Why should the boys who dominate rambunctious SoundCloud Rap get to have all the fun? With this summer’s Nasty mixtape and the eponymous tour, Rico Nasty welcomed more women into sonic and physical spaces to rage.
The refreshingly compact Nasty holds 12 raucous anthems for spitting hard and thrashing to. Her live shows gained notoriety for attendees doing just that. At the end of the Nasty tour, Rico revealed that 24 of its 28 dates at venues like Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, Atlanta’s Center Stage, and the DMV’s Fillmore Silver Spring had sold out. Three of the shows were a part of festivals. “Don’t wear heels,” Nasty warned fans. “And don’t wear like anything that you really care about, like designer or anything, because you are in a mosh pit with guys.”
Even with songs titles like “Ice Cream” and “Oreo,” Nasty mostly abandons the perversely honeyed tracks of her two previous projects to build a darker world. Rico may brag about her hair and nails, but pretty isn't the purpose of Nasty. Rico plays the roles of the aspirant, the vixen, the stoner, the sage, and of course, the rockstar, but most of all, the threat. “Talkin' sh*t on Instagram, that pistol make you log off,” she raps on mixtape standout “Countin’ Up.”
Rico’s boisterous bars, dexterous and clean, melt into the speaker-knocking and guitar-laden production of Kenny Beats, Tay Keith, Lex Luger and more. "I like recording. I spend weeks at a time in studio sessions," she told VIBE this spring. Her dutifulness shows. Nasty boasts successful experimentation with the pacing and pockets of her flows, carefully curated sounds, and commitment to character, making it even more enjoyable than last year’s Sugar Trap 2. Sugar Trap 2 was fun. Nasty is righteous.
This year, Rico took her place as rap’s punk priestess, and we took notice. We listened to Nasty to conjure self-assuredness. We listened to Nasty to manifest energy. We listened to Nasty when we were sick of listening to the men of SoundCloud Rap dogging women.
As is rap tradition, she may do some of the same, but the reality of black womanhood isn’t liking every black woman on a personal level, anyway. And ultimately, Rico Nasty, and Nasty, the mixtape, likes us as a unit. “Black girls, stand up!” she exclaims to a beat-halt on the opening track. Nasty is for us. Black girls, stand up, indeed. —Mankaprr Conteh