a pack for this guy. I wanna work with him.”


DJ Rude One: I got introduced to him in a backwards way. It was some hipster white kids playing the Lil Reese joint, and they were like, “Yo, this dude is sick!,” almost like Neph was a character. But I was like, “This dude is fucking killing, yo.” And then I heard the Lul Tim shit. It was a joke style, but I’m hearing somebody killing shit. Anyway, I was at the Turkish baths in the East Village with my man Meaty Ogre, and he’s like, ”Yo, you up on RXKNephew?” We started talking about him and how dope he was, and he’s like, “Yo, Alex manages him.” Alex is a homie from Chicago from way back.

Alex is always tweeting Neph stuff and I’m like, “Yo this dude’s an alien.” I mean that as a spitter; I’m like, “This dude is raw.” I made a beat one day, and I’m like, “I don’t hear anybody else over this.” I hit up Alex that day, like, “Can we work something out? Let me get a verse.” Neph sent this shit back in record time. I might’ve sent it to him at noon, and three hours later, I had 24, 32 bars of fucking craziness.

This shit was now the hardest verse on my album, so I hit Alex back for another one. He was like, “He’s with it, but what do you think about doing a whole project?” It’s really Alex’s brainchild. He wanted to hear boom-bap Neph: “He’s never done that type of shit. We’ve reached out to other people to do it, but they’ve never taken it serious.” I said, “Give me two weeks to come up with some stuff,” ’cause I wanted to send him some shit that was like what I’d heard of Neph.


RXKNephew: Them shits was hard as fuck, too.

“Music is a legal drug that everybody needs. You go through withdrawal without music. That’s why they give inmates radios, before they go crazy.”

The FADER: Neph, give me a picture of what your normal day is, because you’re hands down one of the most prolific artists out. You literally have thousands of songs. You’re constantly collaborating with people. How do you keep up the creativity to be able to do that?

RXKNephew: Every day is a new story. I’m rapping my story and funny shit, shit that’s happened to me. My everyday schedule is wake up, get fresh… The first thing I do when I wake up is record. I go to the liquor store, go to the mall, buy shit for the family, throw tomahawks on the grill. I really just be living life, bro. But when it comes to recording, I do it every day. I record in a car, a hotel, AirBnB. I got multiple speakers, multiple microphones. They’re set up in different places, different states, so I can keep working. This is my stress ball.

The FADER: Tell me what it was like to build that muscle, because not a lot of artists are that productive. How did you get into this rhythm of recording all the time?


RXKNephew: I think a lot of artists don’t really know how to record themselves. I felt like if I learned how to record myself, I could drop way more music. [Before] I took the time to learn that, I was just spittin’. I could record anywhere: In a Walmart parking lot… But to make money off of it is a different thing. That shit really booted me up.

The FADER: I think having that trapper mentality is part of why your name is ringing bells the way it does. Do you feel that you bring that hustle mentality to the music?

RXKNephew: Definitely. I looked at this whole music thing as the trap, and I was selling this music like crack. Music is a legal drug that everybody needs. You go through withdrawal without music. That’s why they give inmates radios, before they go crazy.


The FADER: You have this level of versatility that allows you to sound good on something that might be a straight trap beat, might be some boom-bap shit from Rude One. Coming from Rochester, what was your musical taste like? What were you listening to that influenced you, that gave you the ability to rap on anything?

RXKNephew: Fuckin’ with every genre, being raised by my grandma and having older people who all listened to older music way before my time, I got used to that. My mom’s a little bit younger, and she listened to younger people, Biggie and all that. I used to steal my grandma’s CDs and listen to that, and I felt like them people who were singing the blues — Tyrone Davis, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Taylor — they was really rappin’, just talking about what they was going through.

Once I discovered southern [rap], Gucci Mane and all of them, it became my favorite because they was just expressing how they felt, and it sounded like blues. It was Southern music, just a new kind of it. They would definitely embrace that too, cause I know if I had a conversation with Gucci, he’d say Tyrone Davis and Johnny Taylor was influences too.


Let’s talk about “F**k Yo’ Set.”


RXKNephew: I was just finishing up tour… handling my business, doing my job. I had to get crazy. Somebody tried to scream they set out and not let me be around, so it came to “fuck yo’ set.” I told him to his face fuck his set — “Fuck everybody you know.” And that’s how I feel, but instead of really acting on it, I put it in my music.

In a positive way.

RXKNephew: Yeah, ’cause I’m not gonna crash out and lose everything. That’s why I embrace it through music.


Rude, you’re in your own lane in terms of the types of production that you do, but tell me about being in the RXK zone and creating beats for him. What type of sounds are you looking for? What kind of colors? What kind of timbre?

DJ Rude One: It’s all over the place. I know we’re talking about this boom-bap umbrella, but I played around with some 808s on there, I did some “drumless” to capture that sound — just playing with Neph’s range. Like he said, he can get down to anything.

I don’t work like he does. Like you said, he’s dumb prolific. I’m not. I’m very pragmatic. You hear producers say, “I made 30, 40 beats this month.” I might make two, three in six months that I’m happy with. I gave them three initially, and he hit me right back with them, and I was like, “Oh shit, I need another week to come up with something.”


The first three he sent me back were “Black Ice,” “No More Dreaming,” and “Raw Dope.” They’re all very different, and that gave me freedom to run with it and not overanalyze everything. There were two other beats he recorded to that I ended up scrapping and remixing. I told Alex up front “I don’t like these beats enough. I gotta come harder.” I resent them to him, and one of ’em is “One Hundred & Thirty Three Times,” which is probably the hardest shit on there. That said, I have to say, my favorite joint we did is the very first one we did before this project that’ll be on my next album. It’s two verses of absolute murder — not even a real hook; he just says one line and then we jump back into it.


I think what stands out about your approach, Neph, is that effortless style.

RXKNephew: It took a minute to gain that confidence.

It’s funny because when I hear you on record, it sounds like you was born with it. Tell me about developing that confidence.


RXKNephew: I’m just believing in myself and loving myself. At first, I was worried about what other people would think. Once I stopped giving a fuck about that and gained that confidence, it was over. I could do anything, any kind of beat. You could ask me to rap whenever, however, in front of whoever. I’m always ready to rap.

I feel like the fact that you’ve been doing stuff so frequently also plays into that confidence. Would you say that’s true?

RXKNephew: I came too far to not go so hard. I have to give it my all. I can not slip up. Every time I gotta do it like my last. If you wanna be remembered, you have to go hard. If I didn’t go that hard, I wouldn’t’ve got noticed.


You have a style that irreverent, don’t-give-a-fuck style, but I can tell that you actually care about the artistry of it. Where did that come from?

RXKNephew: That come from being tuned into everything, and just being competitive. I can’t help it: I don’t want nobody to rap better than me. I don’t think nobody can rap better than me. I feel like I can out-rap everybody, but I really gotta show it, though. You really gotta learn rap and know what’s going on. And you got to listen to the GOATs, too.

Who’s some goats you fuck with?


RXKNephew: The goats is the goats. Everybody know, especially being from New York: Cassidy a GOAT, Fab a GOAT, Nas a GOAT, Biggie a GOAT, Busta a GOAT. Everybody that’s embracing the old hip-hop, too. Shout out to Buffalo — I see what they doing. I’ma show them I can do it better.


When we talked about what your days are like, one of the first things you said is you get fresh, and one of my favorite records on this project is “BB Belt.”

DJ Rude One: I had to Google it.

The reference is so specific. I feel like New York people know about that shit, and some people in Chicago might be up on that shit. But for those who don’t know, talk about the B.B. Simon belt — what it signifies, what inspired that song, and your relationship to B.B. belts.


RXKNephew: They’re shiny things that cost a lot. They match with the Robin Jeans. It’s like a culture, part of being from New York. Max B’s my favorite rapper of all time. He had one, [so I’ve] gotta have one. When he blew trial I cried, and I ain’t even know that man.

“Ain’t nobody giving us nothing — we making the money. You a boss, you gotta act like it.”

The FADER: You’re an agile person with acrobatic ability who drinks a lot of Hennessy. How?

RXK Nephew: That’s because I just started being able to drink Hennessy and live life like that. I ain’t tear my body down. I was in jail, incarcerated for a long time. My whole life, I ain’t have a chance to put all them toxins in my body. This is something new, so I still got it in me. I’m not too far gone. I don’t be too drunk to do a backflip, walk on my hands, do some crazy shit.

I just bought a new weight set; I’m about to pick my weight back up. They gonna accuse me of taking steroids ’cause they never know what’s under the shirt. Like Juandissimo, for real.


The FADER: I thought you’d put down the Hennessy for a bit too. I remember, you was like, “Nah, I be getting too faded. I’m done with this shit.” How long did that last?

RXK Nephew: I’m still at it. I can never go back to what I used to be. They never see the old Neph. This chapter’s a different life. I definitely can’t be intoxicated to where I’m going all night, blacking out at shows, wildin’ out, moshing, falling down. They ain’t gonna get that Neph no more.

The FADER: What made you turn the corner?


RXK Nephew: The business. I can’t be high and drunk while I’m still learning the business of everything that’s going down. We got something that’s good in front of us. There’s a lot of money coming, and we independent at that. Ain’t nobody giving us nothing — we making the money. You a boss, you gota act like it.

Set trippin’ with RXKNephew and DJ Rude One TK credit
“If you know about riding the A train late at night, it’s a whole other world, especially on acid, especially after seeing Inland Empire.”

You and Rude have that independent mentality in common. You’ve never tried to chase what other people are doing. Rude, I know you’ve got another solo project with a bunch of collaborators on the way. Why put this out now?

DJ Rude One: A: It’s so fucking good. When I set out to start this album, I didn’t realize what a big Neph fan I was. That took precedence over everything. This is actually the first project I’ve done in its entirety with one artist to actually see the light of day, and I’m super proud of it. I listen to it all the time. I listen to “F**k Yo’ Set” every day.


In what context? Are you in the gym, like, “Fuck yo’ set!”?

DJ Rude One: Nah, man, on the train home. I went and saw [David Lynch’s] Inland Empire the other night at the IFC, took a tab of acid, rode the A train home. If you know about riding the A train late at night, it’s a whole other world, especially on acid, especially after seeing Inland Empire. I got back to the crib at 3 a.m. I’ve got rooftop access, and I’m up there playing the album front to back seven times. I listen to Neph all the time now.

RXKNephew: That shit like a fuck the world track – not the world, just anybody who don’t like us.


DJ Rude One: Every song on there, man, I’m dumb proud of.

RXKNephew: I never thought I’d do something like that, but I never thought I’d do a lot of shit. My grandma always told me I could do it.

DJ Rude One: Seriously, thank you for letting me be a part of this.


RXKNephew: I appreciate it too.

Set trippin’ with RXKNephew and DJ Rude One