- Gov't Name: Maria Kelly
- Age: 24
- Reppin': Largo, Md.
- Twitter: @RICO_NASTYY
- Instagram: @RICONASTY
- Notable Releases: Singles: “Smack a Bitch,” “Countin’ Up,” “Poppin,” “Trust Issues,” “Roof”; Mixtapes: Sugar Trap, Sugar Trap 2, Tales of Tacobella, Nasty, Anger Management with Kenny Beats
- Label: Sugar Trap/Atlantic
- Currently Working On: As-yet-titled major label debut album due later this year.
- Surprised About Who Is Missing: “Of course I wish Q Da Fool was here. His shit cray. Everybody listens to his shit.”
- Influenced by: “I love Rihanna. She’s a bad bitch and a businesswoman. She’s the best. I love Beyoncé. I feel like Beyoncé is the final form of a person. Like, you gotta get to your Beyoncé stage in life. That’s your final form as a human. Tyler, The Creator [and] Earl Sweatshirt. I also like Missy Elliott and Eve. [They’re] fire, too.”
- As a Freshman in High School: “I got expelled from high school my freshman year. For smoking weed. I’m smoking weed right now. I got expelled, but I still kept going to school. [Then] I went to public school. [Before that,] I was going to boarding school. I feel like freshman year I [was] super out of place. I was so excited and then I was a weirdo, but I feel like that’s how it is for everybody.”
TRUTH ON BEING AN XXL FRESHMAN: “My publicist told me [I was going to be a Freshman] on FaceTime. I was at a show at the University of Santa Barbara. I remember I was flat-ironing my hair. I was curling my hair and I had a sew-in. I was looking in the mirror and [my publicist] was like, ‘Where is she? Where is she? Where is she?’ Then Malik [my manager] was like, ‘She’s right here.’ And then I was like, ‘What? What do you want? I’m just trying to get dressed for a show.’ Then she told me. And I cried, of course. I cried.
Why did I cry? ’Cause I’m the first girl from the DMV to get XXL. I feel like I’m very happy for my hometown right now. It’s two of us on here. YBN Cordae is from the DMV, too. So, I’m really happy about that. I’m just really happy that my influence is acknowledged. That shit feels good.
It means to me that greater things are ahead, you know? XXL means big so I feel like we just going bigger. I remember Shy Glizzy made the [2015 XXL Freshman] cover, but of course the biggest one was when Lil Yachty made the cover. I remember watching that and was like, Oh shit, this is fire. I think it was the cyphers. I always watch the cyphers. Even last year with J.I.D, I watch the cyphers.
It’s the time to [put more women on the cover]. I feel very optimistic. I feel very open to trying new things. I feel like we are making a force not just in a lane. We’re making like, a task force. It’s a certain type of culture and I’m just happy that I get to be part of it. Like, I love the fashion part. I love the fact that for real, for real, everybody got their own swag.
[When I see the cover] I’m probably going to shit on myself. I don’t know. Fuck. I don’t know what I’m going to do. That’s gonna be crazy. I’m gonna show my mom.
[My fans], I feel like they’re gonna be gassed. They’re gonna be super, super, super happy. But at the same time, I don’t know what they expect of me anymore. I feel like I always surprise them. I just hope they’re ready. It’s lit. It’s so crazy. I don’t think they think I got [the cover] ’cause I tweeted, ‘Vote for me.’
I think the biggest part of my growth so far is being able to keep track of shit, for real, ’cause I’ve been traveling so much recently and it’s been so hard to keep track of my stuff.
I would also say my lyricism got way better. When you hear the delivery on ‘iCarly’ and even ‘Hey Arnold’ versus ‘Key Lime OG’ and ‘Poppin.’ And then ‘Key Lime OG’ and ‘Poppin’ versus ‘Trust Issues’ and ‘Rage.’ It’s like, What the fuck?! What’s going on?”
RICO NASTY'S 2019 XXL FRESHMAN INTERVIEW
Welcome to the Sugar Trap, Rico Nasty's world of sublime rap and punk rock flair. The newly minted 2019 XXL Freshman has created a world where painting geometric designs on her face, donning a leather harness with a pair of spiky Crocs to complete the ’fit and decorating her hair with a sea of neon beads is the norm. And that's just the fashion element. Add in the most important factor, her frenzied, sanguine-laced rhymes, and she's a rap rock star ready to roll.
On her way up the hip-hop hierarchy, the Largo, Md. native had music on the brain from an early age. Rico, a self-described "weirdo" in school, started rapping in the 10th grade—right before she got expelled from high school for smoking weed. While she admits she felt "super out of place" in school, hip-hop allowed her to express the creative chaos that was consuming her brain.
Subsequently, she unleashed her first mixtape, Summer's Eve, a 2014 project she readily admits was trash. To her own credit, when Rico released 2016's Sugar Trap, the effort that introduced her playful yet untamed sound to the world, it was clear this woman was set for stardom. A gun-toting, smirking Rico nestled beside teddy bears, a horse and a lollipop on that mixtape cover was one of the earliest visuals showcasing she was much different than the rest.
Songs like "Smack a Bitch," a raging, guitar-riddled anthem, "Countin' Up," a nod to N.O.R.E.'s classic "Superthug" and "Poppin'," a charged-up banger, prove she's got fire bars and indelible lyrics to match. And don't even sleep on the visuals. She's a sugar trap goddess descending upon a different dimension in the video for "Roof" and her "Guap (LaLaLa)" clip finds her going cuckoo in the hospital as a glammed-up version of herself gives the OK to sedate her. With music influences ranging from pop star powerhouses to respected MCs, it's no surprise Rico's aesthetic combines a unique mix of grunge and glamour.
“I love Rihanna," the 24-year-old rapper born Maria Kelly shares. "She’s a bad bitch and a businesswoman. She’s the best. I love Beyoncé. I feel like Beyoncé is the final form of a person. Like, you gotta get to your Beyoncé stage in life. That’s your final form as a human. Tyler, The Creator [and] Earl Sweatshirt. I also like Missy Elliott and Eve. [They’re] fire, too.”
Rico Nasty is aware of her potential. Lyrics from her 2017 track "Key Lime OG" are indicative of that sentiment: "Bitch, I been the flame, I just need a lighter." With six mixtapes in the span of five years—Summer's Eve (2104), The Rico Story (2016), Sugar Trap (2016), Tales of Tacobella (2017), Sugar Trap 2 (2017), Nasty (2018) and Anger Management with Kenny Beats (2019)—and over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the Nasty Mob are tuned in. Now, the Atlantic Records signee is focused on crafting her major label debut album. Trap Lavigne, one of Rico's many sobriquets, is just getting started.
"I feel like what I'm bringing to the table that's different is like not just consistency in the music but consistency in the creativity, consistency in the visuals, in the fashion, participation with the fans and things that I give them and merch and stuff like that," the rap quaintrelle explains. "And I'm very active with them. I don't wanna say that my shit is like, Oh my god, no one's ever heard it before or whatever, ’cause everyone's probably already heard all the shit that everyone's talking about, but I just feel like my shit just helps you get your shit off." Get ready to rage.
Becoming a 2019 XXL Freshman is surreal for Rico. She fondly recalls fellow DMV rapper Shy Glizzy earning a spot in the 2015 XXL Freshman class while Lil Yachty's 2016 induction was the most memorable in her eyes. Now it's her turn. As one of three women on the cover this year, which is a first for the brand, she's part of a pivotal change in hip-hop. Ladies run this.
"I feel like being a 2019 XXL Freshman is just, it's important for me because not too many women can say they've... gotten anything like this, not too many people from where I come from can say that they've gotten anything like this," Rico explains. "And I'm just really happy to be a part of a change because I notice that we have more women on there this year. And I'm just ready to see what the fuck happens, man."
Staying motivated in this game isn't easy. Rico has endured roadblocks in her career like many artists, but dwelling on the negativity only blocks the blessings. She battles life's pitfalls with creative optimism.
"I feel like what motivates me is what would motivate the regular average person," the "Trust Issues" rhymer says. "My family motivates me, my friends motivate me, my kid motivates me, shit that I been through in life that I got over motivates me ’cause if I can get through that then I can get through this. Everything's a journey though. Everything's a battle. Not every day is good, but today's a good day." Ice Cube would be proud.
Watch Rico Nasty discuss her journey to becoming a 2019 XXL Freshman up top.
See Photos of Rico Nasty Behind the Scenes at the 2019 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot
RICO NASTY’S 2019XXL FRESHMAN FREESTYLE
Rico Nasty is no rap neophyte. With six mixtapes released over the last five years—Summer's Eve (2104), The Rico Story (2016), Sugar Trap (2016), Tales of Tacobella (2017), Sugar Trap 2 (2017), Nasty (2018) and Anger Management with Kenny Beats (2019)—Trap Lavigne has been steady working. And that's all before a debut album has touched down. Her tireless work ethic, tempestuous raps and punk rock aesthetic have ultimately paved the glittery pink road to her success as a 2019 XXL Freshman. With this esteemed title comes high expectations that she can rap and Rico doesn't disappoint in her XXL Freshman freestyle.
Even before she lets off a bar, Rico looks like a trap warrior princess. Geometric designs decorate her face and brightly colored barrettes and beads adorn her hair. She's ready for lyrical war even if it means going up against herself. The 24-year-old Largo, Md. native is in this for the long-run as she expresses at the start of her freestyle. "You could ask about me, I ain't that lil' IG model rapper bitch that like to pop her lips/I'm the one that's poppin' shit/I'ma always apply the pressure while you be callin' quits/And you know it's 20 or better when I be walkin' in," she delivers with fervor.
The rap quaintrelle switches up flows and seemingly takes on a maniacal sneer as she fires off clear warnings in the span of a minute. The "Countin' Up" rapper may be the leader of the Sugar Trap, but right now, she's anything but sweet. "And you know I'm wit the shits so it's never a probably/We gon' get you, they won't get us, we gon' do it properly," Rico raps. "When they try to copy me they do that shit so sloppily/I ain't never wishin' on a star, my shit be guaranteed." Her self-confidence is on a trillion.
Armed with a major label deal with Atlantic Records a legion of fans dubbed the Nasty Mob, Rico's career is blooming with solid support in place. Now as a 2019 XXL Freshman, she's showcasing the lyricism and allure that earned her a spot in the class. Fittingly, she concludes her rhymes with an assertive flex: "I don't move like I got nothin' to prove ’cause I really do this shit, bitch."
Watch Rico Nasty in her 2019 XXL Freshman freestyle up top.
RICO NASTY’S ABCs
Rappers like Rico Nasty rely on easy-breezy vocabulary to get straight to the point in their rhymes. Lyrics like "Don't come out the house unless I'm wearin' something whimsical/From where I made it out, they lookin' at me like a miracle" on "Cheat Code" and “Try to box me in, I don't need no oxygen/You could leave me to die, I was born to win" on "Mood" prove she's putting substance behind her rhymes without using complicated syntax. For XXL’s ABCs series, the Sugar Trap leader delivers a similar approach while bringing her vibrant personality to the table for some quick word association. The end result? Rico's highly amusing.
Kicking off with the letter A, the 2019 XXL Freshman goes straight off the dome to produce the word anatomy. Next up for B, Rico opts for bussy, a sex-related term widely used by gay men. "If you don't know what it is, look it up," Rico whispers.
Once she hits C and D, the chaos in Rico's mind seemingly ensues with picks of catastrophe and destroy, respectively. Then her love for the sticky green produces the word high when the letter H arrives and K finds her name-dropping Khalifa Kush, Wiz Khalifa's weed strain. Michael Jordan even gets a shout-out on J, complete with a slam dunk move for emphasis.
Rico's comedic side shines with the letter P. "Pussy, obtuse pussy," she says with a laugh, combining the angular word she also shared for the letter O. And she excels in her grasp of the planets with Uranus and Venus for U and V, respectively.
Hit play up top to watch Rico Nasty show love to Wiz Khalifa and Michael Jordan, flex her knowledge of the solar system and more in XXL’s ABCs.
BLUEFACE, YBN CORDAE AND RICO NASTY'S 2019 XXL FRESHMAN CYPHER
California and Maryland are about as far away from each other on the U.S. map as two states can be, but for 2019 XXL Freshmen Rico Nasty (Largo, Md.), Blueface (Los Angeles) and YBN Cordae (Suitland, Md.), hip-hop is the tie that binds.
The trio were grouped together for the cypher and roundtable segments of the Freshmen process and appeared to share a friendly chemistry despite never working together. The quickly-established unity makes for an interesting cypher round.
“I ain’t never asked for a handout, but I came up now everybody got they hand out/I just got my truck matte red with the five percent tint and the rims blacked out,” she snaps. “Every nigga round me going to black out/Put the pussy on a nigga, make him tap out/Just say where and my nigga pop out/If you don’t get the picture, they gon’ carve you out.”
Blue and Cordae jokingly bust out The Woah dance in the background while she goes off.
YBN Cordae gets a beat switch for his turn up to bat, which is slightly slower. The GRAND-produced beat gives the “Bad Idea” rapper a chance to get his bars off loud and clear while Blue punctuates the rhymes with ad-libs. Cordae even cleverly finds a way to sprinkle both of his cypher partners’ name into his raps.
“Dump my old bitch ’cause she was too basic/Now my girl claiming that I’m too racist/’Cause I don’t really like green, only blue faces,” he spits. “Whole outfit new to the shoelaces/They say that he so classy, but I just want to be poppin’ like Rico Nasty.”
Blueface tags in last and swags over the track with his satisfyingly unorthodox flow. “Double XL, just went stupid/If he trippin’, he fallin', stupid/Drop-top Martin, no Lawrence, my shit roofless/I need a Kim Possible to play with my Rufus,” the "Thotiana" rapper rhymes. “Famous crip, if I pull up, then she blue it/Hate to be my ex because she salty like some Lucas/No time for nonsense, I need a deposit/I wanted to be rich instead of regular, so I left college."
Watch Rico Nasty, Blueface and YBN Cordae’s 2019 XXL Freshman Cypher above.
BLUEFACE, YBN CORDAE AND RICO NASTY'S 2019 XXL FRESHMAN ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW
The XXL Freshman process can feel like an “I made it” moment, with a full day of interviews, photoshoots and more interviews, the likes that some artists in the class have yet to previously experience. Rico Nasty, Blueface and YBN Cordae are grateful to have been inducted into the 2019 XXL Freshman class, but they refuse to rest on their laurels.
The trio, who also participated in the cypher together, are additionally tag-team partners in the roundtable discussion. They seem to enjoy the collaborative aspect of the day. “It’s really just dope, more so seeing the other Freshmen, because, like, I’m still a fan, at the end of the day, of the XXL Freshman class and of the artists as well," says YBN Cordae. "So, it’s really dope to like, ‘Oh shit, he’s on it.’ So, it’s really dope, just to mingle with everybody and get vibe.”
Rico Nasty adds, “Every year, [XXL] really points out whose been poppin' big shit throughout the year; creatively, fashion-wise. All the artists have one component or all of them, and that shit is like super fire seeing everybody get together.”
The situation causes Cordae to recall a previous time meeting Rico. “It’s a crazy coming of age moment,” he recalls. “I was in the studio with Rico like three years ago. We was going to the same studio, like three to four years ago. This is when she was like poppin' locally and I was just like 200 followers. I was on some fan shit. Then just to see her increase like every year and we both on here this year, it’s gon’ mean a lot for Maryland and the whole DMV.”
“Y’all been doing this for years,” he says. “So, it’s good to be a part of the history, get your foot in. Hopefully, we stay in.”
Along with the benefits of earning a spot (Blueface: “More watches, more chains, more bitches, more money, more sneakers”), Rico admits there is some pressure to being one of the chosen ones.
“It feels like everything you do now has to be double-XL, you know, triple-XL,” she adds. “You gotta be big. You gotta go big or go home from here on out.”
Check out Rico Nasty, Blueface and YBN Cordae’s 2019 XXL Freshman roundtable discussion above.