The evolution of Rico Nasty in ten songs
Female rappers are having a moment. After years of being overlooked and pushed to the side, they’re finally getting the recognition and respect they deserve from the hip-hop community. The past couple of years has seen the charts dominated by female spitters such as Cardi B, Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion while rising wordsmiths like Ms Banks, City Girls, Young M.A. and Saweetie have all been causing a stir. Of the new breed making an impact, few have been as hyped as Rico Nasty. The Maryland rapper and producer known for her aggressive flow and genre-blending beats has steadily been accumulating a back catalogue of monster hits and impressive collaborations over the past four years.
On December 4th, Rico Nasty releases her much anticipated debut album Nightmare Vacation. Containing the singles ‘IPHONE,’ ‘Own It,’ ‘Don’t Like Me’ and ‘OHFR?,’ the album is a tour de force of hard-hitting beats and Nasty‘s spirited lyrical flow that will leave you floored. To get you hyped for the release, we’ve delved into Nasty’s extensive back catalogue of mixtapes and singles to bring you her story in 10 awesome songs.
One of Nasty’s earlier releases, ‘Hey Arnold’ has more in common with the playful Soundcloud rap of Lil Yachty (who pops up on the remix) than the assertive tones of her most recent work. This is certainly a more innocent and chill version of Nasty, long before finding her “no fucks” attitude displayed on later releases.
‘Smack A Bitch’
With over 62 million streams on Spotify, it’s fair to say ‘Smack A Bitch’ is a favourite amongst fans. Produced by regular collaborator Kenny Beats, Nasty claps back at the haters while also sending thinly veiled shots at Asian Doll, a rapper Nasty got into a physical altercation with shortly before dropping this track. This one is pure fire.
This is Rico Nasty at her braggadocios best. Spitting bars about her wealth and the “diamonds in her dental,” Nasty destroys another Kenny Beats production with her colourful wordplay. The purple-hued film clip of Nasty strutting around Las Vegas is a trip and quite entertaining.
Enlisting the services of Baauer and EarthGang, Nasty outshines her contemporaries on this sexually charged banger. While Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot boast about their bedroom prowess, Nasty proves there’s no other woman as fuckable as her over Baauer’s minimal beat, going on to warn her female fans not to give up the goods to any regular Joe.
Roof is a futuristic slice of space rap with an LSD-inspired music video to match. Nasty’s raspy voice goes in over the trap-infused beat as she once again asserts her authority as one bad bitch, a common theme throughout her career.
Merging screamo with hip-hop, ‘Rage’ is a torrent of hard-hitting trap beats and Nasty’s fierce raps. Fuelled by Nasty’s gritty vocals, Rage is a warning to anyone who tries to bite her style, with the Maryland born spitter telling the haters to “keep my name out your fucking mouth” while reminding everyone she plays by her own rules.
‘Aqui Yo Mando’
I have to admit to not understanding the majority of this song (it’s mainly sung in Spanish), but boy it’s sexy as hell. The Internet tells me ‘Aqui Yo Mando’ is about sex, which makes sense when you watch the music video. Kali Uchis glides over the slick beat while Nasty’s Spanglish verse finds her ditching her usual harsh raps for a more singsong cadence that suits the track and shows another side to her creativity as an artist.
Taking its name from the characters Tia and Tamera Mowry from 90s sitcom Sister, Sister, this celebrity referencing single is the dynamic first team-up of Dojo Cat and Rico Nasty. Featuring a 90s themed film clip and Nasty in confrontational form, ‘Tia Tamera’ is vibrant rap track from two rising stars.
Futuristic pop duo 100 gecs roped in some big names for the remix of their hit ‘Ringtone.’ Along with featuring the dulcet tones of Charli XCX and sugary raps of Sarah Bonito, Rico Nasty comes through with auto-tuned bars shouting out her good buddy Alissa Ashley and discussing what it’s like being love struck.
My favourite single from Nasty’s debut album, ‘Own It’ is a booming slice of feminist rap with a catchy hook. Along with being a cracking song the film clip is one of Nasty’s best. Reminiscent of classic Missy Elliot music videos, the video features the rapper sporting a variety of vibrant and eclectic outfits demonstrating her multiple personalities and varying styles as an artist.
Nightmare Vacation is available now via all good streaming services.
Words by TOBIAS HANDKE
Image: Jason Carman