Music

Rico Nasty Shines as a New Punk Icon on ‘Nightmare Vacation’

Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Much like her fierce disposition, Rico Nasty’s full-length debut album Nightmare Vacation doesn’t ease up on the rapper’s sheer angst. Listeners who have raged to the “TACOBELLA” since her rise to stardom after her girl fight anthem “Smack A B*tch” went viral, will not be surprised by the continuity of Nasty’s punk-influenced sound which transitions into more pop-laden tracks and various guest appearances on her new project.

After Nasty’s radical 2019 EP Anger Management made with her trusted producer Kenny Beats (check Nasty’s signature “KENNNYYY” tag), fans were in dire need of more thrills. During quarantine, Rico Nasty (born Maria-Cecila Simone Kelly) had her first eyeshadow palette collaboration, became the internet’s sweetheart through personable makeup tutorials, filmed countless TikToks, and donned the covers of numerous magazines including Wonderland and UPROXX, Nasty reemerged on Nightmare Vacation with foolproof quality.

While fans in the “Sugar Trap” may have anticipated her San Francisco appearance at Red Bull Zeltron World Wide battle with rapper Denzel Curry in March, Nasty’s performance plans were halted as COVID-19 became rampant. Still, she returned to the studio to diversify her energetic sound.

Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Achieving her futuristic prophecy, Nasty is no holds barred on trap-tinged album opener “Candy.” Despite the track’s wholesome title, Nasty doesn’t resist boasting about her five-year-old son’s designer drip and being unbothered as she envisions her ideal digs.

Throughout relatively bite-sized song lengths, Nasty paces herself alongside new collaborators without missing a beat. On the glacial “Don’t Like Me,” the rapper joins in sweet harmony with Cactus Jack rapper Don Tolliver, who released his debut album Heaven or Hell in March. Also featuring Gucci Mane straight from his record-breaking Verzuz battle in November, the song is one of the few times that Nasty sings almost entirely, a sudden turn from her nearly-screamo appeal. Previously collaborating with Doja Cat (“Tia Tamera”) and Kali Uchis (“¡aquí yo mando!”) Nasty incessantly proves that she can merge into the pop lane with ease.

Like her sinister Halloween weekend, Nasty embraces playing the supervillain on “STFU.” Menacingly taunting her nemesis about not getting enough “pesos,” Nasty dives headfirst into NSFW-laced obscenity. The middle finger anthem could be a music festival standout once concert postponement is lifted and fans beg Nasty to spit into their mouths again.

Nightmare Vacation includes several more guests with newly-released projects and features Nasty standing toe-to-toe with male features. “Back & Forth” with Limbo rapper Aminé is no different. While Aminé continues to show opposition to law enforcement through a “f*ck 12” sentiment, the two trade flirtatious lines as Nasty flippantly boasts about having men in different area codes.

Nightmare Vacation album cover art. Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Sitting atop of her bed within a cloudy abyss of lighting and rainbows on the Nightmare Vacation cover, Nasty accepts her platform as a budding artist while forecasting the relentless price of fame. Meanwhile, in 2019, with intention behind the madness, Nasty took a cue from the 1991 psychology book The New Primal Scream for the Anger Management cover.

While self-care through meditation was a priority for many in quarantine, Nasty chooses an alternate route of releasing pent-up aggression on “Let It Out.” Unabashedly frenzied over an electric guitar, Nasty boxes out the competition, spazzing on foes and encouraging listeners to “throw the fade” during a rivalry.

Embodying her alternative-oriented fanbase, Nasty makes space for another self-proclaimed loner, Trippie Redd. As the two cruise the streets on “Loser,” Nasty nods to 2004 chick-flick Mean Girls (“we’re going shopping, loser, get in”).

As women rappers continue to make a splash in hip-hop, Nasty doesn’t shy away from her ravenous sexuality on “P***y Poppin.” Paying homage to the southern bounce movement, Nasty premiered the salacious track on her OnlyFans as a Black Friday gift.

Nasty comes full-circle at the end of the album with a remix of her breakthrough single “Smack A B*tch,” in which Nasty reintroduces the song with an all-star team. As Nasty returns the favor to the trio of up-and-coming rappers, the women take turns paying homage by emulating Nasty’s ferocity, cementing her position on Nightmare Vacation as leader of the new cool.