First Listen #27: Rico Nasty’s ‘Nasty’

Every time I think about Rico Nasty, I think of Blueface saying “Rico, Rico, Rico, Rico, ooh” before her turn during the XXL Freshman Cypher with her, him, and Cordae lol. Literally every time I see Rico, I chant her name in increasing volume to pay homage. Rico Nasty is one of those artists that I stan from afar, but I’ve never really engaged much with musically. For some reason, I’ve always been a little hesitant about listening to her music (idk why), but I’ve always really enjoyed her presence. She’s who I want to be when I grow up lol. Her style, her attitude, everything about her is just… *chef’s kiss* and her Vogue Beauty Secrets video gives me absolute life. I was thinking about her the other day, while I was working on my diy mosh pit playlist – you can find it and other playlists I made here ❤ – and decided that it was finally time to listen to her music. Starting with Nasty (2018).

Photo Credit:

2018: Nasty

(via Genius)

I think this is one of those projects that I’ll add to a list of projects that I like, but I probably won’t listen to again. I really wanted to like this project more than I did, and I was fully committed to saving it to my Spotify library and listening to it on repeat for the next 10 days, while my mouth continued to heal from my wisdom teeth extraction. It was not a bad project AT ALL, though. I think the thing that I liked the most about it – and the thing that I like the most in general about Rico – is that there’s not a softness to this project. Not that being soft is a bad thing – I’m the biggest softie in the world. BUT. I do think that often women – Black women and other women of color, in particular – are kind of forced into this need to perform conventional femininity (which includes softness) in order for their music to be taken seriously.

Black female artists need to make love songs; they have to talk about sex and passion. They need to talk about wanting attention from guys. It’s either that, or overt sexyness. And to exist outside of that is often taboo or aligns them closer to Black male artists (in a way that’s not meant as a compliment). Especially when it comes to showing “anger.” A lot of times Black women can feel like we have to try to exist completely devoid of anger and “aggression” because those words are how we’re categorized just off the strength of being Black women. So, sometimes attempts are made to be everything but angry and aggressive in order to place as much distance between ourselves and that anger as possible. Sometimes we decide to stay quiet or make ourselves sound and look as dainty as possible. And that’s not to say that Rico (and Black women in general) can’t be or don’t deserve to be soft or passionate or sexy. We should be able to exist in those ways ALONG WITH ways that aren’t as soft.

I’ve seen angels cry, I’ve seen demons dance

Baby take a picture, make the moment last

Weed residue all over my designer pants

That’s my old flow, you could have that

Rico Nasty, “LaLa

Nasty is raw, loud, edgy, and full of energy. The whole thing feels like having cut on your hand and then having lemon juice sprayed onto it. And I’m here for it (metaphorically lol)! And of course, just like I mentioned with FKA Twigs and the space that she’s able to exist in because of how she looks, Rico and the music she makes can be raw, loud, and edgy because she has a lighter complexion, is thin, and is conventionally attractive. Those physical characteristics CANNOT be ignored, when it comes to talking about the musical space that she exists in because those are the very things that allow her a little more leeway to exist like that. BUT, that doesn’t negate how powerful and empowering it is to see and hear her be so…COOL. I don’t know what I would have done if Rico’s music was out when I was in high school. I probably would have all kinds of Rico Nasty posters all over my room. Because she’s the type of person that I would have loved to be able to look up to at that age. A Black woman that exists so differently and fully. Ooh, I would have ran so MANY Rico stan accounts lol. And I think that’s why she’s still such a powerhouse to me; there’s still that part of me that lives on from my high school and middle school years that NEEDS to see what it looks like when Black folks (read: Black women and girls) are able to be different and be whole.

Ahem, as far as the project goes – it’s super solid! There are moments where the project doesn’t sting so much – I’m thinking about the project’s final track, for example. But from the moment we’re hit with the “bitch, I’m nasty” on the first song, we’re really being thrown around in mosh pits of various sizes for the whole 36 minutes. I love the production on Nasty; it saved the songs where I wasn’t feeling the lyrics as much. I think Rico’s “Kennyyy” is my new favorite Kenny Beats producer tag, and I NEED to hear it in more songs. I like them working together, and I think I’ll listen to Anger Management (2019) later on this week to hear what a full project from the two of them sounds like. There are only two features on Nasty, but I like them both. I love how GNAR matches Rico’s energy towards the end of his verse on “Transformer,” and I like Blockboy JB’s more laidback flow on “In the Air.” And then Rico’s flow and bars were mostly solid on every song; I love the braggadocious, “don’t fuck with me”-ness, and confidence that she brings through her words on this. And the cover for Nasty?????? RICO LOOKS SO GOOD!!!!! I think it’s one of my favorite project covers. It’s literally just a picture of her, but the sunglasses, the lip color, the fingerwaves, the baby hair, the NAILS, the rings, the FUR??? It’s giving me everything I’ve ever wanted and needed.

All in all, although I don’t see myself listening to the whole project again any time soon, Nasty was a good project overall and a good follow up to me listening to Juice WRLD’s Legends Never Die (2020) last week. These are really two great examples of how Black artists can and should exist outside of whatever people typically consider Black music to be. I’ll forever be here for the Black goth, emo, punk vibes!!

Overall Project Rating

Featured Image Credit:

(listen to Nasty on spotify by clicking the image below)

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