Rico Nasty is a trailblazer in the modern hip-hop landscape. Her unapologetic approach to making music has gained her notoriety amongst fans and high profile peers like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Rihanna to name a few. With the release of her latest project Nightmare Vacation last week, Rico showcases a softer, more delicate side to the bratty and brash ‘Smack a Bitch’ persona she’s become famous for—tracks like the Gucci Mane and Don Toliver assisted ‘Don’t Like Me’ and ‘Loser’ featuring Trippie Redd demonstrate Rico’s melodic side, while album cuts like ‘No Debate’ and ‘Own It’ serve as dancefloor-ready pop-rap hits. OG Rico fans needn’t fret though, there’s still a healthy dose of punk-rock-Rico on the project with standout tracks ‘STFU’ and ‘OHFR?’ serving as reminders of her signature badassery, peppered throughout a range of new flavours.
After a year of adapting to the global pandemic, and with Nightmare Vacation keeping Rico occupied, we caught up with the US artist to talk about the process of creating her latest project, working with different producers and redefining her comfort zone.
Rico, congrats on Nightmare Vacation! How are you feeling?
How’s this year been for you, how have you been moving differently?
I mean, it definitely feels really weird releasing music without shows but I’m just really excited to have it out. I’m just excited to start working on something new at this point but also really excited to give my fans music to kick ass to.
What did making this album teach you about yourself?
I feel like it taught me not to rush. More than anything, starting with ‘iPhone’, it taught me I could make any kind of song I want. I feel like I just have to believe in myself more. So many people think I’m conceited, cocky or whatever the case may be—that I have a lot of confidence or I’m super badass, but I feel like I need more of that. I think being in quarantine took away my ego a little bit, I’ve been bored but this album has been keeping me busy. I’m just looking forward to the future.
Do you feel like you needed to break the mould that you’d created for yourself? I feel like you show a softer side to yourself on this project, is that something you had been nervous to do before?
Definitely, I feel like people had placed me as a role model before I had said I wanted to be that. I was nervous to talk about certain topics and things like that in my music. But as you grow you realise that certain topics aren’t as hard to talk about as we make them out to be.
What are some things that helped you get out of your comfort zone?
I don’t second guess myself, that’s number one. If I am going to et on something that I’m unfamiliar with, I’m not pessimistic and I don’t wait so long to the point where I’m like “No I can’t do it”—I just go for it.
Who are some of the producers you worked with on this project…and was Kenny Beats jealous of you working with other producers? (Kidding!)
Aww. No Kenny wasn’t jealous. I feel like the relationship I have with Kenny is definitely Brother/Sister, Mama Bird/Baby Bird—I’m definitely the baby Bird, he’s the Mama. I feel like with me and Kenny it’s one of those things where you work with an artist right at that cusp before everybody else finds out about them—that’s what it was with me. He really nurtured me you know, he made me not shy to work in the studio with other people, he made me more vocal when I wanted things done. He taught me how to be specific, because when you work with a producer, you could say, like, “synths”. Then you’ll just be going through a long-ass rabbit hole, so you have to know the sound you’re asking for. He taught me how to study music.
I feel like he’s been a very important part of my career and it is something that would have turned into a Nightmare Vacation if we were to continue to work together because too much of anything is not good and I had heard people saying stuff like “Oh she’s only fire if she’s on a Kenny beat” so I had to show them. We ended up getting ‘Smack A Bitch’ on there so he still worked his way onto this fucking album because I really do love him.
In terms of the other producers I worked with on this project—Dylan Brady is amazing. I got the chance to work with Working on Dying, Take A Daytrip, Buddha Bless. I love all the producers on this project, they were amazing.
That’s so nice, I’m sure Kenny just wants to see you shine!
He genuinely does and I feel like when you meet somebody like that in this industry, you don’t need to rush the relationship and keep forcing it. We want to see each other grow. I’m really excited for this album to be out. I might go to the studio with Kenny with a whole new genre.
So there aren’t many features on the new album but the ones you do have definitely count. You’ve got Gucci Mane and Don Toliver, you’ve got Trippie Redd. Can you talk to me about their contributions to Nightmare Vacation?
Working with all of them was virtual because of COVID but they all sent me their verses super quickly and I love how they turned out. I feel like COVID made features kind of easier in a way.
Rico, appreciate you taking the time! Hopefully we see you back in Australia before too long.
Honestly, I wish I was in Australia right now. If I could be anywhere in the world, I wish I could be in Australia. I really mean that. I know ya’ll be smoking weed out there — I ain’t gonna tell nobody. It’s always good vibes, I really do miss y’all. Y’all are the best!
Follow Rico Nasty here for more and stream Nightmare Vacation below.