Propelled by the chilling single “Who Want Smoke,” Jacksonville artist Nardo Wick has exploded into the spotlight over the past few weeks. First, it was a G Herbo cosign via Instagram Live that circulated the song last month, which parlayed into an immediate splash upon release. In the weeks following, “Who Want Smoke” has amassed over 2 million YouTube views, garnered cosigns from Lil Durk and Future, among others, and even landed Nardo a spot on the Judas and the Black Messiah movie soundtrack.
All in just over 30 days.
Needless to say, this meteoric rise has been for good reason, propelled by the dense, unforgettable nature of “Who Want Smoke” and Nardo’s knack for creating moments with his lyrics. From lines like “call me Nardo Yes Man, cuz’ I don’t no n****s,” to the infamous stomping which occurs at 1:16 in the video, the entire song is packed with ingenious one-liners, structured around high-octane production and chilling visuals to match. As such, “Who Want Smoke” has quickly outgrown the sum of its viral moments, introducing the world to a massively exciting newcomer with a sound entirely unique to his native Jacksonville.
We had the chance to conduct the rising star’s first interview, so be sure to read our full conversation with Nardo Wick below.
If there’s anyone primed to lead the way in 2021, it’s Jacksonville’s own.
LL: Nardo, how’s it going? The past few weeks seem like they’ve been crazy.
Fasho, I’ve just been chillin.
LL: To start, we should definitely talk about your success as of late, starting with “Who Want Smoke.” What exactly did the timeline look like with this recent burst of momentum? How and when did people really start getting in tune with your music?
Herbo got everyone listening to “Who Want Smoke” with that video he made, but what got people’s attention in the first place was the video of the girl in the ski mask on my Instagram. That got people paying attention, period, before “Who Want Smoke.” I gained like 10,000 Followers from that, and everyone started tapping in from there. I was going up a little after that video, and once I dropped “Who Want Smoke,” everyone woke up.
LL: How did “Who Want Smoke” get to G Herbo in the first place?
His little brother showed him my music – so he heard it, but he didn’t really think anything of it, at first. And then his big bro was playing it at the light, and [G Herbo] asked who it was, so he showed him at the studio the next day.
LL: That cosign was crazy because Herbo wasn’t just playing the song in the background, he was really singing along.
Yeah, he actually liked the song – genuinely.
LL: Lil Durk also tweeted about you, how did that happen?
I know that Durk probably knew who I was because his big brother showed him my music, but I ain’t know how I ended up on his playlist or anything.
LL: To take a step back, I heard “Who Want Smoke” and immediately thought you were from Chicago, especially with the G Herbo cosign. Turns out you’re from Jacksonville – I’d never heard your kind of sound come from that area.
From Florida, period.
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LL: 100%. How long have you been rapping for?
I started seriously rapping about a year and a half ago, but my first song didn’t release until 9 months ago.
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LL: What made you want to start rapping?
I’ve been rapping a little bit since I was like 14. I saw somebody with a lot of money, and they didn’t do nothing but rap, so I figured that was easy and I could do the same thing.
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LL: What does your recording process look like?
I just be punching in. My dad is my engineer and I record at my house. He learned how to engineer when I started rapping, just from YouTube.
LL: There are a number of lines from “Who Want Smoke” that we could talk about, but the most notable part is the stomping. How did that come together?
I was punching in and just put the mic to the floor and started stomping. I was freestyling. I made that song in November but I didn’t really like it at first. I also had to reshoot the video because there were too many guns in the first one, and that was going to stop me from promoting it the way I wanted to promote it.
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LL: Right after the song went crazy, you landed a spot on the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack. How did that come together?
The executive producer called me asking to make a song for a movie soundtrack. They said I had to make it that day, so I made it. I didn’t even know who else was on the soundtrack at first, and I didn’t know the movie was going to be big – I thought it was just gonna be a little Netflix movie. But once I saw everyone else that was on [the soundtrack], it made sense.
LL: Are there any artists, in particular, that have reached out that fans can expect you to work with?
I’m not gonna name names, but there are definitely some artists I’m going to work with. I just have to really mess with them to work, because I can’t do a song with everybody – it has to make sense. But every day I wake up and there are blue checks in my DM and my notifications are full, so I’m gonna be working with some other artists soon.
LL: Have people in Jacksonville been showing love out in public at all?
Yeah, it’s crazy. I be forgetting sometimes. Every time someone says something I just laugh.
LL: One thing I noticed is that outside of music, you don’t post much about yourself online. Is that by design?
Nah, I just don’t move like that. People have heard me rap but never heard me talk – I don’t be talking on [Instagram Live], I haven’t done any video interviews, nothing. I be chilling, I’m just that type of person – nonchalant.
LL: Being that you don’t reveal a lot on social media, are there any misconceptions that you’ve heard since “Who Want Smoke?
[Laughs] People be talking about “industry plant.” I don’t even know what that means.
LL: I feel like it’s a good thing! Are you surprised at the recent success at all, having only released your first song 9 months ago?
No, not really. It’s definitely cool, but I be hard on myself. I’m thankful, but I’m not satisfied yet.