Rico Nasty takes you on her ‘Nightmare Vacation’

Photo of Rico Nasty's new album, "Nightmare Vacation"
Atlantic Records/Courtesy

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Grade: 3.5/5.0

Don’t listen to Rico Nasty unless you’re ready to fight someone. Her new album, Nightmare Vacation, lets listeners forget reality in its 39-minute run. Listeners are instead thrust into an all-expenses-paid trip into the inner workings of Rico Nasty’s mind. She delivers a high-energy enthusiasm that will have listeners ready to smack a bitch by the end of its listen.

For the most part, Nightmare Vacation stays consistent with Rico Nasty’s familiar sound. It is heavy metal-influenced, consisting of pulsing electric bass and dense percussion that endanger eardrum safety. In the majority of the album’s tracks, she tries to embody every ounce of electric energy she’s capable of. From the intense instrumental, to lyrics that are two parts rant, one part death threat, Rico Nasty weaves a work rife with complicated examinations at what it means to be authentically her.

Rico Nasty’s strongest point in this album is her lyricism. For the majority of Nightmare Vacation, she refuses to even entertain the idea of being just marginally happier. She aims for high-value excellence only. Rico Nasty knows exactly what she wants, whether it be in relationships, finances or her p—’s ferocity, and isn’t waiting around for it to be handed to her. “I make my own cash, so can’t nobody tell me/ What to spend,” she proudly exclaims in “Candy.” Even in “STFU,” in which Rico Nasty tells listeners to “shut the fuck up” for most of the song, she still has gems buried here and there. “You all on my ass, you got shit on your lip,” she proudly points out.

Rico Nasty has multiple collaborators on this album but is never overshadowed by the bravado of her male counterparts. In “Don’t Like Me,” featuring Don Toliver and Gucci Mane, both Gucci Mane and Rico Nasty rap “These bitches don’t like me/ Your girl wanna come and ride me.” Listeners can’t help but give in to the fact that if their girlfriends had to choose anybody to practice sex positions with, Rico Nasty is simply the more convincing choice.

In “Let It Out,” Rico Nasty is tired of being disrespected. The song is imbued with the freedom that all women try to embody as boldly as she raps. Rico Nasty cleverly subverts all the times people tried to hurt her and throws it back in their faces. “I’m a asshole, what the fuck’s new?” Rico Nasty howls. She doesn’t hesitate to remind listeners, “If it’s fuck me, then it’s fuck you,” or give the crowning advice that when provoked, simply, “Punch ‘em in the mouth.”

The most striking thing about her sound is that she’s able to be sugary sweet one moment before diving headlong into her signature, bass-boosted trap sound. She flits between the two extremes for a whiplash effect. It’ll leave you dizzy, but really, it’s your fault for not being able to keep up. “Girl Scout” starts off with Rico Nasty’s vocal cord-busting screams, but she pushes herself to subdue the effect, emphasizing her warning that she’ll “pull up with the chopper, then I air it out.”

Surprisingly, Nightmare Vacation finds strength in experimentation. Rico Nasty’s chaotic sound proves to be repetitive on longer, extended tracks. On the other hand, “Loser” is calm, beginning with a few notes strung on an acoustic guitar and a Regina George reference. On an initial listen, it sounds more fitting to belong on a more rebellious Brandy Melville frequenter’s playlist than on a Rico Nasty album. “Back and Forth,” featuring artist Aminé, deviates far from the album’s themes of empowerment. Instead, it’s an R&B leaning track that revels in a toxic relationship, setting boundaries that both artists intend to be broken in the end. While thematically, it doesn’t mesh well with the album’s other songs, sonically, the diversity in sound makes it one of the more memorable songs.

Nightmare Vacation goes to show that Rico Nasty hasn’t quite figured out the balance to build on her sound to bring something fresh. It does, however, continue to carve out her unique space in between genres. Truly, the most important takeaway from the album is that the rest of the world needs to “shut the fuck up.” It’s Rico Nasty’s turn to speak — and you’re just going to listen and follow along for the ride.

Contact Kelly Nguyen at [email protected].