“I got bi***es on my d**k, and I ain’t even got a d**k!”, Rico Nasty literally screams on the opening verse of “Hatin”. The rework of Jay-Z’s classic “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” could be summed up with two simple words, better known from Drake’s famous diss record in his notorious beef with Pusha T: “The nerve, the audacity”.
The last time any female rapper took over on any man’s legendary track, which was widely commented and critical acclaimed, was Angel Haze’s take on an Eminem classic. Her version of “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” was an emotional rollercoaster and a very raw track. When she recounts her experience with childhood sexual abuse, the hip-hop scene was shaking, but “Hatin” hit even harder for different reasons, obviously.
Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly, better known as Rico Nasty, started her journey with rap music at a very young age. She released Summer’s Eve in 2014, but it was The Rico Story and Sugar Trap that gained her notable attention from media. “[She] is our rage queen” according to Afropunk and there’s no wrong in that statement.
Anger Management is an 18-minute length proof that Rico Nasty is still an unapologetic artist. Though people often compare her to early Avril Lavigne, Kelis and Azealia Banks, and mix it with Missy Elliott’s eclectic, she has found her very own voice on this project, and you can clearly see it on the album cover. When she shouts “KENNY!” on the track “Cold”, you know she’s not biting one’s tongue.
The whole project was produced by her longtime producer Kenny Beats (with additional contribution from Baauer), so it’s a natural continuation of her heavy sound, mixed with genres like hip-hop, rock and even metal. The amount of ad-libs and screamings is unbelievable, but you feel her strong energy and charisma from the very first second.
The duo also brought some futuristic elements on the album, like on a opening track “Cold”, there’s a automated voice welcoming listeners to the project. Is it a reference to TLC’s Fanmail (1999) or But You Caint Use My Phone (2015) from Erykah Badu?
On the second track “Cheat Code”, she warns everybody not to start a beef with her and not to try and copy her style. “I just wanna know why all these b***hes so predictable (Woah) / I can never be typical”, she raps furiously over hard, thrilling beat.
Coming back to her “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” remake “Hatin”, Rico Nasty literally reworked it to a decent feminist anthem. It’s like she has totally joined the Beyoncé campaign trail, circa when Queen B was saying “I’m Not Bossy, I’m a Boss”.
That’s how she feel in a hip-hop world dominated by men. “Go to the club, leave that n***a at home / If you got your own shit, you ain’t ever gotta listen to him, girl”, she spits like there’s no rules in rap game, over one of the most famous Timbaland joints.
The track titled “Relative” reminds me of a 90s old school rap beat with some R&B samples. It’s directed to all people who want to become friends with Rico now that she’s famous. Sounds familiar? “I be gettin’ money, now everybody my relative / Talkin’ bout, ‘It’s all love’, like I don’t know what jealousy is”, she raps at the beginning.
The record that hits the most, in terms of her honesty is “Sell Out”. She continues to express her feelings about fake friends and people, over a melancholy beat from Kenny Beats. “Don’t worry about where everyone is going or been / I done did some f***ed up shit in the past but I know that the Lord forgive”, she raps with less anger but more confidence and passion.
On the last track of Anger Management called “Again”, she sounds more tranquil. The album’s producer Kenny Beats explained the whole idea of EP on Twitter and how the track “Again” fits in, “It’s like a temper tantrum… starts off panicked… thinks it out… finishes calm”.
“You could leave me to die, I was born to win”, she claims on “Sell Out”, and in a world full of copycat female rappers, or the whole boring-trap-rap-game, she is winning with her originality and individuality right now. Anger Management is not only an electrifying, addictive record, but also one of the best projects released in the first part of this year.
Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats’ Anger Management is out now via Sugar Trap, purchase it on iTunes here and stream it on Spotify below.
Words by Julia Borowczyk