Rico Nasty’s ‘Anger Management’ is perfect chaos

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Grade: 4.0/5.0

When Rico Nasty released her mixtape Nasty last year, it was a triumph for the rap genre as a whole. With just a few years of performing under her belt, the 21-year-old artist has worked to redefine the industry with her genre-bending performances, superior lyricism and diverse stylistic choices. On April 25, Rico and her longtime producer, Kenny Beats, released their latest project, Anger Management — a perfectly chaotic amalgamation of the loud, angry, witty and eclectic influences that have defined Rico’s career thus far.

Anger Management feels like an obvious step in the trajectory of Rico’s career — but that isn’t to call it boring or predictable. The mixtape is Rico’s seventh release since the start of her music career in 2014, and with each mixtape, the artist’s maturity noticeably grows. Anger Management acts as the pinnacle of this growth. It explores many of the same themes as her past works — her fast-growing success, tough attitude and sex appeal — but with clever lyrics and hard-hitting beats, Rico makes it feel fresh and exciting.

The album is nine tracks long, running at just 18 minutes. With such a short runtime, every minute counts, and Rico plans to make use of this. Each song in Anger Management feels like an essential part of the work. The album begins with the raging, braggadocious “Cold,” in which Rico raps, “She can try but she don’t compete / When I pull up, you know it’s me / Ain’t none of these bitches cold as me.” Between Rico’s screaming ad libs and Kenny’s hard beats, “Cold” is the perfect introduction to the album — the charisma is clear and the energy feels endless.

This is followed by several other dynamic tracks including the equally forceful “Cheat Code,” a song that Rico uses to dismiss those who try to write her off. As she exclaims, “People keep tryna test my gangster . . . I don’t really got no patience,” she undoubtedly wards off anyone looking to copy her style. “Mood” is another track in the vein of her rager style with a blistering beat and powerful lyrics. In these tracks, Rico stays true to her rock-inspired roots — the heavy bass and loud beats developed in her career defining hits “Smack A Bitch” and “Rage” — and refines her revolutionary style, creating a wrathful, disorderly world for listeners who, like her, “don’t give a shit.”

On “Hatin” and “Big Titties,” Rico trades the heavy bass and metal influence for bouncy beats and swift lyrics. These songs are a testament to the artist’s range and prowess, as well as to her perfect chemistry with Kenny Beats. Despite the varying style of these tracks, they flow naturally in the scope of the album, proving Rico’s ability to bridge the gap between cohesiveness and diversity in her music.

“Relative” and “Sell Out” mark a turn toward more low-key beats and introspective lyrics. Using soul samples and soft backgrounds, Kenny creates a perfect backdrop for Rico to explore the more sensitive side of her music. In “Sell Out,” as Rico raps, “The expression of anger is a form of rejuvenation / I’m screaming inside of my head in hopes that I’m easing the pain,” she gives listeners an honest look into her style and personality. With this, Rico further defines her breadth and stylistic maturity; she knows how to balance her vitriol with tact and sensibility, and somehow she makes it work.

The album closes with the sing-songy “Again.” Atop a buoyant beat, Rico proudly proclaims, “I did it all on my own,” and we believe her. The rapper forced herself into the male-dominated hip-hop orbit, overcame adversity and killed the game on a level unmatched by most of her peers. In her most masterful work yet, Rico yet again proves herself as an artist. And yet again, listeners are left feeling satisfied, inspired and absolutely hyped.

Contact Salem Sulaiman at [email protected].