Rico Nasty is one of the industry’s brightest genre benders, infusing hip hop with a clear grunge, punk rock agency. Her gritty and boisterous vocals are second only to her signature “maximalist” style, as described in the fashion world. But her larger than life persona comes out of humble beginnings.
The 23-year-old rapper, model and actress stumbled into music success when she got pregnant her senior year of high school. The father of her son encouraged her to write rhymes and has documented her journey to megastardom — from her international tours or a look into her parenting style to manifesting working with her role model Rihanna — all on her YouTube channel.
In honor of the talent being featured in REVOLT Summit x AT&T’s “Top of the Class” workshop during this weekend’s “Summit Saturdays” installment, here are seven facts to know about this game-changing rapper, who is well on her way to the top.
1. She’s from the DMV.
Rico Nasty was originally born Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly in Brooklyn, NY, but relocated to Prince George’s County, Maryland. She feels it’s an honor to make it out.
In one interview she said: “I think that it takes a lot of creativity to come out of the DMV and get some recognition.” In another, she described the area as a place where everyone is “always trying to pull each other down.” Regardless of her experience, she still reps the area with pride and helps to define the culture: “We got the mambo sauce, we got the Go Go. If you don’t bump Go Go then you not from the DMV,” she said.
2. Her father was a rapper too.
Before Rico Nasty knew she wanted to be a musician, she explored her creativity through words with the encouragement of her parents. Her mother pushed her toward poetry, but her father was actually a rapper first. His stage name was Beware and he even went on tour with Jadakiss before he landed in some trouble that sent him to prison for a few years.
When he got out, his daughter had already taken on the family business and released her Summer’s Eve mixtape. His reaction was pride and amazement. She recalled the emotional, tear-filled exchange in an interview: “I can’t believe while I was gone, this wasn’t something that I had to instill in you. It was something that you just had. I didn’t have to coach you. I didn’t have to find you a studio. You just had the hunger to go and record like any artist,” she recalled him telling her.
3. She loves anime and painting.
The star’s artistic expression doesn’t end there. She’s also a lover of mixed media arts and enjoys painting. She credits one teacher, in particular, to exposing her to her first arts festival while in high school. She also credits her mother’s best friend’s daughter, Stephanie, for turning her on to anime. “As she was getting older and becoming more of an adult, she started giving me [everything]. I had all the ‘Naruto,’ a little bit of ‘Dragon Ball Z,’ I had ‘Chobits,’ I got into ‘Hello Kitty’ really bad, and then my whole life was just consumed by anime,” she said in an interview. This is an influence we can see in her creative music videos and makeup today.
4. She’s influenced by rockstars.
Her sound is so unique because of the clear influence of punk and grunge music because she’s not a poser, genuinely loves the genre. Rico credits Joan Jett, frontwoman of rock band Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. While Jett is maybe best known for rock staple, “I Love Rock N’ Roll,” the rapper came to love her music from watching the Shrek film as a child. “I love her so much!” Rico once said. Rihanna and Avril Lavigne are also huge inspirations for the young punk rapper.
5. She’s a fashion influencer.
As an undeniable rule-breaker and trendsetter, it was only a matter of time until the fashion industry caught on. Rico’s dream of meeting her idol Rihanna was only one-upped when she received a care package from the Bajan mogul’s Fenty high-end line. In no time, she became one of the faces of Rihanna’s lingerie line Savage x Fenty, and walked in her Amazon-exclusive fashion show this month!
What’s a look without a good beat? Rico Nasty’s daring and bold eye makeup looks caught the eye of sustainable beauty brand Il Makiage, who presented her with a collection collaboration. The “Sugar Trap” rapper has her very own eye makeup pallet showcasing exciting and vibrant colors to help her fans become showstoppers, too.
6. She can rap in Spanish.
Born to a Puerto Rican mother and African father, for years Rico Nasty’s diverse ethnic background had been secondary. That is until she linked up with fellow DMV artist Kali Uchis for a feature. In Rico’s verse on “Aquí Yo Mando,” you can hear the rapper spit bars in both English and Spanish — a first that fans, as well as members of her family, were dying for. In an interview, Uchis recalled helping Rico write the verse since she doesn’t speak fluid Spanish. Rico also recalled the reaction some of her cousins had. “We’ve been trying to teach you Spanish for years!” she said they told her, proud to feel so welcomed by her Latinx loved ones.
7. She’s a mother.
As a senior in high school, Rico Nasty fell in love with her classmate Brandon. Admittedly, she’d spend nights at his place and wake up to breakfast prepared by his mother. She found out she was pregnant and they were both so excited, but before the child was born, the father died from a sudden asthma attack. After a bout with depression, she found the courage to lean into her music more and take it seriously because that’s what he wanted for her, she shared in a Vlog on her YouTube channel.
Her son Cameron, who’s now 5, thinks she’s the best rapper ever. He’s her litmus test for whether a song is a hit or not. “If the songs ain’t good, he’ll tell me. He’ll get up and dance his ass off to the whole song as soon as the beat drops. It’s so cute,” she said.