Who Is Rico Nasty?

21-year-old DMV rapper Rico Nasty is one of hip-hop's most exciting and unpredictable new talents.

But who exactly IS she?

Born Maria Kelly to a Puerto Rican mother and black father, her stage name stems from a brief moment of hostility in her teenage years.

Apparently, in high school, she wore a lanyard around her neck that read "Puerto Rico," and a boy attempted to embarrass her by calling her "Rico Nasty." Like everything she does, she let it fuel her instead of humiliate her and changed it to her Instagram name.

That's what makes Kelly stand out– she doesn't let haters get to her. Instead, she celebrates them.

On her latest release, 2019's Anger Management, her joint project with producer Kenny Beats, she takes aim at haters and dismissive men in a frenzied, 18-minute spit-fire fueled by her rage and dynamism.

Characterized by her signature scream ("KENNNNYYYY!"), witty ad-libs and rap-rock style, Anger Management showcases Kelly's ability to evolve.

"The expression of anger is a form of rejuvenation," Kelly raps on "Sell Out." "I'm screaming inside of my head in hopes that I'm easing the pain."

She is, after all, one of few women trying to cut her teeth in a male-dominated rap industry.

Despite the music industry's tendency to commodify female artists– particularly female rappers– Kelly refuses to be controlled.

“Women are on this pedestal of how we're supposed to look and smell,” she said.

"Well I'm breaking that standard and the window on they ass.”

It's not just her image that oscillates, but her music, too. One minute, she's sampling kids' TV shows ("Hey Arnold" and "iCarly") and the next, she's dedicating an entire mixtape to her softer alter-ego, Tacobella (2017's Tales of Tacobella).

Her animation, excitement and unpredictability keep fans on their toes.

Rico Nasty "Hey Arnold" Official Music Video (feat. Lil Yachty)

Kelly's career is associated with her signature throat scratchiness, rapidly changing hairstyles (and colors) and cartoon imagery. She's constantly reinventing herself and is frequently seen donning bright wigs and colorful ensembles.

Somehow both charming and terrifying, she rages about the trials and tribulations of modern young adulthood in most of her songs. Take "Block List" for example, a song about blocking someone's phone number and social media profiles.

"I got tired of thinking about how many times a guy has wasted my time or wasted my weed because they wanna fake hang or try their hand," Kelly said in an interview.

"...So I made a song about blocking n*s before they can get a chance to ruin my day. Any and everybody can get blocked for all types of reasons– guys just try not to end up on our block list because y'all be geeking."

Kelly's father was a rapper, so growing up, she was exposed to the likes of Bob Marley, Jay-Z and Jill Scott. She began her own rap career in high school and dropped her first mixtape– Summer's Eve– in eleventh grade.

She gained a steady following after the release of her back-to-back 2016 mixtapes, The Rico Story and Sugar Trap. The next year, her single "Poppin'" garnered over 5 million views on YouTube and was featured on the HBO show, "Insecure."

The song was also featured on Kelly's fifth tape, Sugar Trap 2, which Rolling Stone listed as one of 2017's best Rap Albums.

Rico Nasty "Poppin'" Official Music Video

Throughout her career, Kelly has tried on many different hats and constantly switches up her style.

Her 2018 tape, Nasty, exhibits her punk and heavy metal influences in songs "Rage" and "Trust Issues," with the delicate and daintier Tacobella taking over tracks "Why Oh Why," "Won't Change" and "Life Back."

Rico Nasty "Rage" Official Music Video

On Anger Management, Kelly refines her genre-fluidity in songs like the bone-crushing "Smack A Bitch," which speaks for itself.

Rico Nasty "Smack A Bitch" Official Music Video

Fear her or love her, Rico Nasty is making her mark in the rap game, stepping on bitches' throats in a whirlwind of technicolored chaos.

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Last updated: 19 Jul 2024, 23:28 Etc/UTC