Rico Nasty comes in guns blazin’ to tear the Navs of the world a new one on Anger Management, screaming in admonition about “same thing… different day,” on the opening bar of “Cold.” For half the verse, she rips through lines at a breakneck pace before sauntering into a down-tempo pre-chorus. “None these bitches cold as me / me / ME!” she cries, imbuing each “me” with terrifying self-assurance. Kenny Beats’ stop-and-go bombast — or rather, explosions of kick drums and static feedback — syncopates with Rico’s alternating modes of flow: a team-up worthy of, well, throwing his name on the album cover. The sequel, “Cheat Code,” keeps bludgeoning with its bass, which seemingly hits at random. Rico’s lyrical playfulness (referencing Driving Miss Daisy, “Deflate-Gate,” and Adele) constantly plays against frenzied, variegated vocalizations, proving reminiscent of Danny Brown’s XXX-level of unhinged.
Where the first half of the album delivers the pure fireworks suggested by the titular use of “anger,” the back end references the “management”— and that’s not entirely unwelcome. The swaggering flow she adopted while interpolating Jay-Z’s “Dirt off Your Shoulder” (“Hatin’”) gets reinterpreted in the soothing “Relative” (“Number one like uno / kick your ass like judo / dogs fuck around and bite your ass like Cujo”). Where 2018’s Nasty was never consistently confident, waffling between sonic ideas and often falling onto cliché, the singing on “Sell Out” and “Again” feels called-for, authentic, and sticky. “Yeah I might sell-out / but I ain’t no sell-out” — a clever pun —is transformed by small production flourishes like ad-libbed wails and gentle flute notes. Similarly, the paradox of that line insists on the integrity of the personality delivering it, thus the following, “the kids stay around even though the doors let out / ‘Cause they just want to tell me about how I helped them out,” recalls the self-aware, healing catharsis of early Kid Cudi. Years later, we see him as a zeitgeist figure, and Rico’s in a similarly unique position — a figurehead in the leveling of the gender gap in rap music. This is the rumble of the coming storm.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 8