Rico Nasty Credit: Mario Kristian

Rapper Maria Kelly, better known as Rico Nasty, is transparent to a fault. When XXL recently asked her why she signed to Atlantic, she said, “Because I have a 2-year-old. And these bitches don’t! See y’all in five years, when y’all bitches is burnt and broke. I will be sitting cute and clothed, fuck all that.” Born in D.C. and raised in the DMV (that’s the D.C. Metro area that spans Maryland and Virginia; she grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland) Rico forged her superstar-on-the-rise persona across six mixtapes and the usual social media suspects. She’d switch up aesthetic styles as frequently as she’d try on a new wig, throwing candy-coated trap singles that reference Nickelodeon at one moment (“Hey Arnold”), and the next dropping an entire mixtape of slightly softer material built for an alter-ego named Tacobella (for last year’s Tales of Tacobella). All that stylistic juggling has benefitted Rico on the run up to her latest mixtape, June’s Nasty, on which her staccato flow and ironclad braggadocio remain a constant as she juggles disparate sounds of rap’s nouveau; Rico shows she can scream-rap like the best Soundcloud rapper on “Rage” and then transition to the comparatively dreamlike “Lala,” and to her credit she makes it sound as easy as a tech-savvy millennial posting a photo to Instagram.   v