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Just when it seemed like every possible genre of music had been covered, Rico Nasty entered the scene. The artist has successfully and impressively carved out her own niche in the industry by mixing rap with rage, screamo with pop, and indulging in her role as a modern-day provocateur. Whether the Maryland native is crafting slinky club anthems or concocting thunderous songs made for mosh pits, Rico is undoubtedly the reigning queen of Black Punk.
Her 2020 debut album, Nightmare Vacation, brilliantly displayed this artistic range that makes her standout. From the playful nature of “Iphone” to the smooth antics of “Own It,” Rico’s most consistent attribute is her creative fearlessness. With her new mixtape Las Ruinas, out now, Rico continues to prove she’s come a long way from her Soundcloud days.
Here, she celebrates her latest project by sharing some personal anecdotes, thoughts, and revelations about her discography for Glamour’s 5 Songs, 5 Stories.
“Hey Arnold” was one of Rico Nasty’s first big Soundcloud singles. The song, in addition to “iCarly,” proved that she was a burgeoning star with a viral following. Lil Yachty eventually jumped on the remix to “Hey Arnold,” allowing the track to live up to her confectionary 2016 mixtape Sugar Trap. It is also one of her favorite music videos to date.
In the video for the song [the vibe] was literally, “Hey, y’all, let’s go to the park and shake our ass. Let’s just go have fun.” It was as simple as that. That’s the beauty of things nowadays—it’s so simple and easy. You don’t have to overthink it. Just go have fun with your friends and vibe.
That’s what I did for “iCarly.” I would make these posters and be like, “Hey, I’m gonna be here.” I’d drop the location and then people would just show up and we would turn it into a music video.
“Poppin” propelled Rico to the mainstream and was one of the standout tracks from 2017’s Sugar Trap 2. The video has amassed nearly 10 million views. “Poppin” was also featured on Issa Rae’s hit HBO show Insecure.
I remember writing that song while I was upset. Actually, I remember writing it in a car and I wrote maybe four bars. There was no hook. There was no “poppin ass bitch.” There was nothing. But when I got in the studio and heard the beat, then I kinda had an attitude…I mixed in my little raspy voice.
I was just having fun being a bitch. I was having a rough day; instead of being afraid to show that attitude, I just let it all out on the song. Every time I hear that song now, I’m like, “Oh, my God, I sound so bratty but in the best way possible.” We should have music that makes us feel like brats. We should be assholes when we want to.
“Tia Tamera” is one of the most notable tracks from Doja Cat’s deluxe debut studio album Amala. Rico was hand-selected by the rapper as a guest on the single. “Tia Tamera” was certified platinum in the United States. In addition, during her Coachella performance earlier this year, Doja brought out Rico for a surprise live rendition of the song.
At that time, it wasn’t like Doja was who she is now, so I wasn’t nervous or anything [to work with her]. It was just a regular collab, which I felt like is what probably made this song go so great because I didn’t overthink it or overdo anything. There wasn’t really any thought behind the lyrics, either. I just wanted to keep the same cadences that she did in her verse.
That song was hella natural. I even remember the music video being a really amazing experience all around. After that song, I got to see and actually meet someone up close and personal who crossed over [to the mainstream] right in front of my eyes. When I first found out that I was gonna do Coachella, I was in shock. Doja has features with the coolest people ever and she chose me. I felt very, very special.
“Smack a Bitch”
Arguably her most popular song, “Smack a Bitch” was originally released in 2018 but was featured on her 2020 debut album Nightmare Vacation. It is quintessential punk rock Rico, full of blistering guitar riffs and screamo vocals. The remix to “Smack a Bitch” is also on Nightmare Vacation and features Sukihana, ppcocaine, and Rubi Rose.
I had just shot the music video for “Rojo” from the Sugar Trap 2 project in L.A., and I remember being in a really cool hotel room…like, in general, the hotel was pretty cool looking. I thought, We should shoot the song that I just recorded. And then I did that.
I got into a fight and was like, “We should drop ‘Smack a Bitch.’ The song is about not giving a fuck and all of the girls [on the remix] are prime examples of people who just don’t give a fuck, who don’t care, and I respect that.” I wanted to hear them on it. The coolest part about it is that it’s not really a rager—it’s more of a head banger.
The first single from Las Ruinas encapsulates two attributes Rico embodies: attitude and authenticity. Full of heavy and spiky instrumentation, “Black Punk” is a theme song for those who proudly embrace their unconventional beauty. Tapping into her darker side is something that Rico has always done quite well.
What’s crazy is that this was supposed to be a completely different type of song. It low-key became that song that it is out of nowhere. I remember being in the studio and when we finished recording, I was like, “Okay, this is not what I wanted but I still like it.” As time went on, I kept finding myself listening back to it. I don’t necessarily remember the writing process or what genuinely happened, but I kept playing that song.
I was like, “Wow, this song makes me feel so powerful and bad—like middle finger up, black lipstick, black nail polish, get the fuck out my face, get out my way.” I love driving to that song. It made me feel like I could run a bitch over. I think that’s my favorite song off the project.
Candace McDuffie is a culture and music writer with bylines in Entertainment Weekly, Vice, Forbes, Vibe, and more. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Originally Appeared on Glamour