Rico Nasty Thinks Rage Rap Is ‘F****** Boring’ So She’s Shaking Off The Anger With ‘HARDC0RE DR3AMZ’

Rico Nasty is constantly evolving. When the world first met the Maryland rapper, she was hip-deep in the “sugar trap” subgenre she’d invented — think Lil Uzi Vert’s woozy cloud rap with much more saccharine sounds. Then, she broke out with the fist-pumping rage rap anthem “Smack A Bitch.” But just when fans began to define her by that sound, she shifted again on each of her last two albums, Nightmare Vacation and Las Ruinas.

She’s doing so again on her latest project, HARDC0RE DR3AMZ, a joint EP with German producer Boys Noize. After previously working with Boys Noize on tracks like “Girl Crush” and “Money” with Flo Milli, Rico is leaning all the way into the producer’s EDM trappings on her latest, as seen in the EP’s first single “ARINTINTIN.”

And while her pivot to EDM is only a piece of a larger reclamation of the form by Black artists like Cakes Da Killa, Channel Tres, Duckwrth, and Leikeli47, Rico is naturally going to do things her own way. Uproxx reunited with our first-ever cover star via Zoom and as we vibed like a family reunion, she gave us her take on EDM, traveling, and why rage rap is now “really f*cking boring.”

Is there anything you would like for me to know about HARDC0RE DR3AMZ going into it? I would love to know how this one advances you guys’ previous collaborations, how it builds on those.

Our first song was “Girl Crush” and it was some really cool UK grime mixed with German techno. That was my first experience with Boys Noize and just dance music in general. After that, we did “Money” with Flo Milli, and obviously we did songs in between that never came out. It was super fun watching him go out and perform the song, as well, for hella people. And then it was also fun performing the song and barely have been performing the song and everybody knows it because he’s played it so many times.

I met Alex or Boys Noize through Kenny Beats, which was how I got introduced to the EDCs, the Hard Fest, going to Berlin, going to raves. And early on I tried to incorporate that into the relationships that I have with my fans, how the rave kids be like Blur and shit like that. The rave culture is all about looking out for one another and loving one another. So I try to incorporate that with the moshing and all the other shit that I do. Now, I travel a lot and do a lot of shows overseas and they still love to dance out there, so I just wanted to do something that I never did before and really dive into what that could sound like.

I’m interested to see how your fans react to it because obviously you’re known more for the thrash rap, screamo, sugar trap, that sort of thing. And this is a left turn.

Yeah, but we always do that. I mean, when everybody thought that I was sugar trap, I went rage, and now I just keep growing and liking different stuff and literally f*ck anybody who’s expecting me to make something like “Smack A Bitch” anymore. It’s been years, bro.

One thing I hate the most about music is that everybody thinks you’re just going to drop this project and never drop music again, and they don’t allow you to be an artist anymore. I’m an artist. I want to try sh*t. I want to do stuff I never did before. I’m living my life. I’m going places I’ve never been before, eating sh*t I never ate before. I’m around people I’ve never been around before. Of course, sh*t is going to be different. Because I’m a rapper, I’m going to rap, but sometimes a girl wants to have fun. Sometimes I just want to make music that’s c*nt. What’s wrong with that?

Absolutely. And you know what I think is genuinely interesting about you coming around to EDM is that I’ve noticed an industry-wide thing: Black people have come back to EDM. EDM and hip-hop have always been kind of interconnected.

Yeah. ASAP Rocky and Skrillex.

Even before that …here comes old Uncle Aaron. I’m going to tell you there was a group called the Jungle Brothers back in the ’80s. And they were mixing house in with the hip-hop, and they had a song, “I’ll House You.” And people were like, “What is this?” But hip-hop was so new, it wasn’t like, “Oh, you can only do this anymore. You can’t smile, you can’t dance, you can’t have fun.”

I think it’s the energy of it, man. Truly. Black people have been at the forefront of almost every genre. When you look back on electronic music… like, I said that ASAP Rocky song because I remember being on YouTube really heavy. That was the beginning of shit going viral. And I remember it being like two worlds colliding because at that time it was like electronic music but it was called dubstep at that time.

It’s also weird because I hear so much dubstep influence in hyperpop now. There’s a lot of young Black artists that are in hyperpop and I feel like hyperpop is damn near an art version of electronic music.

I do love the way it’s a conversation. It’s like we start something, it changes, but then when we come back to it, it’s like, “Ah, nah, we going to-

Make something new.

Yes, absolutely. With that being said, what was the criteria for the songs that made it onto this EP as opposed to ones that maybe you held onto or just cut entirely?

I feel like they had to sound like I was making dance music and not too much rapping or too wordy with lyrics to where people can’t … It’s not fun to dance to when you’re thinking so hard. I wanted catchy stuff. “Vvgina” is my favorite song on there because I always wanted to make a really, really sad song a happy song, and that’s what that is.

It’s one of those sneaky ones.

The “Pumped Up Kicks.”

Some Rico Nasty lore that we explored the last time we talked was how much we both loved anime growing up, and I had been working on this piece when Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball, died. And I wanted to get you on it so bad and I just didn’t have the time to get you on it.

That would’ve been insane.

I’m just going to ask you a question that I asked everybody. If he was here, what would you want to say to him right now?

He’s a bad bitch. The baddest bitch.

So what’s something that you want people to take away from HARDC0RE DR3AMZ when they listen to it? Like the main idea?

I want them to take away that we’ve become f*cking boring. Everything is so f*cking boring, y’all, and I feel like if you’re going to have fun, whether it’s in the car by yourself or you’re going to have fun, I’ve always provided that space for us to have fun. And I feel like somewhere along this road that I’ve taken with my fans, everything just became being angry. We’re so f*cking mad all the time. We’re screaming. We’re doing all this. It’s like, “Why the f*ck? Why do I have to be like that forever?” That’s what I want them to take away from it. Let’s just vibe, man. Just vibe. Let me cook. Period.

HARDC0RE DR3AMZ is out 3/29 via Sugar Trap/Atlantic Records/Big Beat.

Rico Nasty is a Warner Music artist. .