Rico Nasty is the most exciting rapper in the game right now. The punk rap princess has transcended idiosyncrasy; she is truly a one-of-one artist in an intensely self referential industry. Enough has been written about her style and her genre bending sound, I don’t need cover that. The most interesting part of her impossibly fascinating career is how well she has positioned herself at this transition point in rap history. Her instrumental style is just trappy enough to be radio ready, but her vocal delivery, nuanced flows and versatile catalogue of content never allows Rico to stagnate. With (the allegedly white) Kenny Beats at her side, Rico Nasty is shaping post-trap in her own image, and their latest project Anger Management is crystal clear. Rico Nasty is rap’s present and future, in real time.
Anger Management is the blueprint for rap going into the 2020s. The nine track, 19 minute long “album” wastes no time and cuts no corners. It is Rico Nasty at her most essential, and the clarity of her vision is startling because she is constantly, rapidly evolving as an artist. Even track-to-track, Rico sheds layers upon layers of the artist she just was. She is only focused on being the artist she will be. The ever experimental Kenny Beats maintains a cohesive sonic theme throughout the project, peppered with his signature 808s and inventive samples, but each track introduces an entirely new and infectiously original idea while still flowing seamlessly. Rico matches the cutting edge vibe of the sonics by switching up her deliveries and register again and again. Nothing ever sounds out of place. The album is often reminiscent of Jay Z’s landmark Black Album, from the ingenious Dirt Off Your Shoulder flip on Hatin’ to the somber, percussive funeral march on Relative that would fit comfortably along Allure or even as far back as Dead Presidents II. It is the timeless quality of Rico and Kenny’s futurism that sets it aside from the likes of Lil Uzi Vert or even Danny Brown, contemporaries that successfully explore the blending of punk and rap. The robotic voices that serve as interludes harken back to OutKast. The breathless sing-song raps carry notes of Young Thug. In creating the future of the genre, Rico goes crate-digging through hip-hop’s past innovations to make the next.
And still with all of its careful reverence of trailblazers past and present, Rico’s vision of the frontier is clear. The album is all substance and pulls no punches. It is Rico displaying the entirety of her impressive range, comfortable on the most alien of instrumentals and along side unexpected collaborators. Rico and Earthgang sound made for one another on the mammary celebration Big Titties, yet she’s right at home in black Air Force Ones menacing alongside Splurge on the grimy Mood. She’s a shapeshifter, impossible to reduce to any limit women rappers are often confined to. Her ear for the future is unrivaled and her ceiling is non existent. Perhaps there is a glass one above her, but it ain’t got shit on that slapping 808 and trademark piercing Kennnnnyyyyy shriek. We already knew Rico Nasty was here to stay. Who would’ve thought she would be the one deciding what is allowed to stay around her.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: ALL