Convenient though it may be, sometimes you have to give in and accept the metaphor. Gumbo, the engrossing fourth album from Atlanta’s Young Nudy, is what it says on its packaging: a collection of painstakingly crafted component parts (“Okra,” “Duck Meat,” “Shrimp,” “Portabella”) simmered together to become more than their mere sum, an alchemic blend of flavors and textures. And as with the titular dish, a mere recitation of ingredients would give an imitator little insight into how the real thing is made—the secret ingredients, of course, are proprietary. To shift to another culinary metaphor, there’s a use-every-part-of-the-animal ethos at play on Gumbo. Even the most mundane parts of the recording process become opportunities for innovation: Where many rappers use punch-ins to lay verses that are difficult to land in a single take, Nudy uses this technique to achieve a hallucinatory effect. See the opener “Brussel Sprout,” which comes to sound more like a lullaby than the opening salvo to a rap record with such punishing low ends. Rather than feeling stitched together, the takes overlap like blankets falling onto one another; the listener has to track whether Nudy in each subsequent layer is underlining what was said before, or subverting it. Produced in large part by Coupe (with an assist from Nudy’s longtime collaborator Pi’erre Bourne on the Key Glock-featuring “Pot Roast”), Gumbo is a heavy, percussive album, its punishing bass and yawning negative space giving the rapper ample room to deploy the most fluid flows of his career to this point. Nudy is a chameleonic rapper, able to dance through complicated patterns or communicate via monosyllables through sheer charisma. On Gumbo, those and other approaches are used in precise measures—as the recipe demands.

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