This story is featured in CityBeat's May 17 print edition.
Rico Nasty is a gritty glam icon known for her boisterous, punk-trap raps atop arrays of instrumentals that mesh exuberance and standoffishness — a sound that she has dubbed “sugar trap.” The interplay of screamed brusqueness and purring playfulness make Rico Nasty’s music come off as a soundtrack to an intense life with the extremes of emotions put on display.
Effortless blends of flowery and poppy flows with militant and antagonistic grunge overtones make Rico Nasty one of the most unmistakable and puzzling acts in hip hop. This conflated air about her is sewn in her fashion too. The juxtaposition is apparent when scrolling through her music catalog or social media. Doubtless, she is a creature of outward reflection of her swaying internal states.
The juxtaposition of ambivalence and harsh emotion cuts through on her latest album, 2022’s Las Ruinas, more than ever. And the range of sounds that appear on the tracklist scatter into experimental, digital-inspired sounds that make the dizziness feel cohesive. This album, despite its synthetic vocal modulations and disjointed instrumentals, feels utterly human and raw.
Vocals dressed in a sparkly finish lend to the multifaceted emotions — sometimes pitch-corrected squeaks cast her as a lovably aggressive cartoon character, other times scratchy sheaths atop her vocals add to poignant vulnerability, and of course, straight-forward, brazen bars remind listeners of the underlying confidence at play.
We’ll see if some of the sentimental tracks that rounded out Las Ruinas make it on the setlist at her Cincinnati show, but their inclusion would make for a seismically radial spectrum of emotion.
A supporting cast of women emcees will open the show. Clip will add to the evening’s gentleness with her euphoric, lo-fi alt-rap sound. Omeretta the Great will sear the stage with her sharp-cut bars brimming with confidence.
Rico Nasty plays Top Cats at 8 p.m. May 27. Info: topcatscincy.com.
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