The sneaky, mesmerizing Lil Dude doesn’t play by your rules or anyone else’s for that matter. The 21-year-old rapper out of Maryland has become one of the scene’s most transfixing prospects thanks to his voice that never escapes a wistful rasp and his lyrically dense lines that remain as urbane as the Pink Panther. He keeps good company; rolling with the off-kilter Goonew, Slimesito, a whispering rapper with an ever-present menacing shtick that hovers just beneath the surface of his rhymes, and the baritone-voiced K $upreme.

If you haven’t heard about Lil Dude, you’ve been under a rock. You will soon enough, thanks to recent collaborations with Wale (“Diablo”), Jay Critch (“Make It Count”), and Hoodrich Pablo Juan (“Only Option”). In his own hypnotizing releases, he punches in and out like a rattlesnake, injecting a paralyzing agent that trickles down the spine as he slinks over the haunting production. He’s the real deal and he’s on the verge of making it to the next level.

He’s a mysterious figure that seldom conducts interviews, so finding out more about the way his brain ticks is a daunting task. That’s what makes this exclusive interview that much more important. We sat down with Lil Dude and shot the breeze with him, learning about his perspective on the music industry, his unique style of rap, and the concept of “rap actors.”

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Who is Lil Dude?
Lil Dude can be looked at as a few things. I’m a man. I’m a gangsta. I’m a son, brother, friend, rapper…I’m a real nigga first.

What’s the Maryland/DC rap scene like? Crabs-in-a-barrel or
supportive?
I don’t know what Maryland’s rap scene is like. I really don’t pay attention to other niggas that aren’t my niggas. It’s a lot of hate here. I just try to ignore it.

From SlimeSito to Goonew, to K $upreme, and even Hoodrich Pablo
Juan – your list of associates is littered with next-level talent. How do
you make connections like these so easily?
I’m a real nigga, so people relate to what I’m talking about and that opens the doors for connections. Not all of them are real though…

What’s your view of the industry so far? How much bullshit have you
had to deal with?
I think the industry is a big ass beauty pageant. Niggas ain’t real, they are just pretending for a crowd just to be judged by shit that ain’t got shit to do with why we are really here.

What does it take to earn Lil Dude’s respect?
Just be a real nigga. I don’t just give out respect. That’s something that has to be earned.

What’s your relationship like with Goonew? You guys can’t seem to
miss when you’re on the same track.
Goonew, that’s my bro. Even if I say fuck rap tomorrow, that’s still going to be bro. We really used to sleep on the floor together. I think the real bond we have shows on a track; that’s why we can’t miss.

What was the process like of having Wale record for “Diablo?” That’s
a huge look.

Shit, he was trying to collaborate. I sent the song to my man Wax and the rest was history.

Your rap style is so unique that it’s now being imitated. Is that
flattering or annoying? How’d you come up with such a unique style
when most out now are just copy and pasted?
I freestyle everything. I don’t write so my style can change at any point in time. Copying someone’s style doesn’t get you any respect.

At this stage in your career, what’s your stance on frequency of
releases? Are you selective or do you release as you record?
All I focus on is making music. I do drop music a lot, but nothing is stopping this train. I don’t drop as I record. I have a lot of music tucked away, but I make a lot of music still so a lot of music comes out.

What can we expect from your upcoming project?
Some new hits. It’ll be a great project. Outdoing Luciano 2.0 is going to be a challenge; everyone likes that tape. A lot of people said that it was my best, so we’ll see.

What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
Keep getting money, and staying out of these police ass niggas way.

Goonew’s catchphrase is “Hey Auntie,” Slimesito’s is “wipe your
nose,” and yours is “Trapnanana.” It seems that your squad has the
marketing game on lockdown. Do you guys actively think of
branding?
All the time. Money is always on our mind. Trapnanana merch is on the way.

What’s the wildest shit you’ve come across so far on the come-up in
the music scene? Something that kept you up at night.
Rap actors. Like rap actor niggas are really a thing. You fuck with people off of who you think they are until you’re shown that they aren’t who they say they are. The rap actor is not a myth. They out here, on God.

Who are you listening to right now in rap?
Double Back Gang and Homicide.

Keep up with Lil Dude on Twitter (@Lildudeluciano) and Instagram (lildudelucanio1).

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