After releasing her ruthless, heavy-hitting 2018 album Nasty, Rico Nasty seemed ready to burst from the underground and dominate the mainstream. Her collaborations with Kenny Beats, the underground hip-hop producer du jour, have been nothing shy of sensational, particularly when they involved flipping a classic sample or reworking a legendary beat. Take her song “Countin’ Up,” for example. Kenny Beats cooked up a bass-dominated, smile-inducing retooling of The Neptunes’s beat for Noreaga’s “Superthug,” and Rico Nasty proceeded to rip it to shreds. Rico Nasty’s tenacity and ferocity are what made Nasty one of the best rap releases of 2018, so when she announced Anger Management, all the eyes in the rap world were on her.
From the get-go, Anger Management finds Rico Nasty with the pedal on the floor. After all, the album promises the energy of a temper tantrum. She’s pure gas on album opener “Cold.” She does it all on this song: Talking shit over yet another face-melting beat from Kenny Beats, she raps aggressively and she screams. A lot. It’s refreshing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rap album with a sound quite like this, and I especially don’t think I’ve heard one poised to sustain this type of energy over the full runtime. Rico Nasty attempts to do just that on this album, but that may be because it barely clocks in at 19 minutes in length. It’s short, sweet and to the point, but that might turn out to be too good to be true.
Other high points include the Earthgang-assisted “Big Titties” and the Jay-Z/Timbaland- interpolating “Hatin.” “Big Titties” finds Rico, Earthgang, Kenny Beats and EDM artist/“Harlem Shake” producer Baauer at their most kinetic. Kenny Beats and Baauer lay down a ridiculous beat accented by wacky vocal samples, wolf-whistles and clanging cowbells, not to mention absolutely pummelling 808s. Rico Nasty and Earthgang both deliver acrobatic verses, but Rico Nasty is especially elastic, bending words and syllables at whim. She throws down some complex bars, some funny ones too, and she even spits a bar in which she claims she’s so “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” It’s fun, and it’s definitely a welcome change of pace in today’s rap climate.
“Hatin” finds Rico Nasty spitting over a Kenny Beats remake of Jay-Z and Timbaland’s hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” similar to Nasty’s remake of “Superthug.” Where Jay-Z was reserved, Rico Nasty is vicious. She goes hard, and she knows it. She talks smack with the best of them. To that end, she kicks the song off by exclaiming, “I got bitches on my dick and I ain't even got a dick.” “Hatin” is a perfect modern remake of a classic song, and Rico Nasty certainly does it justice.
Surprisingly, outside these songs, the album begins to drag, and, at 19 minutes in length, that is not a good thing. As Rico Nasty begins to cool off, the album’s quality begins to diminish. Songs like “Mood” and “Relative” are decent at best. The closing half of the album feels rushed. It’s good, no doubt, but it seems unfinished. Even with the tonal shifts, the album still begins to feel a bit samey. Anger Management, while certainly good in its own right, does not call for many repeat listens. It does, however, call for more attention to be paid to both Rico Nasty and Kenny Beats in the future because they are clearly on the verge of a breakthrough.