Unlike the Chicago rapper CupcakKe, who has been a vocal advocate for her LGBTQ fans, the Maryland upstart Rico Nasty (born Maria Kelly) has been quieter on that front. But she’s gaining a large gay following since the release of her latest mixtape, Sugar Trap 2, and the exposure of her catchy AF tune “Poppin,” featured on HBO’s Insecure.
She calls her sound “sugar trap” — an offshoot of “bubble gum trap” — and has explained it as such: “It’s like when you have a really, really bad life and shit good starts happening and you don’t know how to adapt to the good shit.”
Her bio isn’t shy on bad shit. She discovered she was pregnant after her baby daddy had died. She gave birth to her son when she was 18, putting her nascent rapping career on hold for motherhood. She tried the straight life, but rap called back to her, and she answered the call willingly.
What’s amazing about Rico Nasty’s trajectory is how upbeat and positive her music is on Sugar Trap 2. She’s not taking any crap from anybody — first track “AR-15” makes that perfectly clear — but she’s also not afraid to be a little vulnerable from time to time. The breathy “La La Land Outro” makes her sound like the hip-hop little sister of the venerable alternative icon Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth.
Elsewhere, Rico Nasty is mouthy, bratty, bitchy and funny. Her ode to primo kush “Key Lime OG” is a standout. And the Labor Day party she attends on “White (feat. Famous Dex)” makes you wish you’d been invited.
Now get on the LGBTQ advocacy train, girl. Your fans await you.
The Rico Nasty mixtape Sugar Trap 2 is out now.
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