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  • Dick James

ALBUM REVIEW: Rico Nasty, Las Ruinas

Grade: C

The second Las Ruinas starts with the stellar opening track, “Intrusive,” her demeanor feels more focused than ever. Saving no punches with scattered glitches that pan from left to right, abrasive vocals that feature her most interesting flows to date, and a pounding bassline that calls back to The Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up,” Rico’s vision for her sound feels clearer than ever.

Rico rose to prominence in 2018 with her Kenny Beats produced single, “Smack a Bitch,” and she made it known from the start that she wasn’t a rapper to fuck with. On the track she thanks God that she didn’t have to smack a bitch today. Now she’s smacking bitches on the daily and embracing it.

Tracks like “Black Punk” and the 100 gecs produced, “Gotsta Get Paid” see Rico fully immersing herself in the sinister sound that she’s been working so hard to perfect, and she has perfected it. “Black Punk” features a guitar line that feels threatening, yet calm. Rico’s created an atmosphere within her sound that she reigns and we as the listener are at the mercy of her control. The simple, yet anthemic hook emits blunt force that makes it impossible not to encapsulate the listener. “Gotsta Get Paid,” features a trip hop influenced instrumental, and the percs on the drums sound so goddamn crisp, it feels like a beat that you could have on loop for hours. The bass feels West Coast inspired. Rico’s flows feel Memphis inspired, and the beat shows the versatility that 100 gecs have and only make them that much more intriguing.

There are other standouts on the project. “Blow Me” and “Vaderz” with an excellent feature by Bktherula are as hard hitting as any track on the album, but they do feel like familiar territory for Rico. The most interesting tracks on the project are the tracks where she experiments with 90’s jungle drums and four on the floor house beats. “Jungle” is a really cool remix of a Fred again.. track that released earlier on in the summer. “Skullflower,” is a cute track with pitched vocals that feels like an outtake from an artist on PC Music. “Focus On Me,” features heavy drums that feel stark and a beat that could’ve ended up on a Dev Hynes project just as easily as it could’ve ended up on a Drain Gang project.

Rico’s versatility on the mixtape is exceptional, but her struggle to put together a cohesive project plagues Las Ruinas. While this project feels like an experiment and can be stunning in its brightest moments, it suffers from Rico being unable to cut tracks, and sometimes tries to do more than it’s capable of.

Teezo Touchdown’s intro on the track “Messy,” is one of the most annoying things I’ve heard all year. The rest of the track is fine, and during the bridge of the track, it features the exact same Teezo part that plays in the intro. The second time around goes a lot better than the first, with interesting vocal melodies and instrumentation. However, this hardly saves the track due to the intro being so unbearable that it’s nearly impossible to skip. “Easy,” which serves as a heartbreaking eulogy to a former relationship, is a vulnerable moment on the record, and features some of Rico’s best singing to date. But the instrumental features a rather bland acoustic guitar playing and sticks out like a sore thumb in comparison with the rest of the project.

Las Ruinas is not Rico Nasty’s best project, but it is her most fascinating. While a more concise track list could benefit this project, it is admirable to see Rico experiment so much with her sound. She’s proven how massive her potential is and it’ll be interesting to see the next route that she takes in her career.

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