The stain left by the red dirt that's indigenous to the South -- called "red clay" by the locals -- is nearly impossible to remove. And that's how newcomer Que Bo Gold (aka Niqua Jones) describes his

The stain left by the red dirt that's indigenous to the South -- called "red clay" by the locals -- is nearly impossible to remove. And that's how newcomer Que Bo Gold (aka Niqua Jones) describes his music.

"I don't care how much you try to wash it out [of your clothing], you can't," says the Atlanta rapper who's signed to Yorktown, a production company with an imprint deal at Universal. "It's a permanent stain. I feel that way about my music. Once I put it on you, you're going to remember it. It's that different."

"Red Clay," Gold's debut, is due Sept. 25 via Universal. It's a unique set of 15 hip-hop tracks that rises far above the monotonous bounce of the South and the sameness of much of today's commercial hip-hop. The down and dirty title song features Kool Ace, Mellow Dramatic, and music veteran George Clinton, whom Gold met in a recording studio. Gold does a clever street version of the hand-clappin', knee-slappin' ditty "Hambone," called "Home Boy," and the Marvin Gaye-inspired "Shawty" is the prospective second single that could catapult Gold's regional efforts into national success.

The artist and his producers also utilized live instruments, including banjos, on such cuts as first single "Lil Buddy," released commercially today (Aug. 7). Integrating George Thorogood & the Destroyers' 1982 classic "Bad to the Bone," the single features Motown rap artist Rasheeda, producer/rapper Akon, and Gold's brother, Polo, of Noontime group Jim Crow. "I had to use live players to create the richness I feel is the Southern sound," says the rapper/entrepreneur, who was a star football player on a full athletic scholarship at Western Virginia State before an injury ended his career.

Another unique aspect of this album is the production input of Gold's 21-year-old sister, ReRe (aka Karesha Jones), whom he also manages. ReRe produced the tracks "Crank It Up," "I Thought You Knew," and "Sit Down Somewhere," on which she also delivers a rap assault.

"The thing about music coming out in the South is that it's very creative music, and 'Lil Buddy' is one of those types of songs," says Ramona De'Breaux, music director/midday host of WHTA Atlanta. "It's a song that people hear and instantly start mimicking. 'Lil Buddy' has become a catch phrase out here."

J. Jesses Smith directed the "Lil Buddy" video. The CD and vinyl singles contain snippets of other "Red Clay" songs and go to radio Aug. 14.

Gold launched his music career with the independent release of ReRe's "It Ain't No Thang" on indie label NuNeq Records about eight years ago. "We ended up shooting a video for it, and it was aired," he says, recalling that the record sold about 10,000 units and received airplay on WVEE Atlanta.

Gold later began marketing, promoting, and ghost-writing for artists on Get Paid, an independent label owned by his cousin King J, who manages and books Gold through a division of the Atlanta-based company. "My past relationships are really helping me as an artist now," Gold says. "I have no problem getting support from the DJs and other people."

Gold has been visiting radio stations and performing at clubs. He's slated to perform at the WLDA (Wild 96.7)-sponsored show Aug. 14 at Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta and Aug. 28 in Albany, Ga., for that city's annual Community Day celebration.