The Association of Black Harvard Women (ABHW) welcomed up-and-coming rapper Rico Nasty to campus on March 4. Known for her hit songs “Bitch I’m Nasty” and “Countin’ Up,” Rico Nasty joined ABHW for an on-campus discussion followed by a concert at The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub in Cambridge.
The night’s events began with a question and answer session with the artist, moderated by ABHW’s Inclusivity Chair Morgan K. Ogryzek ’21. The discussion covered a variety of topics such as Rico Nasty’s artistic inspirations, son, target audience, and unconventional style. Themes of race, gender identity, black womanhood, beauty standards, and breaking boundaries permeated the conversation.
When asked what inspired her to start making music and her intended audience, Rico Nasty said, “I think what made me start doing music, generally, was just the idea of having an outlet, something or somewhere I can put all my emotions and not really get judged for it.” She explained that while many believe that she makes music specifically for women, she believes that her music can appeal to anyone who wants to have a good time.
After this conversation between Rico Nasty and Ogryzek, the discussion opened to questions from the audience. Audience members inquired about Rico Nasty’s makeup routine, her creative process, and the significance behind her various tattoos. The discussion with Rico Nasty concluded with a question on her favorite songs to perform and who she would like to collaborate with someday. After the discussion, the crowd, predominantly made up of black women, left buzzing with excitement.
The night’s events concluded with a performance by Rico Nasty and an after-party at the Middle East. After an opening set by Boston rapper Vintage Lee, Rico Nasty took the stage. She performed her popular songs “Tia Tamera” (a Doja Cat song that features Rico Nasty), “Smack A Bitch,” and “Rage” to a crowd of about 500 students from Harvard and other Boston universities. Rico Nasty’s set sparked a mosh pit and evoked loud cheering and rapping from the crowd. Many stayed after the concert for the after party, during which a DJ played songs ranging from popular hip-hop tracks to Caribbean reggae and dancehall songs.
After the show, audience member Shayla L. LeBlanc ’21 said, “The show was amazing! I've been a fan of Rico for years and I've seen her three times in less than a year! I lost my voice after rapping every single song she played; it was such a high-energy show and amazing experience.”
After the concert, Kacey E. Gill ’20, the president of ABHW, discussed planning the discussion and concert, the success of the event, the significance of Rico Nasty’s appearance at Harvard, and ABHW’s future.
Gill explained that ABHW planned the event after recognizing that few social spaces and events are targeted toward Harvard’s black community, particularly those who identify as black women.
“Rico embodies a lot of values that we vibe with,” Gill said, describing how Rico Nasty not only discusses significant topics from mental health to gender identity, but can also keep a crowd on their feet during a performance.
“When we were planning this event, we didn’t just want it to be the concert. Social spaces are important for us but there’s been a lot of discussion across this campus also about making sure that the socials spaces that are provided aren’t solely just parties,” Gill said. “In addition to the concert we made sure that we had a discussion. We wanted students to interact and see this artist as a person.”
Gill added that all profits from the event will go directly to ABHW’s mentorship program for high school students in the Boston area.