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Photo Credit: Rico Nasty

Black Punk: the ethereal evolution of Rico Nasty. (Op-Ed)

When you hear Rico Nasty’s signature call of “KENNY!” at the beginning of a track, you know you’re in for a treat. Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly, better known as Rico Nasty, is one of the most underrated, underhyped female rappers. I have been engrossed in her music since her early days on SoundCloud; this iconic pop-punk princess went from self-produced bangers to a stunning record deal with Atlantic Records. Despite her critical success, unique raspy vocals, cathartic screams, and clever rhymes, in late 2021 she was booed on stage in multiple cities while on tour with Playboi Carti. People threw things at her, treating her like trash. While Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B are widely respected as being the queens of rap, why is Rico Nasty consistently sidelined?

While Rico Nasty is known for her trap, rap, and hip-hop, her latest evolution is into the realm of pop-punk, trap metal, and nu metal. In her SoundCloud days, she was a “sugar trap” princess, with bubbly and upbeat tempos and vocals that still carried a bite. Her switch to a darker, edgier aesthetic is intoxicating, perfectly blending rap with punk and metal. She’s a maximalist fashion icon as well, with a nonconformist punk style and black makeup styles that pay homage to gothic icons such as Siouxsie Sioux. She is authentically herself, making Black Punk the latest fashion trend that will forever grace the ranks of punk subculture. Rest assured that she’s not all anger; Rico delivers some of the most emotional, vulnerable verses that will send chills down your spine.

Las Ruinas, her sophomore album, has both rap and metal fans in a chokehold. She proudly gives us the lines “Black punk / Black lipstick all over my fat blunt / Beat her face red, I ain’t talking ’bout blush / No exorcism, choppin’, get your head spun,” followed by a chanting sequence of “Black punk.” She is the leader of the movement, a sugar trap princess turned punk goddess who inspires the alternative black youth to be true to themselves and explore every facet of their identity.

On the hit single “Black Punk,” Rico told Kerrang!, “This song is for my weirdos who resonate with that sense of alienation that comes with being just who you are. I thought it was very important to acknowledge my black people, because they’re just starting to get acknowledged in the punk space. It’s a calling for them. If you resonate with this song, you might want to come to a show and find more people like you so you don’t feel so alone when you’re walking through the hallways blasting this song.”

While Rico Nasty is pioneering a new movement, she is not receiving the same kind of praise as other female rappers. She is a multi-genre artist and cannot be shoved into a cookie-cutter mold. She deserves the utmost respect; her legacy will live forever.

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