On Friday night (May 18), Red Bull brought out a slew of gritty underground artists for its horror-themed night of hip-hop, Careful on the Pavement, as part of its Red Bull Music Festival. Bubbling rappers such as Chynna, Lil Wop and Rico Nasty put on gritty performances at New York City’s Cutting Room.
DJ Kenn entertained the eager (and heavily medicated) crowd before the evening’s first performer took the stage. As the clock moved past 10 p.m., rising D.C. rapper Rico Nasty stormed the venue to loud cheers. Donning her always animated clothing—a white tank top and black sweat pants with giant-sized looped earrings hanging off the side of the pants—the 21-year-old MC, who admitted to popping a Percocet before hopping on stage, engaged with concertgoers with her buzzing singles “Popping,” “Trust Issues” and “Key Lime OG.”
Despite gifting fans with an energetic set and engaging with fans, the “Hey Arnold” rapper said that she would rather be inside the studio creating music. “I like recording. I spend weeks at a time in studio sessions,” she said after leaving the stage. “With touring, so much is on my mind. Keeping up with sh*t. And on the road, I buy so much expensive sh*t.”
Nasty’s set was followed by bubbling underground MCs such as Lil Wop, Bali Baby, Asian Doll and others, whose bravado-and sex-filled rhymes connected to the street and drug-infused energy of the concert-goers.
However, the highlight of the night came from Philly rapper, Chynna, who kept her set gritty by running through hard-boiled singles such “Gleen Coco,” “Seasonal Depression” and “Practice.” Decked out in black-and-white camouflage pants and a black crop-top, Chynna announced to the crowd that she is three years opiate free, which was followed by loud cheers.
“I felt crazy. I didn’t want to be a statistic. I didn’t want to go out that way and people be like: ‘I told you so,” or glamorize it [drugs], because I don’t feel like that,” Chynna told us after catching a breather. “It was nerve-wracking to be open, but when you see how many more people who are dealing with the same thing, it’s good to have some kind of example of someone you didn’t expect to be going through it.”
Chynna also explained how having a support system was instrumental in her battling addiction. “It was hard,” she said. “I had to go away for a minute and I did detox, but it was a matter of having a really good support system of family and friends.”
Overall, Red Bull’s Careful on the Pavement was created as an underworld environment, which is great for fans who cater to riff-raff spaces, but Chynna’s announcement of her newfound drug-free life was a reminder that hip-hop’s underworld can mesh with the cool lames of the world.