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Rico Nasty @ The Granada: Exclusive Interview w/ KJHK

Last year, after accepting an invitation from KJHK and SUA, Rico Nasty emerged from a plumb of smoke at the Granada Theatre on Nov. 22. The crowd, packed from wall-to-wall, went wild. 

Rico Nasty, born Maria Kelly, is a rapper, songwriter, and record producer from Prince George’s County, Maryland. Having just released the mixtape “Anger Management” a few months prior,  Rico unleashed some of that direct and honest rage at the heart of Lawrance, KS. Her son Cameron, celebrating his fourth birthday, watched from backstage.

“He doesn’t really come to any of my shows,” Rico Nasty told KJHK after the show. “And I think he was confused, but he was happy. His reaction backstage was priceless. He started jumping up and down.”

Rico Nasty joined KJHK’s Kalekidan Yeshiwas and Benjamin Bloom to discuss family, the Grammys, fashion and more in a post-show interview. Hear the full conversation in the audio link, or read on for interview highlights.

On being an only child

Being the only child, I got a lot of my taste in music from my parents then, right? Most people would get their taste in music from their older brother or older sister…damn, that’s crazy, I never even thought about that. Though, I had this one cousin. I remember when Nicki Minaj came out and he was the first person to put me on to Nicki Minaj and just sang that all the time. My other cousin put me on Eminem… and like we weren’t supposed to be listening to it. So I guess they’re my siblings in a way and they could put me onto music. But other than that, I feel like I’m super independent. Because I’m the only child and you don’t really need a lot of people to help you. Your brain is just automatically on like “every man thinks for themselves.”

On being a touring artist and staying connected with family

It’s hard…unless you’re like Beyonce or something. I don’t know. You’re gone all the time. You may. But I don’t know. It’s not like I just blew up overnight, like they’ve seen me grow from a seed. So I feel like they treasure it just as much as I do like and when I’m gone they don’t hate me for it. But it’s hard to balance. Anybody who tells you they can, they probably can…but I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you that I’m doing that right now. It’s very difficult to do that…to be ‘Show! Show! Show!’ then come home and be with family. Cousins? Nah. Like immediate family like your mom? Yeah, that’s it. It’s rough.

On being a black woman navigating the punk scene

It feels almost surreal, because I always imagined, as a little girl…[would] just fantasize about being the girl from Guitar Hero or Avril Lavigne. I was so obsessed with it, and the fact that I evolved into just that — I don’t feel like I’m doing anything. It’s just like a day-by-day type thing. I don’t know how to describe it.

Thoughts about no female rappers being nominated as lead artists in the 2019 Grammys

I can speak for myself and like for like two other women maybe? I don’t know for sure, but I know that I didn’t drop anything that was Grammy award winning. I mean, Anger Management was like a collab project that we made with friends. I wasn’t expecting a Grammy from that I would expect the Grammy for my next project, you know what I’ve been working on for super long.

Lizzo got nominated! People don’t consider her a rapper, but I listened to her music and I think that she actually can be considered a rapper. So we got Lizzo. I wanted Lizzo to win for the rappers. She’s a rapper, and she was a rapper that day for me. 

I don’t know man, it’s the Grammys. I don’t mean to hurt nobody’s feelings and make nobody upset because I didn’t get nothing either. But it’s the Grammys. Yeah, you gotta work for that. Shout out to the people who didn’t really have to work that hard.

About her newest project

Like for the longest time ever since my career first started, I’ve been trying to find that balance with sugar trap — like blending the soft and hard. I feel like I really did a good job with it on this new project. We got some songs on there that’s just straight hard though. Like we got a couple melodic jumps, but maybe that’s what it is. The melodic ones are more catchy this time. 

On the intersection of music and fashion in the next few years

Oh my gosh, I don’t like predicting the future. It intimidates me because if I look back at this and I don’t do it, I’ll be really sad. I’ll probably do it though. In the future…I don’t know. Me and Cam want to be able to walk in a fashion show. I want to try that.I like to get a couple more covers, like fashion wise not like double XL or Fader…but like Dazed. I’ve always loved Dazed. So that would be fun. 

On her music hitting Tic Tok

These kids are creative. Somebody gotta teach me how to use Tik Tok.

Fuck, Marry, Kill: Fila Fisruptors, Air Force Ones, and Doc Martens

I’m going to kill the first one. The Filas. I had a pair of Filas on tour and I wore them once, and everyone made fun of me. I’m definitely going to fuck the Air Force Ones. You can’t go wrong. Had a show once and they were fresh the next day, and that ain’t bullshit.  And I’m definitely going to keep the Doc Martens because as you can see, I like my platform big boots. I mean, the name’s Rico Nasty. I like big ass boots.

Transcribed and edited by Fengxue Zhang. Audio edited by Karsan Turner.