Rico Nasty's ‘Anger Management' Provides Space In Hip-Hop For Black Women To Celebrate Their Frustration
Rico Nasty's “Anger Management” puts Black women's angst at the center of hip-hop.
May 08, 2019 at 7:26 pm
Atlantic Records recording artist Rico Nasty starts off her latest album Anger Management by screaming about how cold she is over various experimental lo-fi beats, easily setting up the tone for the rest of the record. It's undeniably clear that Rico Nasty is upset, and Anger Management, her second collaboration project with producer Kenny Beats, is the playground through which she channels her rage.
Anger Management traces Rico Nasty’s journey through her own rage, while also debunking the societally constructed and imposed trope of “the angry Black woman,” a negative stereotype that’s historically been used against Black women in an effort to invalidate their frustrations with systemic racism and microaggressions. However, the female MC's unapologetic exploration of her anger throughout the album highlights the feeling of anger as a healthy, self-liberating process. It also illustrates how Black women can benefit from the personal development and growth that can occur when afforded the room to experience this very human, universally experienced emotion.
— TACOBELLA (@Rico_nastyy) April 25, 2019
On Anger Management, Rico Nasty analyzes her budding fame, haters and her commitment to her punk-influenced style. However, her unorthodox aesthetic isn’t anything new. From the critically acclaimed mixtape Nasty to earlier music releases, Rico Nasty’s style has presented a beautiful, sonically pleasing blend of rock, punk and rap. In fact, her 2017 heavy metal single "Smack a B***h" was her first project with producer Kenny Beats, providing an appropriate, rage-encompassing prelude to Anger Management.
YouTube | Rico Nasty
At the center of Anger Management is the rapper's own frustration. The tone of each song gradually progresses from angst and aggression to subdued and calm, creating a sensory arch that emulates the literal experience of processing anger after it's triggered. The album’s first track “Cold” begins with Rico Nasty yelling “Kenny!” at the top of her lungs. Rico Nasty uses her distinctive style to scream-rap about why she’s the “coldest” rapper out right now, and how she doesn’t care about haters constantly critiquing her eclectic style. Thrashing heavy metal beats soon emerge, as the rapper showcases some of the attributes that have helped to establish her as a unique force within the hip-hop scene: Loud ad-libs, lighthearted wordplay and an unlimited amount of charisma.
Conveying similar energy on the next song “Cheat Code,” Rico Nasty maintains her momentum as she extends a warning to those who want to start trouble with her. The song appropriately samples a soundbite from season three of Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta. To provide a bit of context, Rico Nasty’s sample was lifted from a conversation between castmates Erica Dixon and Ariane Davis, after a sex tape of fellow castmate Mimi Faust was allegedly leaked to the public. During their dialogue, Dixion and Davis express shock and outrage over the tape’s contents, while also doubting Faust’s claims that the intimate, homemade video had been stolen and released to the public without permission, as opposed to intentionally produced and shared.
“This is some professional — like — and this, this s**t is in different areas! What the f**k?! This ain’t no homemade s**t!” Dixon says, disgusted by what she believed was a setup driven ulterior motives of Faust and her then-boyfriend Nikko.
YouTube | Rico Nasty
After sampling Dixon’s comments, Rico Nasty interprets the exchange between Dixon and Davis as an example of hating throughout the lyrics of "Cheat Code," relating this iconic reality TV moment to how she addresses the haters encountered throughout her own career.
Rico Nasty responds to her haters again in the track titled “Hatin,” this time sampling the beat from Jay-Z’s classic single “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”
Rico Nasty got Erica Dixon and Jay-Z sampled on the same album. I stan. ????
— brie (@brieninetyfive) April 25, 2019
As she discusses her own experiences on "Hatin," the MC offers women an empowering lesson about how to ignore those men who may feel insecure or even be envious of their luxurious lifestyle. Rico Nasty leads by example when she proudly lists all of her accomplishments and encourages other women “boss b***ches” in their own lives and forget about the men who are jealous of their success and try to minimize the value of their accomplishments.
YouTube | Rico Nasty
As the album winds down, Rico Nasty turns her outward rage into self-reflection. "Sell Out," the album’s most introspective and somber track, highlights Rico Nasty’s rise to fame. Additionally, it discusses how she uses music as a way to channel the anger she experiences when people bombard her with polarizing, destructive criticism about her choice of creative expression and her artistic style and encourages others to do the same and stay true to themselves.
“The expression of anger is a form of rejuvenation/ I'm screaming inside of my head in hopes that I'm easing the pain/ Memories in my brain, thinkin' I'm going insane/ Everyone knowing my name but somehow I'm feeling the same,” Rico Nasty raps on the track. “Yeah, I might sell out but I ain't no sellout/ The kids stay around even though the doors let out/ 'Cause they just want to tell me about how I helped them out/ I won't let them down/ You guys are so strong and you don't even know it/ People hate you 'cause you're different and focused.”
By the end of the album, Rico Nasty has a full-circle moment, which is shared via the laid-back tones of “Again.” The concluding song of the album, Rico Nasty acknowledges how far she’s come in her career, how she was able to achieve so much all on her own, and how she has zero intention of letting her success get away from her anytime soon.
“But I did it all on my own, you dig?/ Might take a few steps, feel like I'm taking back six/ I just woke up to a check, you dig?/ Let me take a deep breath, I ain't going broke again,” the lyrics of “Again” proudly profess.
Overall, Rico Nasty’s genre-defying record offers Black women a well-deserved outlet for their aggravation by inviting all listeners to a cathartic space to channel their own fury. Although “the angry Black woman” stigma can frequently result in the emotional policing of Black women, reducing them to docile, emotionless figures, Rico Nasty's honesty and fearlessness directly confronts and challenges this concept by showcasing anger as a foundation for creative excellence. Rage isn’t characterized as a defect on Anger Management; it’s something worth celebrating. For Rico Nasty, in particular, this carefully crafted record appears to be the result of what can happen when frustration drives creative inspiration, as her own anger has so clearly served as a valuable source for her culture-defining rap aesthetic.
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