Rico Nasty Battles Life’s Pitfalls With Creative Optimism
Welcome to the Sugar Trap, Rico Nasty's world of sublime rap and punk rock flair. The newly minted 2019 XXL Freshman has created a world where painting geometric designs on her face, donning a leather harness with a pair of spiky Crocs to complete the ’fit and decorating her hair with a sea of neon beads is the norm. And that's just the fashion element. Add in the most important factor, her frenzied, sanguine-laced rhymes, and she's a rap rock star ready to roll.
On her way up the hip-hop hierarchy, the Largo, Md. native had music on the brain from an early age. Rico, a self-described "weirdo" in school, started rapping in the 10th grade—right before she got expelled from high school for smoking weed. From poems to sporadic writing sessions, a then-15-year-old Rico was preparing for her glo up. While she admits she felt "super out of place" in school, hip-hop allowed her to express the creative chaos that was consuming her brain.
Subsequently, she unleashed her first mixtape, Summer's Eve, a 2014 project she readily admits was trash. To her own credit, when Rico released 2016's Sugar Trap, the effort that introduced her playful yet untamed sound to the world, it was clear this woman was set for stardom. A gun-toting, smirking Rico nestled beside teddy bears, a horse and a lollipop on that mixtape cover was one of the earliest visuals showcasing she was much different than the rest.
Songs like "Smack a Bitch," a raging, guitar-riddled anthem, "Countin' Up," a nod to N.O.R.E.'s classic "Superthug" and "Poppin'," a charged-up banger, prove she's got fire bars and indelible lyrics to match. And don't even sleep on the visuals. She's a sugar trap goddess descending upon a different dimension in the video for "Roof" and her "Guap (LaLaLa)" clip finds her going cuckoo in the hospital as a glammed-up version of herself gives the OK to sedate her. With music influences ranging from pop star powerhouses to respected MCs, it's no surprise Rico's aesthetic combines a unique mix of grunge and glamour.
“I love Rihanna," the 24-year-old rapper born Maria Kelly shares. "She’s a bad bitch and a businesswoman. She’s the best. I love Beyoncé. I feel like Beyoncé is the final form of a person. Like, you gotta get to your Beyoncé stage in life. That’s your final form as a human. Tyler, The Creator [and] Earl Sweatshirt. I also like Missy Elliott and Eve. [They’re] fire, too.”
Rico Nasty is aware of her potential. Lyrics from her 2017 track "Key Lime OG" are indicative of that sentiment: "Bitch, I been the flame, I just need a lighter." With six mixtapes in the span of five years—Summer's Eve (2104), The Rico Story (2016), Sugar Trap (2016), Tales of Tacobella (2017), Sugar Trap 2 (2017), Nasty (2018) and Anger Management with Kenny Beats (2019)—and over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the Nasty Mob are tuned in. Now, the Atlantic Records signee is focused on crafting her major label debut album. Trap Lavigne, one of Rico's many sobriquets, is just getting started.
"I feel like what I'm bringing to the table that's different is like not just consistency in the music but consistency in the creativity, consistency in the visuals, in the fashion, participation with the fans and things that I give them and merch and stuff like that," the rap quaintrelle explains. "And I'm very active with them. I don't wanna say that my shit is like, Oh my god, no one's ever heard it before or whatever, ’cause everyone's probably already heard all the shit that everyone's talking about, but I just feel like my shit just helps you get your shit off." Get ready to rage.
Becoming a 2019 XXL Freshman is surreal for Rico. She fondly recalls fellow DMV rapper Shy Glizzy earning a spot in the 2015 XXL Freshman class while Lil Yachty's 2016 induction was the most memorable in her eyes. Now it's her turn. As one of three women on the cover this year, which is a first for the brand, she's part of a pivotal change in hip-hop. Ladies run this.
"I feel like being a 2019 XXL Freshman is just, it's important for me because not too many women can say they've... gotten anything like this, not too many people from where I come from can say that they've gotten anything like this," Rico explains. "And I'm just really happy to be a part of a change because I notice that we have more women on there this year. And I'm just ready to see what the fuck happens, man."
Staying motivated in this game isn't easy. Rico has endured roadblocks in her career like many artists, but dwelling on the negativity only blocks the blessings. She battles life's pitfalls with creative optimism.
"I feel like what motivates me is what would motivate the regular average person," the "Trust Issues" rhymer says. "My family motivates me, my friends motivate me, my kid motivates me, shit that I been through in life that I got over motivates me ’cause if I can get through that then I can get through this. Everything's a journey though. Everything's a battle. Not every day is good, but today's a good day." Ice Cube would be proud.
Watch Rico Nasty discuss her journey to becoming a 2019 XXL Freshman up top.
See Photos of Rico Nasty Behind the Scenes at the 2019 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot