WORDS: MIA BESORIO
In her performative state, Rico Nasty is an unapologetic, all out rager. She provokes a similar energy from her fans with her charged-up mixtapes and the mosh pits at her shows. The spaces Rico creates are momentarily turbulent, but when the rush subsides and down time ensues, a softer, maternal side surfaces.
Rico was forced to mature rapidly in her final year of high school, as she mourned the tragic loss of her partner, best friend, and father of her soon-to-be son. Her story of grief has been told, but still unwritten is the story of unconditional love between Rico and her son. It became her duty of care to protect and provide for them both in a time of adversity. It was clear then that music was more than just a coping mechanism for her grief—it became her purpose.
A star by all means, yet a traditionally unlikely icon, Rico’s style is reminiscent of punk heroes past, mixed in with a splash of Monster High. She’s the type of girl who you would find on a tee at Hot Topic, and then find loitering around IRL at that very same mall. Rico does not need our validation, but she’s gracious as hell to have it. She’s a perpetual badass who isn’t about to settle for the mediocre. The universe taught her early that nothing worth fighting for would come easy, so her single-minded proposition is just that; to keep on fighting until the bitter end.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of ‘original fakes’ and this peak saturation point in culture that we’re currently in, where everything is borrowed and influenced to some degree. Yet despite this, you somehow still manage to spin everything in a distinctive Rico way. It’s like you’re bootleg, but you own it.
I take shit and make it mine. I live my life to a standard that other people don't like. That's what I'm going to do, and no one's going to fucking stop me. The reason that it's so hard for people to find originality is because they are so afraid to do their own thing - like everything is trendy, and is just like what you see on Instagram. When you live like that, you miss out on a lot of cool opportunities.
Do you have a stylist or do you style yourself?
I styled myself on my last tour.
It’s much easier for stylists to do a great job when artists know what their aesthetic is.
Stylists come through with crazy drip, so I just have to be down for trying stuff that I wouldn’t normally wear. I’ve learned that even if an item of clothing doesn’t look amazing on the rack, it will look much better once you put it on. Sometimes I’ll prep my stuff at night, lay my potential fits on my bed, and then I’m just like “Ugh, where is all my cute stuff?” But then when I put the looks on, it’s all about channelling confidence. If I’m having a shitty day, I don’t think about it as much if I’m wearing a super cute outfit.
I literally own so many black t-shirts, I don’t know how I’m meant to pull together a fit. I listened to a lot of punk music when I was growing up, so I naturally default to that look.
I’m the same. Growing up with punk music has influenced my fashion choices a lot.
I love how DIY punk culture is, and how resourceful the mindset is. You have to be creative by making your own products or thrifting—it’s not just about buying something ready-to-wear off the rack. Do you thrift much?
Yes I do. I always feel challenged when I go thrifting because I feel like I’m forced to find some fire shit. I’m not looking for something defined—like a vintage tee or jeans—I’m trying to find the wackiest patterned hoodies and the weirdest shit that will catch someone’s eye.
It’s like one big fashion sketch show when I go thrifting, I cop all the stuff that people normally don’t pick up. I have four hoodies and a jacket that I wear all the time that I got from thrift stores. Every time I wear them, people ask where I got them from, and I would never tell them. But now I have my own Depop shop, and it’s lit.
What do you think about people being inspired by you and your style? Now that you’re in this celebrity sphere, there will inevitably be young girls out there trying to look like you.
It used to piss me the fuck off. It would make me so mad, because I came up with all this shit on my own and now all these people were just running with it. But now, I love it. I mean, how do you think Rihanna feels?
I like going out to parties, and seeing how many people are directly copying something that I’ve worn. I love it when people come to my shows literally all dressed just like me—it’s like a Halloween contest. I want people to keep looking like me because it means that we are truly in the time of the Nasty. It is an epidemic, and that’s a really good sign.
I always felt connected to your music, but it was when I saw your videos that I realised that you remind me of my friends. That familiarity and energy will always attract like minded people to you. As you said, you’ve got an epidemic on your hands, and it’s bringing all of us together, so we can be powerful in numbers.
I’m happy you feel that way, because that’s really why I do it. That’s why I keep pushing the boundaries of being an “adult” and unapologetically doing whatever you want. I feel like there’s not a lot of people [who] can gravitate to that kind of high, but when you’re in that vibe, it doesn’t matter how old you are. I do feel like I still just dress like a teenage girl.
It’s weird how cyclical everything is, and all the feelings that you’ve felt in your life—like love and rage—that shit never goes away. The next generation is going to feel those same feelings, and they will find new ways to express themselves through music, art, and style.
I always think about what life is going to be like for the women who listen to my music today, or a girl who heard their older sister play some of my songs and then later discovered me on her own. I wonder if they will listen to my music years from now and just be like, “Oh, that was a fucking time”.
And that’s so true. Different generations of people go through the same thing, and music will always be there to guide all the young ladies through all kinds of life conditions. It’s rough, and it’s hard out here as a woman. At least now we’re talking about it and there have actually been big social movements where people in really high positions are starting to be held accountable for their actions.
Well, they say that time changes culture, but human behavior is constant. Gen Z isn’t like every other youth generation that has happened prior, you have your own interpretation of culture.
I think that Gen Z are the ones who are going to change the world, because we’ve got platforms of our own. When I was growing up, I didn’t have much access to platforms where I could just say some shit, but now I can just get out there and make sure that I’m heard.
I just remember growing up and thinking that there can only be one woman in the game, and that I’d never be good enough. I don’t know how many women have those thoughts go through their heads. I’m just so happy that there are little girls out there that want to do music, who can look at all of us women now running shit, and not feel like there can only be one anymore.
Yes, we have to work harder than the boys, and we do that. It’s a free for all right now, times are changing. It’s no longer about waiting—the time is literally right now. We’re living in it, and five years from now, everyone is going to miss this time.
I just read Viv Albertine’s book, and she speaks in detail about being in The Slits, and about being a woman in a band in the ’70s and ’80s—it sounded well and truly fucked. Unfortunately, inequality still exists, but from what you’re saying, it sounds like we’ve made some progress. In every generation there are incremental changes, and for us, it’s been about generating discourse around diversity and equality.
I was talking to Gangsta Boo, and she was the only female in Three Six Mafia, so her story is fucking crazy. Nothing was given to you—you had to work, you had to earn, and you had to be smart. I can’t even imagine what the club used to be like back then, you had to be careful.
It’s wild to think about all of that retrospectively, and equally as wild to think about the future. People are predicting that the world will end in 2050 because of the climate change emergency. Do you feel optimistic about the future at all?
We’re all literally going to die.
Are you comfortable with your mortality? Being a mother, does it alarm you to think that your son may not have access to the simplest experiences, like smelling a real flower, or eating real vegetables?
It’s frightening, it’s depressing, and it’s scary. It’s the worst way to feel, and our parents didn’t have to think of this when we were born. I have to worry about what life is going to be like when my son is 30, because that’s all that is our reality right now. I hope that zombies attack, because at least that way it would be like natural selection, and he so wouldn’t be the guy who was supposed to die.
Also, maybe the government is just saying that the world is going to end? They have a lot of tricks up their sleeve, how the fuck would they even know? I think that they just want us to buy a bunch of shit to prepare for the world ending, even if it’s not. There’s been so many times when people have predicted that it would end on this day or that day, but it hasn’t yet.
That’s true, I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective. Like imagine if it really is just the government trying to make us even more capitalist, getting us to buy more instead of less.
It’s definitely a fear tactic. I mean that’s the type of shit that makes someone kill their kids or keep their kids in a fucking bunker. They watch you live in fear. But either way, I’m convinced that I’m going to part of the last few to live.
Well, there's all these conspiracies going around about Area 51 and aliens. What would you do if the aliens pulled up in a spaceship for your whole crew to just dip out to a new planet - would you accept the offer?
Hell yeah! It would be amazing just to look out the window, and see things I’ve never seen before.
Speaking of leaving this Earth, my biggest fear is leaving behind a really boring legacy. What are you most afraid of?
I'm really afraid of failing, and my biggest fear is accepting defeat. If I give it my all, then I’ll get back 110%. I would hate to look back and be like, fuck, I could’ve gone harder than that guy. I just know my personality is better than that. Like you should never accept defeat, and that's my only goal - to just do better.