Music

Rico Nasty Tells Us How Technology Is Helping Her Finish Her New Album During Quarantine

Somehow, there are still people in the world with the nerve to tell Rico Nasty to “tone it down.” It’s almost like those people don’t know that Rico’s loudness — in her personality, her looks, and her music — are the exact reason she’s popping right now. Her brash ferocity is a feature, not a bug, and it’s one that has made her Cardi B’s favorite, a lightning rod around which rebels and oddballs can congregate, and one of the freshest acts on offer in the hip-hop game today.

Fortunately, Rico doesn’t take the protestations of brands and sponsors personally, choosing to see their caveats as a chance to show off even more sides of her colorful, multifaceted personality. Doubling down on that good fortune, some brands are encouraging her to be as loud as she wants to be. For instance, the headphone manufacturer Skullcandy recently recruited Rico for its second partnership with the rambunctious rapper to promote its Mood Boost campaign, the proceeds of which are being donated to a mental health non-profit.

Rico — an Uproxx favorite if ever there was one — jumped on the phone to talk about not just the campaign, but life in quarantine, sticking up for her sisters in hip-hop, and her upcoming debut album, Nightmare Vacation, which has evolved to suit the circumstances, reflecting its creator’s ever-shifting but always authentic personality.

So what can you tell me about this initiative with Skullcandy?

I just love the way they let me be myself. I feel like throughout the campaign, they let me wear whatever I want to, they let me have my hair and my makeup just very Rico Nasty. And I do get requests to tone it down sometimes. So it’s really awesome when you get to go to a place and you know creatively can do whatever the f*ck you want.

But what I can say about this new one that we did this year was, the colors… it was so many different colors, and you guys know this about me, I love f*cking colors. I love neon colors. So when they were showing me all the different earbuds, all the different sh*t that they made, I just felt really involved in it.

That’s great. Who are these people who are specifically signing up to do work with Rico Nasty and asking you to tone it down?

I feel like when you’re a woman, you might have to deal with that more often than men. I tend to be very bold. I make a lot of bold statements. So when I said, “Tone it down,” it probably means like you want to see pastels. We want to see bright eye makeup, we don’t want to see black lines and sh*t like that. I really take it to heart, because I like when people want me to push the way I look. I think it’s cool.

I was on that Zoom call that we did a couple weeks ago about “Popstar.” I think that it was interesting that you said was that you’re learning to cook something new every day. What kind of things are you learning to cook?

So last night, I made turkey wings. Well, my best friend taught me how to make turkey wings. My best friend, she’s the one that would be cheffing it up. I’m good with pastas and stuff, but she knows how to cook real meat. She knows how to cook steak. All the real important type sh*t. So that’s what we did last night. And I felt like every day we’ve just been trying to do something that we don’t know how to do. Like we did baked mac and cheese and it came out pretty good, which was rare because baked mac and cheese is hard to make. Because I’m working on trying to gain weight, we’ve also just been working on meal prep. So it’s not necessarily been I don’t know how to cook. I know how to cook. I’m just lazy.

What’s the latest on Nightmare Vacation? I know you said it was pretty much done, but now you know, it’s more in flux. It’s like a painting and it’s never finished.

Coronavirus, it might have inspired me to actually do what I always wanted to do with the album, which was make it very virtual.

I’m not going to say too much about that, but just I will leave you with that. I always wanted my album to be similar to a simulation, VR. If you get my drift, like as far as the visuals go and sh*t like that. [Right now] you can’t touch me, you can’t come to the show. So that’s what we’re developing right now is giving them that opportunity to really damn near be in the same room as me. No holograms, weird sh*t like that. But some high tech sh*t.

Absolutely. Technology has made things possible that weren’t possible before. For instance, the “Popstar” video, you made that in your basement on a green screen with a designer that you had no physical contact with. 20 years ago, they couldn’t even imagine such a thing happening and now it’s like, “Oh yeah, let’s do it.”

Yeah, it really went from, “Okay, wow, we have Uber. We have video chat and all that cool sh*t,” to now the connection is literally so good that not only was he not here when we were shooting “Popstar,” but he was on FaceTime when we were shooting it and it’s going at the same rate, so he’s able to say “cut.”

That’s fire. Another fun bit of technology is that we have Netflix and that’s keeping us all entertained. I know you loved Tiger King because of the mullets.

Oh my f*cking God. You know what, Tiger King is one of them shows that I hate that I love it. I’m mad at myself that I like that show.

Why? Everybody loves it.

Everybody loves it, right? But I feel like I didn’t… This might be some weird sh*t to say, but I feel like I didn’t walk away with the same message that everyone else walked away with.

And I’m going to let you ask me why.

What was the message you got that everybody might have missed?

I feel like this is going to sound really f*cking crazy, but I’m trying to buy a tiger. Because I can afford that now.

Oh no, don’t buy a tiger, Rico.

Yeah, I know, I know, I know, I know. I believe you. I know, I know. But hear me out though.

It sounds cool.

It’s so cute. It sounds great. It sounds great initially. Me and my friends have gone through this like several times. They’re like, “Where are you going to keep it when it gets big?” And I’m like, “You know, if you don’t think Cardi B and Offset can afford a tiger and pay for land to raise it?” Because they can.

Yes. Only thing is, they can eat your arm.

You know what it is though? Imagine you really do love this animal. Swae Lee, they took his monkey. And all the videos I saw of him and that monkey, I feel like he genuinely loved that. And that’s not even the most f*cked-up part about it too. It’s really a relationship with the animal. Like somebody comes and knocks on your door. They’re like, “You can’t f*cking have this.” And that’s like your best friend. That’s scary.

But yeah you cooled me off, I might not get a tiger.

I’m from Compton so there’s a lot of horses around, so I know that once you start getting the bigger animals, the more complicated it becomes to take care of. And a lot of people just don’t have like the time it takes to really put in work. But it’s funny that you mentioned Cardi because I was actually going to ask you about Cardi. I wrote a whole thing about how Cardi may end up being the next Drake in terms of who she puts her blessing on is the next one to blow up. You know, when Cardi was coming in, everybody was comparing her to Nicki, saying, “Aw, you know they got to have beef.” You’re coming in and it’s like Cardi is going, “Nah, I don’t want to have beef with Rico. I want Rico to blow up.”

I can honestly say that when it comes to like the OGs in the female rap, there ain’t none of them ever make me feel like I ain’t belonged, on the competitive sh*t. I think I sat next to Lil’ Kim. She sat in front of me at the Savage X Fenty show and I introduced myself. And Trina is f*cking awesome. A lot of the women that have been doing this sh*t for a while have been awesome. Cardi’s awesome. Nicki’s awesome.

But when you walk in a room and you see legends, you f*cking speak right. Show respect and homage. We’ve seen what happens when you don’t pay homage, you don’t pay respect, and it really looks deliberately done, it looks hella disrespectful. These women work hard as f*ck. And just getting in the game, touring and having a family and having all the sh*t you have to do… Because I feel like that’s part of being a female too. We love when people acknowledge the cool sh*t we do. So I just try to go along putting the energy out and I feel like I genuinely get it back most of the time.

Like with the Birds Of Prey soundtrack. Everybody was yelling at Saweetie over the styling of the “Sway With Me” video.

They were so mad.

She probably had zero input on any of that stuff, but they were mad at her and they were talking down to her and then you stepped in and you were just like, “No, absolutely not. We’re not going to do that today. Let’s talk about something positive.” Where did that willingness to step in and cut things off come from? Why do you think people are still going so hard on trying to create friction when you all are trying to create a wave?

When you’re a pretty girl, and now I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about “we.” We are a pretty girl. People always think you’re a bitch. It’s not even funny how many people probably think Saweetie is a bitch and she’s rude and she’s a snobby person and all that sh*t. And I just don’t see that. I don’t see that from that girl. I feel like she went to the shoot and they put on whatever they had there and she was like, “Okay, okay this is a look.” And a look is a look.

Shout out to Saweetie for not being one of them people that was like, just a smartass or rude about it? Bro, it’s fashion. It’s just clothes and hair.

You’ve always addressed mental health in some way, shape, form, or fashion throughout your music. I mean, whether it’s “Smack A Bitch” or Anger Management, that’s mental health. Why do you think it’s so important for hip-hop and yourself to address that topic?

I feel like I just have a brain. I have a brain so mental health is important to me if my brain doesn’t feel good, then I don’t feel good and then nobody’s going to feel good. You have to be mindful that normally because you have a brain, you attract other people that have a brain and they might need their brain stimulated or their emotions acknowledged. And being a rapper, sometimes we get so caught up in how cool you are that you kind of forget to acknowledge the sh*t that other people might go through. So “Smack A Bitch” or Anger Management, I was going through a lot, getting frustrated about stuff, and feeling like I had to hide it.

I can’t get as mad. If I get mad how I want to get mad, I’m going to look “crazy.” I’m going to look bad, I’m going to look “ratchet.” I’m going to look like stupid f*cking stigmas that people put on you. And making that project was really important. I didn’t give a f*ck if people thought I was angry, I didn’t give a f*ck if people thought I was too loud. I don’t give a f*ck. This is how I feel. And it’s f*cking relative. Who don’t want to smack a bitch? Who don’t?

Rico Nasty is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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