Rico Nasty seems so sure of herself. To be able to pull off mohawks, modern goth outfits, and insane makeup looks, self-doubt doesn't seem like an option, right? You’d have not the slightest clue that the rapper was actually trembling with fear almost every time she's about to stomp around the stage in her chunky platform combat boots.
“I actually feel like that’s why the shows are so good,” says Rico. “It’s a fucking visual representation of someone conquering their fear.” As the crowd clings onto her every word, screaming back each lyric at the top of their lungs, Rico’s fright melts away. The fanbase she has built brick by brick will always have her back and make her feel at home, no matter what stage she’s on.
The DMV rager listens to what her fans want, which is exactly how her most recent project, Anger Management—a collaborative mixtape with producer Kenny Beats—came about. "People saw all our new music together recently and said, ‘Hey, you guys should do a project together,’" Rico says. "So we did." The duo locked themselves in a studio and crafted the project in just five days, which Rico says helped her be more impulsive than usual and “not be afraid to talk your shit, even if talking your shit is on some positive shit.”
After basking in her 2018 breakout moment with her project Nasty, Rico is still riding her momentum into this year. As the limelight shines brighter and brighter on Rico each day, she finds her workload multiplying at an exponential rate. Whether it’s putting on a wild performance at Coachella or shooting multiple visuals each week, the hard work leads to a busier schedule that keeps her away from what she loves most: family. While dealing with the pressures of touring and keeping fans satisfied, the young mom also is learning to navigate and cope with the guilt of not being home as much as she’d like to. “I was kind of concerned, and when I would leave, I would feel like I’m not doing my job as a mom because he’s not talking,” she says.
Still, she always finds a way for everything. As a star-in-the-making, Rico is successfully figuring it out day by day, just like she always has been able to.
What has been the initial reaction from your fans to Anger Management?
I think they liked it. Anger Management was more of something me and Kenny needed to get out. People saw all our new music together recently and said, “Hey, you guys should do a project together.” So, we did. But my fans know we got some crazy shit coming. We’re always keeping it moving. Whenever I drop a project, they’re always like, “Where are the visuals!?” I just got the visuals done so they should be coming soon. And for the fans who were like, “This project isn’t for me,” it’s okay because Rico Nasty is all about evolution. I just wanted to know you guys were good on this me and Kenny shit. This is the homie and why the fuck not do a collab tape with a producer? That’s fun.
You’re known for taking your time to execute every little detail very thoughtfully, all the way from your production down to your hair and makeup for each show. Kenny Beats revealed Anger Management was crafted in just five short days. How did the creative process differ on this one considering the short span it was made in?
Well it was really fun to be locked in the studio for a week. A lot of times, I'm super busy and I might really like a tone of my voice, and then two weeks later, I come back and the tone is different because the air is different, studio is different, the vibe is different, the engineer is different. So it was really cool working with Kenny, working with the same engineer, the same producer, the same vibe, and going to the same studio. I feel like a lot of artists may regularly have that, but I don't really have that because I'm always traveling a lot and doing a lot of shows.
Don't be afraid to talk your sh*t, even if talking your sh*t is on some positive sh*t. Say it how you feel, man, because a lot of people don't say it. They just say what’s cool.
Another thing was being able to go home and not necessarily let the song marinate too much to the point where you’re like, “Oh no! Wait, I gotta just…” No. You just go. And keep going. Where do you wanna go? Where is your head at? Super impulsive. Super emotional. Just get that shit out! Just go. When I wouldn’t know what to talk about today, we would just sit and listen to beats and talk about old music and old videos and cool stuff that might have inspired us, then just go. I think that’s really why we called it Anger Management because it taught me don't be afraid to talk your shit, even if talking your shit is on some positive shit. Say it how you feel, man, because a lot of people don't say it. They just say what’s cool. So that's what that project is.
As someone who isn’t an overnight success and has been releasing music since 2014, what would you say has been the biggest thing you learned about yourself as the spotlight on you becomes stronger?
I'm a little bit scared of everything. It’s kind of funny. Whenever people ask me how I’m feeling, I’m like, “I don’t know. I’m scared. I’m nervous.” [Laughs] I just can't really believe all of this is fucking happening. It's fucking crazy, like, come on guys. What do you want me to say?
It’s crazy, but it is exciting that people are catching on. It is exciting watching everything grow. I learned that I’m a little bit bossy, too. But it’s a good type of bossy, not a bitchy type of bossy.
I think a lot of people would agree with me when I say it’s surprising to learn you still get scared before shows. You really seem super confident up there.
I actually feel like that’s why the shows are so good. It’s a fucking visual representation of someone conquering their fear. I’m in front of a lot of people—like Coachella was a lot—but you know what? You fucking get over it. When the show is done, people come up to you and tell you it was fucking good, but they can’t see what you go through in your head. Honestly, the biggest thing I want people understand is that a lot of times shit is all in your head. It's all you. It's all in how you how you gotta be. You gotta be very positive. It helps. It really does.
You’re a very family-oriented person, and have also spoken about the guilt that comes with being away from home so much as your workload increases. What are some new ways you’ve learned to cope and manage this?
It’s gotten a lot easier actually because my son comes with me places more now. I’m working it out. I’m trying to not be afraid of taking him everywhere with me as far as out-of-state goes. He’s getting bigger so he’s getting a bit easier to work with. He’s also getting smarter so he tells me what he wants. The biggest thing for me as a mom—and this is something I don’t really talk about—my son was like, not talking. It wasn’t a crazy type of not talking, but for a while he just wasn’t talking while everyone else started talking. I was kind of concerned, and when I would leave, I would feel like I’m not doing my job as a mom because he’s not talking.
Honestly, the biggest thing I want people understand is that a lot of times sh*t is all in your head. It's all you. You gotta be very positive. It helps. It really does.
Then, my mom suggested I talk to him on FaceTime every night and it’ll help. A lot of times, you don’t know if shit like that will help, but then he started talking. He started talking from our conversations, watching videos, stuff like that. Now, he’s full on talking. He’s like, “Mommy, I want to leave” and “Mommy, I want this toy” or “Mommy, please get your arm off me.”
It’s just amazing being a parent, being a little nervous at first, but then everything falls into place naturally. Then, shit might go left again and he might get a cold or something, I don’t know. I love every moment of it. He’s like my best friend now.
Moms worry about every little thing, so I can’t imagine how hard it was for you to notice he wasn’t talking as much, and you had to go out on the road on top of that.
Even when I was worrying, my mom was like, “Girl. He’s talking gradually.” And I was like, “He’s saying words, but I need sentences.” We’re going to the daycare, and these babies are doing whole sentences. I’m like, “Why’s my baby not doing sentences?” It’s also because I know my son is very smart. But now that he’s talking, I see him coming into his personality even more and I’ve learned he’s very likeable and he’s very shy. He talks when he wants to but I catch him being really shy around people and it’s cute.
You’re heading overseas on tour. Are you excited to feel the energy from a different crowd?
I’m super, super excited. I went there last year and the show sold out. This year, I’m back and the show sold out. I’m really excited to see London. It’s like a festival tour a little bit but all of the shows that are my shows are sold out. I know they know how to mob and rage out there.
Time is literally flying past and all I can think about is the end goal. All I can think about is the end, and making sure everything is super lit when people look back.
How would you say your skills as a performer have improved as your shows keep getting like bigger and bigger?
It’s all about trial and error. It's all about design. I want to bring more structure into my shows sometimes but honestly, people have told me they like the randomness and how crazy it gets.
2018 was a breakout year for you. One of my favorite lines is “Keep grinding, your life can change in one year.” Take me back to exactly one year ago around this time and set the scene up. What was going on?
I had the FADER cover. I was in the process of dropping Nasty. A little bit before that, I had announced that I was signed. I was going through all that and adjusting to all that. A lot was going on. This time last year, I got my mom a house, so that was really major. I remember summer was lit because of all the cookouts there.
And how does it feel to be looking back from where you’re standing now?
I’m still basking in it. Even when you ask me that, it doesn’t even feel like it was a year ago. Like I said earlier, I just can’t believe all of this is fucking happening. Everything is moving so fast. Time is literally flying past and all I can think about is the end goal. All I can think about is the end, and making sure everything is super lit when people look back. They’re gonna say about everything from the beginning, “Damn, this girl was going crazy.”