Photo: Mario Kristian
Rico Nasty On Being Fearless & The Importance Of Highlighting Black Women's Emotions
If you know Rico Nasty, then you know her through EPs Tales Of Tacobella, Sugar Trap 2, Nasty and her latest, Anger Management, as well as singles like "Smack A Bitch." But that's only the beginning.
Rico Nasty is an experience best felt live. The Maryland rapper had the crowd hyped, rapping and moshing along to her lyrics at Pitchfork Fest in Chicago through a set that showcased her sharp lyricism and hip-hop, punk-inspired music.
The emerging rapper is here to make it, and while she recently released Anger Management, she's been working on her fulll-length debut set to drop before the year is over.
The Recording Academy met up with the Maryland-based rapper after her Pitchfork set, where she opened up about growing up in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia), what we can expect on her forthcoming full-length, navigating industry double standards and more.
How did you get your start in music?
By going to the studio, randomly. I don't know, whenever someone was like, "Yeah, I'm going to the studio," I just went with them. And I started recording. When I was in high school, I was like the only girl making music. And so people heard my mixtape, it was kind of like, "Oh sh*t," like, "What the f**k." It was just new, it was refreshing. So they f***ed with it. So then I just kept dropping music, try to stay consistent. I eventually like stopped dropping music when I graduated high school and now I'm here. After I graduated I just wanted to... I don't know. I always had melodies and sh*t in my head. I never wanted to stop making music.
Did you grow up around a lot of music?
My dad made music, but he was in jail, and I guess, yeah, the group of people I was hanging around with, they were making music. But when I stopped hanging out with them, it was still something.
You recently released your Anger Management EP with Kenny Beats. What was the inspiration behind that?
Well, Kenny's a crazy producer, and I had anger issues, so, I felt like it just came together off of the other sh*t that we've already done.
How was it working with Kenny?
It was cool, I mean we was in the studio day-in day-out everyday, one after the other. So it's cool. You really get to know a person. You really get to annoy a person, I was annoying the f**k out of him, I'm sure. He was annoying me but it was like in a good way, like, we were pushing each other because we wanted to make something, something different from anything else I had ever made. And that's what it is.
Speaking of anger issues. Pitchfork recently ran a feature about you and the importance of black women's anger in rap. How did that sit with you?
Well, I definitely agree and I think that it's really important to bring light to black women's emotions in general, whether it's anger or anything that's out of the ordinary. Because I feel like it's looked down on when we show any type of emotion, it's always looked like doing too much, being ratchet, or in some cases you're not even doing too much. Some cases you're acting white, you're acting this, you know like sh*t is, it's really f**ked up out here.
But to be a leader that means that I don't give a f**k about that stuff, and when I see my fans, we don't give a f**k about the stuff and you just keep that positivity going. Also while not giving a f**k, also while like, allowing them to get their sh*t off in a respectful way. You come to a show, you f**king mosh, you throw elbows, and then you go home and it's like you're hitting your boss in the mosh pit almost. You gotta let loose eventually. I mean, black women, all women, all people for real. But, I'm really happy that people look at me like a leader of that sh*t because it's super important to me. And I love it. Like today when I saw the mosh pit when it first started and it's just so many girls jumping in it like, fearless. Fearlessness.
People ask me all the time how the f**k do I do it. Fearlessness, bro. Just like how y'all never jump in mosh pits before. Y'all been to so many concerts, and you jumped in one today, for me. I love it, it's amazing, inspirational!
You've been really open about your growth as an artist. How do you feel you've grown in this latest EP?
I feel like I just didn't hold back. I wasn't afraid of looking for a hit, I wasn't afraid of looking for anything. I just wanted to go. But I'm ready for the next music I have coming out, I feel like you guys are going to like it.
How has it been for you, representing the state of Maryland in hip-hop?
It feels amazing. And because I'm from the DMV [D.C., Maryland, Virginia] I want to shout out some female rappers from the DMV: Chelly the MC, there's this girl I think her name is Pretty Savage, she's from Virginia. They are really f**king fire. I'm not the only girl coming out of the DMV right now. Shout out to Lundy, rest in peace Lundy.
It's a lot of women that was before me, it's a lot of women that's gonna come after me! Like, don't doubt that sh*t. The DMV got some heat! Shout out to the Guy, shout out to the young guys, shout out to Young Man, shout out to ZanMan, shout out to Cutiful, everybody putting on Free Big Flock.
We're gonna keep this sh*t f**king going. I'm really happy to be a part of us wild-n-out! We're getting our credit, you know?
You were in this year's XXL Freshman Class, how does it feel being a part of that group?
Once again, it's like history. Legendary sh*t, because three girls on it. That's how I feel about it. Love, bro, I love it. It's never-before-seen, just like everything else that we doing.
Do you feel like you have any challenges as an emerging artist right now?
Oh yeah, I mean I hate the f**king— I don't want to say I hate men giving their opinion on it, but it's just like... if you don't listen to it, you don't listen to it. If you don't get it, you don't get it. Just like how, know what I'm saying, you guys rap about the same sh*t all the time, over and over. [It] should be okay for women to rap about whatever the f**k they want. Whatever they have, whatever they're working to get, it shouldn't f**king matter. If it crank, how it crank when you listen to a new song, then it crank.
Like, stop trying to pick apart our f**king music word for word. It's like, you guys don't do that with the guys. And I hate that they do that sh*t with us. It's like every lyric f**king counts. Just have a good time, bro. Just have a good time. Respect it. We are artists, whether or not we want to show our ass—it doesn't fucking matter, like, that's what we do.
And just like I empower women to go the f**k crazy, there's other female artists that empower women in ways that, you know, what if you don't feel sexy? You put a female artist on and she makes you feel that! That's empowering in a way that men will never understand because they're not us. So stop picking apart our f**king music! Just vibe to it, nigga. It's lit.
So your album is due later out this year. How has that process been making it?
It's been good. I'm getting pieces from my whole experience of music, I'm getting pieces from when I first started. Just ideas from all over the place. Ideas that I might have put in the corner and you know, might change a couple of things, but I'm really f**king excited. I'm really excited for my fans to hear it because once again it's not what you guys expect, and it's a step forward, in my opinion.
You've also teased U.S. tour dates, when can we expect those to drop?
You guys can expect them to drop later in the year. Not like, super late, but like later in the year. And I can't wait to see you guys. I miss you guys so much. Like, I miss you guys, you guys coming to my shows and bringing me gifts and bringing me flowers and telling me stories and I'm so excited to see fans that I've like already seen. Because, trust me, I be f**king remembering y'all. Don't get mad if I don't remember you, but like I remember certain fans. And I'm excited to see them because, you know, they're going to be like growing up and sh*t. It's kind of weird, it's just being a part of them. Being a part of their journey in life because they cut me on and still coming to the shows. I'm excited.
Before we sign off, what can you tell me about your new clothing line?
The Rico Nasty sh*t. It's about to be super fine. I've been taking my time on it. I've been looking for a cool-ass design that I feel like is versatile for both genders and just versatile as f**k. Something that can go on all colors. I'm not going to say too much because I'm still going through designs. But this is merch but times three. This is the real deal, this is not a drill. Save your coins. [Laughs.]