Favorite Track: "OHFR?" Least Favorite Track: "Pussy Poppin"
Rising trap artist Rico Nasty’s breakout single “Smack A Bitch” is very indicative of what she excels at in her music. The aggressive guitars, the loud and snarky vocals, and the sheer level of energy that Rico brings to the already murderous beat is a successful recipe that not only works for her on this track, but many others across her discography. Going into her new project Nightmare Vacation, this style was really all I found myself hoping for; a stark and simple continuation of the sound of the single that made her career. In a lot of ways, Rico delivered on my wish with her debut LP, but unfortunately some of the fantastically aggressive cuts on Nightmare Vacation end up being padded down by other lackluster trap songs that feel more generic than anything Rico has put out thus far.
The duality of Nightmare Vacation becomes quite apparent after the first two tracks, “Candy” and “Don’t Like Me (feat. Don Toliver & Gucci Mane)”. The former of the two is a clear and cut banger, where Rico comes through with a braggadocious attitude as she glides over a beat dominated by brain-melting 808 patterns and slightly unsettling guitar arpeggios in the background. The track is loud, fun, aggressive, and full of personality, essentially melting everything I want from Rico into one track. “Don’t Like Me” is almost the antithesis of “Candy”; an attempt at a light-hearted cut about writing off your haters, but the poppy instrumental and the lackluster appearances from Gucci Mane and Don Toliver diminish the track into nothing more than mindless pop-rap drivel.
The uninspired and derivative sound of “Don’t Like Me” continues later in the album, with the tracks “Back & Forth (feat. Amine)” and “Loser (feat. Trippie Redd)” both taking a similar route. It is no coincidence that among the moments where Rico strays furthest from herself on Nightmare Vacation, she seems to be conforming to the style of her features. Her personality virtually disappearing from the tracks she has enlisted other artists on becomes their downfall, and on these cuts it feels as though she may not understand how interesting she really is. “Loser” has all the stylings of a typical emo-trap song. The slightly somber guitar lick and understated trap drums compliment Trippie’s typical vocal style, but unfortunately do not match Rico’s at all. “Back & Forth” has a bouncy trap beat that sounds as playful as anything off of Amine’s 2020 album Limbo, but Rico is too overpowered by his appearance for it to feel like her own song.
Moreover, the enjoyable tracks more than make up for the few cuts on here that feel too derivative or uninteresting. The aforementioned “Candy” serves as a wonderful re-introduction to Rico’s aggressive sound, and I cannot say enough good things about this track in the context of an opener. “Girl Scouts'' is a murderous trap banger with a chilling beat filled with creepy strings and piercing hi-hats, courtesy of producer duo Take a Daytrip. The chorus melody here from Rico is cold-blooded, with a strained, almost screaming refrain of “Bitches at your door like Girl Scouts, I pull up with the chopper and I air it out”. The aptly named “STFU” is quick-fire, powerful and more mean-spirited than most of the tracks on Nightmare Vacation, and this ends up working in the track’s favor. The chorus is filled with spiteful anger, as Rico bluntly repeats the title over and over again as if she is attempting to overpower some sort of suppressing force. Finally, “OHFR?” is a snarky cut overflowing with sass. The flat synth line and basic drums create a bleak but slightly hostile tone. This track is easily my favorite on the record; it feels as though this cut is the true sequel to everything I loved about “Smack A Bitch”. Rico’s delivery is confrontational and the minimalist nature of the instrumental creates a clear and clean slate for unfiltered aggression and anger, which is the very thing I believe Rico excels at in her music.
Nightmare Vacation, although a mixed bag in terms of quality at times, is mostly filled with what I wanted from Rico’s new project. Great production stocked with blasting 808s, murderous melodies, and endless amounts of personality all come together to create a solid commercial debut. For many rising musicians, it often becomes easy to lose sight of your artistry while pursuing the success of the mainstream. Rico, however, refuses to conform to traditional musical standards, keeping her trademark flair on this project. Even on this album's weakest moments, it maintains a constant level of enjoyability. The spots that disappoint run a trend of being misguided attempts at mainstream hits, and in the spots where Rico shines through as what she has historically shown to be her true self, she goes above and beyond her past works with ease.