"Timing is always everything," Rico Nasty says.
The Maryland rapper, who broke through in 2016 with the release of mixtapes, The Rico Story and Sugar Trap, admits that she is in no rush to release her debut album. Instead, she’s taking her time until she gets it just right. "I want everything to be perfect."
Her debut was supposed to drop this year, but Rico held off because of factors that she doesn’t explicitly divulge. So, to hold fans over, she dropped Anger Management, a joint project with Kenny Beats, along with a string of singles including "Fashion Week," "Time Flies," "Sandy," and "Roof."
Although she's still not ready to release a full-length project, Rico wants fans to know she has been working hard. Since confirming her forthcoming project, Nightmare Vacation, in September 2019, she has been recruiting guest features and developing her sound.
"Nightmare Vacation is a more evolved version of Sugar Trap," Rico reveals. "It’s playing on those super aggressive sounds along with these super melodic shapes. I don't want to say it's the same thing I've been doing, because they don't sound like the old melodic songs. It's different. There’s no rock. There are no rock cadences on it. It's a vibe. It makes you feel good, makes you feel happy."
In preparation for her appearance at ComplexCon Long Beach on November 3 (tickets are available here), Rico Nasty shared more details about Nightmare Vacation, talked about her recent experience with racism, and explained why she cares so much about what her fans think. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
Anger Management is all about processing and letting go of frustration and anger. How was creating this project therapeutic for you?
Creating the project was therapeutic because I got to exude my emotions in any way that I wanted. I feel like a lot of times when people focus on anger, they forget about what it takes to get you there. I don't know too many people that go zero to 100 as fast as I do when I get mad about something. So, finally making a project that shows that, it just made me way more aware of the process in which people piss you off. It's kind of like a cycle. It's up to you to break that shit. It's up to you to stop allowing people to piss you off, because it happens every day. I'm honestly shocked that so many people are still talking about Anger Management. I know it's because it's my most recent project, but it's a collab project. It's crazy. I'm happy everybody likes it.
You’ve been very intentional about what kind of projects you put out. Why did you decide to release an EP instead of a full-length album?
I dropped “Lala” and “Sandy,” and “Roof,” and I was recording for the album, but I was learning a lot about myself. Around that time, I guess it was February 2019, and I was literally fucking shaking. I wasn't ready. I didn't want to put out another mixtape. I was looking for the beats and draining all my energy when I knew that it was album mode coming up. I just found my comfort zone. That's really how that project came about: finding my comfort zone. Me and Kenny [Beats], it's like the sweet spot, creative-wise and vibe-wise. I always go in there and make music that I love. I just figured they're going crazy over “Sandy,” “Roof,” “Lala,” and all these songs that are produced by me and Kenny, so why don't we give them a project to love and enjoy? It's crazy, me and Kenny are both so busy now. I don't even think we would've been able to make that project if we didn't make it when we did.
People use the terms EP, mixtape, and album so loosely...
Really, they do! They're always like, "Is Nasty an album? Are these projects albums?" I always have to tell them no.
To confirm, you have not dropped your debut studio album?
Nope, I have not.
There’s no rock [on the new album]. There are no rock cadences on it. It's just straight. It's a vibe. It makes you feel good, and makes you feel happy.
That’s cool you're taking your time.
Yeah. I want everything to be perfect. Timing is always everything. My album was supposed to come this year, so this is just a really rough, rough year for me. If you're supposed to be making an album, that's supposed to be the best time of your life, but I feel like I was not in the time frame to focus. I'm happy that I've learned the difference between an album and a mixtape. Even though I don't have an album out, I feel like I know the difference and what it takes. Creatively, too, you have to do more. You have to be more vulnerable and take more criticism. It's a whole different process.
Is there an update on when we can expect Nightmare Vacation?
The only update is that fucking big features are hard as shit to do. I never really understood it. Some of my favorite songs have three people on it. Getting those people together, getting your schedules to connect correctly, clearing it, picking the right song to send, and all that shit, fuck—it's a lot. That's where I am right now, just playing the follow-up game with everybody. But we got our favorites. The ones that I really, really love. They're already done.
Can you tell us any names?
No. I'm not going to tell you any names. Maybe in a month.
Are there any themes or sounds that we can expect on the project?
I'll just break it down like this. Nightmare Vacation is your best and worst experience. In my case, it's music. Nightmare Vacation is also a more evolved version of Sugar Trap, because it's good and bad. Nightmare Vacation is playing on those super aggressive sounds, along with these super melodic shapes. I don't want to say it’s the same thing I've been doing, because they don't sound like the old melodic songs. It's different. Even the hard shit, there's no guitars. There’s no rock. There are no rock cadences on it. It's just straight. It's a vibe. It makes you feel good, and makes you feel happy. It gives you updates on what I'm going through in life. You ride around to the shit. It's taken me a lot to make a project that people can ride around to and not bash their heads into.
How would you describe your live performances?
Oh fuck, the best way [to describe them] is “unexplainable” because people always want to know how I get up there? I don't know. I don't have dance moves. I pretty much jump around and enjoy myself as much as I possibly can. Every time I find myself trying to do dance routines and shit, I find it's taking away the genuine, “What is she going to do next?”
It's taken me a lot to make a project that people can ride around to and not bash their heads into.
As a rapper, do people expect you to do choreography?
Of course! Look at the other women that are rapping right now. They always have dance moves. It fits them, though. It fits their music and their vibe. Imagine choreography to rage. That shit would look so Britney Spears. I love Britney Spears, but it's 2019. I don't think it could look right on me. But who knows? Maybe one day I'll pop out with the dance moves that fit me and we'll do a mosh pit. I like to do things that fit me. I'm not going to sit here and say everything I do is a ritual, but when I try to do shit that I see other people do, it's always so weird because it's just not me. It's not my vibe.
You released “Fashion Week” last month. On the song, you talked about high-end brands, but do you have any favorite streetwear brands?
I love School Apparel. I've been putting on for them for a while now. I love I.AM.GIA as well. And Jaded London is super hard. That's pretty much it. My stylist always comes out with the cool ass shit that I never heard of before. My favorite shoes right now, though, is this brand called R13. It's like the new Doc Martens. They're way more expressive, but they're hard as fuck.
You seem to have a really good circle of industry friends...
I have an industry circle?
I think so. I would say you have rap friends who are very supportive of one another.
Oh my God, tell me who my rap friends are.
Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion.
I always love Kanye because he says there's rich n***a racism. That's that, 'Come in, please buy more.' Then there's broke n***a racism. That's, 'Don't touch anything in the store.'
In the past, you've talked about fake friends and trust issues in your music. How do you navigate building strong relationships in the industry?
It's all about moving forward in life and realizing you can't expect everyone to love you. I know I'm amazing. My real friends know I'm amazing, but people in the industry, they don't really give a fuck, because they're amazing too. You have to tone it down a notch. Just keep in mind everybody's not your fucking friend. But you do meet people who are undeniably genuine. You always have to look out for people that are undeniably nice. They bring good vibes to the table and they’re themselves. What I've learned is a motherfucker could be really tight and like, "Oh, we besties," and be a bad person deep down. You start seeing little shit about them. They hate on other people all the time. The friends that you named, we've hung out so many times. I feel like we've never brought up other girls. We're living in the moment. We're young, rich, black women. It's not too many of us out here. This shit is lit.
What was your favorite thing about performing at PornHub Awards?
My favorite thing about performing at PornHub was just performing. It's such an honor to be able to say that I did that, because it's fucking PornHub. I would have never thought that they'd be paying attention to the shit I'm doing. I think my favorite part, aside from being at PornHub, is being on the carpet with fellow porn stars. Well, I don't want to say "fellow," because I'm not a porn star—not that you guys know of—but other porn stars are just like, "Oh my God, I love you! You bring me so much confidence." I don't think porn stars ever get the credit for what they do. It takes so much confidence every day, and so much not giving a fuck about what people think. To know that I inspire those women, that's something that I never would have thought I would be able to do. I don't think my music is super promiscuous, but it's good to know that those girls don't necessarily look for that in music. They're looking for something to make them feel confident and that shit is fire. I be trying on new moves from them. Come to find out, they learned shit from me. It's crazy!
Would you like to talk about the racist incident that happened earlier this week?
Yeah, I do want to talk about that. It was one of those nights where we were at a dispensary. There was no parking. We went to dinner and parked somewhere where we weren't supposed to park, but we were well aware of that. Homie parked the car there. We was like, "We're not going to be here long because we ain't supposed to park here." We get out to the car and are trying to get out of the space, because the parking space was tight. This guy comes out his house and he's like, "You people!" He was just being really fucking disrespectful. I'm with three other people, and everybody was brushing him off. It threw me off because the guy who was outside of the car was like, "I don't want no problems."
I heard him clear as day say, "We don’t want no problems." Out of nowhere, he’s like, "Are you trying to threaten me?" Getting all up in his face. In that moment, I felt like getting out of the car. I felt like escalating the situation. Shit, I even felt like telling my man to run the nigga over with the car. But then I start thinking how fucked up that shit is, because nine times out of 10, the police get called on us, not knowing what happened, and not knowing that he's the one disrespecting us. And all this over a parking spot. That shit really made me want to cry, because anytime black people try to stick up for themselves, that shit always escalates and fucks up their lives. They're either in police custody and they don't give a fuck about you, or they do whatever they want to hurt you or have you get shot. It fucks with your head. My day-to-day life is I get money, I go into Gucci and they love me. The spectrums have changed, at least in a bird's eye view. No, it's fucking not. I always love Kanye because he says there's rich nigga racism. That's that, "Come in, please buy more." Then there's broke nigga racism. That's, "Don't touch anything in the store." I've experienced both.
You see it on the internet all the time, but when that shit happens to you over a parking spot, it's one of them times when you really want to pull your phone out. What is wrong with you? Go home. Watch some porn.
Everyone's sharing their top rappers lists. Who are your top five of all time?
Well, fuck. I don't want to get in trouble for this. They're not going to be the best lyrical artists, but my favorite people to listen to are Tyler, the Creator, Young Thug, me, Doja Cat, Swizz Beatz.
What's one thing you want fans to know about you at this point in your career?
I want them to know that I still care about what they think. I know you're not supposed to tell people that, because it probably makes them feel like they have power over you. But I love my fans, and I want them to know that I still care about what they think. When I preview music, I still look for their comments and their approval for shit. I just want them to know I love them, and I'm always here. I have a lot of fans that message me and DM me. I always try to respond to them.
You’ll be ComplexCon this year. What are you most excited about for?
I'm most excited for the trip. I went last year and I had the flu. I was so fucking mad because it was so much cool shit. But when you have the flu, you can't walk. Your body is all weird. I was just sitting at the booth that had my merch, and I was trying to have the best day ever. I got a chain and I got some goodies. I found out about Places + Faces, which is crazy, because that's a brand that I've been wearing all year round. That's what I'm excited about, finding new brands. That shit is fire.
Our fourth annual ComplexCon in Long Beach takes place Nov. 2-3 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. For more info and tickets, click here.