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Album Review: Rico Nasty’s ‘Nasty’

On ‘Nasty’, every song is worthy of a mosh pit and getting your neck stepped on is just part of the experience.

Hazel Dequito

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Rico Nasty sheds her different personas on her sixth project, Nasty. The New York native, born Maria Kelly, delves into her dark and light sides through ranges of lyrics and beats reminiscent of metal, pop, punk, and hip hop. Rico Nasty usually presents herself through Tacobella, an emotional and vulnerable character presented through colorful wigs, fairylike makeup, and dreamy, whimsical clothing. On Nasty, Rico puts away Tacobella (but only for a moment) and shows us Trap Lavigne, an unapologetic and raging persona accompanied by spiky black hair with stylized baby hairs, platform boots, and loud clothing others are bound to stray away from. Nasty is exactly what it says it is: nasty. Full of angst, longing, and empowerment, Nasty is bound to make you feel bigger than life while you’re basking in your kitchen light in your pajamas on a Wednesday night. 

Nasty begins with “Bitch I’m Nasty,” an absolute banger. The first 15 seconds start soft and ease into a head-banging beat that may cause a slight bit of anxiety, but in a good way. The track may only be a minute and 30 seconds long, but it packs more of a punch than a usual three minute banger put out by your favorite male rapper. With lines like “Bitches wanna beef, get you burnt up, I am the best – bar none/Bitch I’m nasty, and I don’t give a fuck like, what is classy?” Rico definitely makes a statement in her opening song. She’s unashamed where some of us may shy away from revealing or admitting to about ourselves. In an industry that is male-dominated, and women are heavily objectified, Rico doesn’t shy away from being confrontational with her music.

Tacobella may be hidden, but she makes herself known through switch-ups in between beats of songs that are dominantly in the vibe of Trap Lavigne. The production of “Ice Cream” leans toward a Tacobella-esque sound, but the lack of vulnerability and sexually explicit lyrics prove otherwise. The switch between personas will pass you by if you don’t listen close enough and trust me, they’re worth listening out for. The beat-heavy production of the songs can be a distraction from persona switch ups in Rico’s lyrics, but that may just be Trap Lavigne trying to divert your attention. In “Trust Issues”, Rico’s third track, a sliver of Tacobella shines through: “If you got a problem with me, can you let me know?/I-I-I-I got a lotta issues, I try not to let ‘em show/I got trust issues, don’t nobody get too close.”

If you combines all the songs on Nasty to create the perfect one, “Hockey” would be that song. It’s the heart of the album with glimpses into Rico’s personal life over hard production that makes you dance around enough to shadow the depth of the lyrics. In an industry where women are constantly looked over, mocked, and dismissed for their work, Rico’s lyrics throughout “Hockey” let us know she’s fed up with the toxicity that comes with being a black woman in the music industry. 

As the album comes to a close, more of Tacobella shines through. “Won’t Change,” “Life Back,” and “Why Oh Why” garner a softer edge reminiscent of Rico’s past projects. The production is lighter, almost like floating on a cloud. Rico’s voice, signature for its scream singing and rapping, but keeping its tenderness, is comparable to no one else in the industry. She creates a specific raspy and gravelly tone that lets you know she hasn’t lost her character, despite being vulnerable. Rico is still that bitch.

Nasty may be Rico’s best project yet but she’s only getting started. Rico’s ability to juggle around sound and style is magical. Nasty is hard yet soft, confusing, but still satisfying. It’s the album where every song is mosh pit worthy and getting your neck stepped on during the show is just part of the experience. Rico Nasty is making her mark and dominating the rap world as we know it.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Hazel is in her second year of college at Drexel University, majoring in communications with a concentration in journalism. She has always loved writing but only recently decided to take up journalism. Hazel is also minoring in art history and enjoys painting in her free time.

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