There's a lot to be said about Chicago hip-hop artists. For one, the spectrum is wide: While those like Chance The Rapper, Common and Lupe Fiasco cover more socially conscious route, many others have taken to drill, a music scene ringing with violence and hood tales of those who were given no choice but to succumb to the turbulent street lifestyle.

Chi-Town rap artists Bump J and Lil Les were on the rise when both were imprisoned on separate charges—Bump was released in April 2017, while Les remains behind bars on a 12-year sentence. Both had an impact on the town's raw, slick-mouthed rapper Rico Recklezz, who jumped into the studio after seeing the success of his fellow hometown natives Edai, Chief Keef and Lil Durk. His music paints a vivid image of Chicago's rugged Southside, while his jaw-dropping diss tracks—and their accompanying visuals—have given new meaning to the term "reckless."

Though Rico blew up in Chicago for tracks like "Famous" and a series of mixtapes (Recklezz Conduct, Grand Theft Auto and Rico Don't Shoot Em), he didn't gain nationwide acclaim until he dropped his 15-track mixtape, Big Recklezz, in December 2017. According to Rico, the illustrated cover—which includes Rico holding baby bottles while Blac Youngsta, Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, Lil Uzi Vert and 21 Savage sit in a crib—wasn't created to diss the artists. Instead, it was meant to assert his own authority in the rap game. "And the baby bottles filled with lean because I’m putting they ass to sleep," he tells XXL. "I’m Big Recklezz, I’m the muthafuckin' dad around this bitch."

"It’s crazy, every artist [the designer] put on the cover I had to rub shoulders with," Recklezz continues. While Blac Youngsta saw it as comical, others weren't fazed in the slightest. "Lil Uzi [Vert], I saw him and he kinda got in his feelings. 21 Savage sent me a message then unsent it, then had ManMan Savage call me and say, ‘Man, I don’t have no problems with y’all. I fuck with y’all.’ And I fuck with them, too. It wasn’t like that."

Upon getting to know the charismatic Rico Reckless, one will realize there's no malice in his heart. His bars are designed to rap along, his energy is infectious and his personality explodes with every joke and comment he spews. Reckless? Sure, but as you peel back his layers and decipher his lyrics, Rico is simply a man hellbent on providing for his family and friends.

Learn more about Rico Recklezz in XXL's latest installment of The Break.

Age: “26 and counting.”

Hometown: Chicago

I grew up listening to: “Bump J, Gucci Mane, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Eazy-E, Waka Flocka [Flame] and Yo Gotti.”

My style’s been compared to: “Everybody, ’cause I got bars but I’m still kicking that street shit. They always talking some 50 Cent shit, then they be like, 'This bitch can rap for real. This nigga’s like the real-life Tupac out here.'”

Most people don’t know: “I read more than I do a lot of shit. When I get bored, I just roll me up a fat-ass Backwood and get to reading. Sometimes I be reading for so long, the whole day will pass by and my bitch ass still in there reading. I don’t even answer my phone. I just let everybody call while I read.”

My standout moment to date: “When I made this song called ‘Famous,’ because prior to that they was like, ‘This nigga can’t rock the bell.’ At the time, I was doing a little theory about Chicago music. I was getting 400,000-700,000 views, but they just didn’t go to a million. And I used to say my shit didn’t go to a million because I didn’t make a diss song. Everybody from my city who ever reached a million views—besides Chance The Rapper—probably made a diss song to get it, ’cause that’s how the city feeds. It feeds off negativity. So I was showing somebody once I make a diss song, I bet my shit go right to a million. My shit hit a million the first day. Then I went back and made a singing song and hit a million right back. So now what you gotta say? To me that was kinda like a shut-the-fuck-up moment.”

My goal in hip-hop is: “I wanna be just like this guy right here [points to poster of Snoop Dogg]. The way he came out—he fought a murder case, beat a murder case, changed his whole life around, did the music and dedicated his life to his kids, made sure they was straight and gave back. I just wanna be here forever. Twenty years from now you gon' catch me at the BET Awards with some old dreads getting honored for some shit. Even if I’m not, I’m just there high as hell watching the young ones, and I’m still getting saluted. I just wanna be in the game long, but I also wanna push my own label, Renegade Records."

I’m going to be the next: “Michael Jackson, because nobody is bigger than Michael Jackson. Elvis’ cool, but he wasn’t Michael Jackson. And I’m Michael Recklezz Jackson, how I beat it make ya moonwalk on ya hoe real quick. Billie Jean that’s not my son, what is she gon' do if she could be the one, ya feel me?”

Follow Rico Recklezz on Twitter and Instagram.

Standouts: Big Recklezz


"Hit Em Up"

"The Safe"

"No Talking"


"Jail Thoughts"

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