“After I get off stage, you know what’s the first song I play in my dressing room?”
Rico Nasty pulls out her iPhone, a sweet photo of her 8-year-old son Cameron gracing the lock screen, and opens up Apple Music.
“Mami, a mí me gusta tu descendencia entera,” the song begins. As El Alfa’s “Mama de la Mama” picks up speed, the punk-rap princess begins bouncing in her seat on-beat, letting out an exuberant giggle. “I love that song,” she exclaims. “I wanna work with [El Alfa].”
The post-concert turn up song is a testament to Rico’s Spanish Caribbean roots. The 24-year-old singer, born Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly, is half Puerto Rican, and has recently begun dipping into Latin music, including a Spanglish verse on Kali Uchis’s 2020 single, “Aquí Yo Mando.”
“I definitely want to do more songs in Spanish,” she says, with a tinge of childlike excitement. While Spanglish songs are on her mind, Rico is currently on the road supporting Playboi Carti on his King Vamp Tour, alongside Ken Car$on. Although she is the lone female act, Rico says Carti and Carson have “embraced” her. “They’re very sweet,” she adds.
The audience itself is a different story, however. Throughout the tour, the D.C.-made rapper experienced hecklers in attendance, booing her and even going so far as to throw objects at her during her set. The tasteless crowd antics and Rico’s subsequent responses earned a considerable amount of press coverage, raising concerns of underlying sexism and racism towards Black female ragers. On Nov. 27, Rico posted and deleted three tweets detailing her mental state, raising concerns for the rapper. “I wish I was dead just as much as ya’ll do, trust me,” she said in one tweet.
Early on, Rico was vocal about the events, posting a series of tweets addressing the pattern of disrespect at shows. “Anti black ass crowd . Weak ass little boys wit blonde pubes . Ugh . Get me out of here,” she wrote in a tweet. In a video posted to twitter, Rico can be seen standing her ground and telling off disruptive audience members. “This is what the fuck we gone do for you disrespectful motherf–kers out there,” she said. “We gone sit in motherf—kng silence.”
“I think I’m making a stand for women everywhere, like, ‘F–k these n—as,'” she tells Billboard. “‘You hate me? Eat me, b—h.'”
Rather than lamenting her haters, Rico opted to gush over her latest single, “Money,” alongside fellow badass female rapper Flo Milli. In the Roxana Baldovin-directed visual for the banger, the rambunctious pair trot through their own version of fictitious Emerald City, flipping the raunchy 1986 2 Live Crew jam “We Want Some P—y” into “we want some money.” Dripping in green and draped in Benjamins, Rico and Flo finesse old rich dudes, as young women are shown watching from their at-home television screens, and taking notes.
“I like adding a little bit of funny shit in there, so I’m ready to see the memes,” she adds.
Throughout her interview with Billboard, Rico returns to themes of female solidarity, noting that her music is for the girls and by the girls. Many of her most noteworthy collabs are with female artists, including Flo, Uchis, Doja Cat and British singer Mahalia. “Sometimes you just need somebody who’s going to guide you and be there for you,” she says. “I think that’s what the sisterhood of female rap should be.”
You’ve been on tour and recently did a festival performance. How was the Day N Vegas experience?
I [felt] very loved. I love my fans. They gave me a very warm welcome — shout out to Day N Vegas. This is my second time performing here, and last time it was lit, but this time was unmatched.
Why do you think that is?
Because they’re standing up for me and I respect that. A lot of times when people make statements, people don’t stand with them. People pick up everything they f–king say, minus the fact they [stated], and they make them feel stupid and less than themselves. And [my fans] have never made me feel like that. Everything I said, they stand beside it. The fans stand beside me.
Just being a female rager, the fact that they know what they’re up against when they go out there and they rage with me in their f—ing platforms, they go crazy for me and f–k up their makeup. It means the world to me.
The heckling that took place during the King Vamp Tour have been getting a lot of media attention. What’s your take on that?
What’s weird is watching people twist it like I was booed — and I didn’t get booed. I got Carti’d. And the only reason why I let them do that, was because there was a small group of [guys] throwing up their middle fingers and like trying to throw stuff at me and I’m like, “Wow, you guys are that mad. Let me stop the show.”
I don’t take no disrespect. And trust me, there’s been s–t thrown at me, I’ve had those types of situations happen. This one just happened on camera, which is hella weird how it just got blown up. It just reminds me, you got to always do the right thing. What was I going to do? Call them some outrageous ass s–t? I’m not going to do all that bro, we’re just gonna sit in silence. Carti is not coming out until he’s coming out. So if it’s about to be forty five minutes of silence out here, y’all can play karaoke in this motherf–ker.
In the “Money” visual, you and Flo Milli are strutting down the yellow brick road. What made you guys go with The Wizard of Oz as inspiration?
Because when you think Wizard of Oz, the color green just stands out. Green is just super luxurious. Flo Milli is Dorothy, and I am the queen of the Emerald City [and] Glinda the Good Witch.
I feel like me being the good witch and her being Dorothy, like Flo is — I don’t want to say she’s new in this because she’s been doing this for a while, [but] people are just now finding out about her. Sometimes you just need somebody who’s going to guide you and be there for you, and that’s kind of what Glinda was for Dorothy throughout her whole journey. I think that’s what the sisterhood of female rap should be. The same s–t with Doja — we love each other, we support each other and it’s really good to have that genuine s–t. I wanted to capture that. I wanted to give some nostalgia, but aside from that, I really like the heaven scene and the scene with the snake.
What was it like working with Flo, being someone she looked up to in the game?
It was almost the same way I felt when Doja [Cat] hit me for “Tia Tamera.” It was like, “B—h, I grew up listening to you. You like my music? What the f–k is going on? And you’re f–king cool? This is rare, bro.” I just love all the women that I’ve worked with. I love Kali Uchis. I also love Jucee Froot and Baby Tate. I do a lot of shows with [Tate].
In this generation, it’s so different when someone is just so honest. “I love you, I’m influenced by you, I grew up listening to you” — like, it’s different when people are up front about it. It makes me feel like I f–king love you — you came from writing raps in your bedroom to doing festivals, just like me. You couldn’t ask your mom for money, probably [because] mom didn’t have it. Growing up in a place where people don’t make it and you f–king made it out, just like me. How do you describe watching people become millionaires? It’s beautiful. How do you describe watching people [go] from doing clubs or doing small tours to doing big s–t? It’s an amazing feeling.
What has motherhood taught you in terms of your music career?
I feel like I understand when people make mistakes. I could wake up and [my son] punched me in my face. All my boy moms are going to die laughing, they know. Some days, I’ll wake up so abruptly that I’m just like — I’m not even going to clap back. If anything, having a child really shows you people do childish things. Not everybody is f–king perfect. People make mistakes. People say mistakes. I remember the first time he ever cursed.
What was the word?
You don’t want to know.
But I really do.
It was “b—h.” I was like… “Whoa!” He was like, two. It was when “Smack a B—h” came out, he were playing it all the time. He was playing with his toys and I just overheard that s–t. I say “don’t say that,” and he looked at me like I was crazy. [Laughs.]
Because of me correcting him, he gets creative. Have you seen Norbit? One day I ain’t have my wig on, my hair was in a little afro and my son said, “Why do you look like Rasputia?” He’s crazy, ruthless.
There are mosh pits at your shows — how do you keep things under control?
You build a sympathetic and aware fan base. I feel like they look out for each other. I can’t really say nothing besides the little messages I give them before the show — like, “Drink water and wear your platform [shoes]. No heels.” I got to let them know what they’re getting into. But I mean, for the most part, I think my music is for the girls. So a lot of times the guys kind of step back and are like, oh s–t look at these b—hes go!
You’re touring with Carti — any collabs in the works?
For right now, we’re just learning how to be on the road together. I haven’t been on tour in a long time. Most of the time, I’m in my room getting my makeup done and we might see each other after, but we have other shit to do. I have club [events] and then I’m [at festivals] and he’s not, and our schedules haven’t met up yet, other than smoke sessions, chill s–t.
You recently did a Spanglish collab with Kali Uchis. Any more collabs coming up in the Latin world?
Have you ever heard of Snow Tha Product?
Well, her fans are spamming my shit, telling me to link with her. I don’t know if they do this to everybody, but if they’re speaking specifically to me, I would love to collab. I think she’s fire. I definitely want to do more songs in Spanish.