Rico Nasty: Nightmare Vacation review – offbeat rapper is impossible to ignore

Timi Sotire
·2-min read

Rico Nasty has never played nice: as her moniker suggests, she’s aggressive, in your face, and refuses to back down. Having amassed a strong cult following through multiple mixtapes, the 23-year-old rapper’s debut album doubles down on her raspy, crushing sound.

From the frantic shouts of “Can you feel me?” on opener Candy onwards, her explosive personality heats up blood-boiling tracks like Check Me Out (“She don’t like me? Omg! Shocker”), but she also heads into emo-rap in her collaboration with Trippie Redd in Loser, a rallying cry to all those who deviate from the norm (“see you trying way too hard to fit in / we goin’ shopping loser, get in!”). The distorted guitar riffs and hard-hitting keys from producers like Take a Daytrip and Tay Keith complement her brazen vocals well.

With a long list of bitesize tracks that average out at the two-minute mark, some moments are forgettable, like STFU and Let it Out, where the screamed raps and bass-heavy production become tiresome, one-dimensional and low-impact. The gems are when Rico leans harder into the chaos and goes all-out in her rage, culminating in a sound which she dubs “sugar trap”. Standouts include the sex-positive Pussy Poppin and the high-voltage OHFR?, the latter created with acclaimed producer Dylan Brady. Sharing the experimental genre-hopping futurism of Brady’s duo 100 Gecs, Rico is finally in her element on the likes of iPhone, a hyperpop-infused, kickdrum-heavy track layered with distorted vocals.

Ending with a remixed version of Smack a Bitch, the 2018 hit that put her on the map, Rico wants us to remember where she came from. That spluttering yet charming Rico from 2018 is still there, but overall this debut doesn’t feel like progression, but stagnation.