Banerjee: Rico Nasty is making music for the people

The rapper’s rise to fame is a sign that what people want from artists and their music is changing, and this change is for the better.

Anna Banerjee, Opinions Columnist

Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly, better known by her moniker Rico Nasty, is an up-and-coming music phenomenon in the trap game. With seven mixtapes since 2014, her work has evolved through the time to encapsulate a raw type of aggression and energy that few other artists with her sway have achieved.

Each “KENNY” that pierces the beginning of her songs, referencing her producer Kenny Beats, has become an anthem to listeners across the world, a battle cry for people who need outlets for the aggression that has been cultivated by the modern cultural and political landscapes.

Following the drop of her highly anticipated mixtape Anger Management, Rico’s popularity in pop culture has skyrocketed. Her sound is loud and furious, underscored by strong beats and trap sounds. In many ways, her success is striking. Black women, especially loud and empowered black women such as Rico, rarely get the attention or praise they deserve in the music industry. Stigmas and stereotypes surrounding what their sound should be like in order to maintain a false sense of propriety or correctness have seriously damaged the music community. But, even though Rico’s success is impressive, it is not entirely unfounded.

Everything about Rico’s look and sound is frenzied energy that, in many ways, mimics what people are looking for right now. The instability of our world — one that is often violent, loud, and confusing — is incorporated into her work, but reimagined. Rico may be loud and aggressive, but she is not negative or mean-spirited. Instead, she’s simply bold. Her originality speaks louder than anything else she does; we know Rico because we haven’t heard Rico in the mainstream in the same way.

Anger Management features tracks such as “Hatin” and reimagines violent lyrics into sounds of empowerment and energy. There is an undeniable strength in her music that seems to be lacking in conventional music played on the radio. Women rarely get the opportunity to be loud on the level that she is — her success spits in the face of all of those who would doubt her.

Rico is proud to be who she is, and she doesn’t change that about her in any of her mixtapes. Even though her sound has strongly evolved and grown in the five or so years she has been on the scene, the Rico energy remains. Her collaborations with artists such as Doja Cat (of “Mooo!” fame) are similarly powerful. Women and their strengths are brought to the fore with such lyrics as “They said, ‘Rico, you so nasty,’ I said, ‘Thank you very much.’ ” Rico is nasty, and she knows it.

Her music may not be formally perfect, and some of it does not fully hit the mark, but more often than not, it depicts an artist who wants to try to achieve something new with her sound. People receive it well because something about her work strikes a chord in us. We recognize her anger and energy in ourselves and want to return it to the world.

Instead of complacently following rap trends, Rico’s music is hard, strong, and bold, and it is exactly what we need on the music scene. Rico proves that trap music made by black women has a space in major music circles just as much as other genres.

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