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Review: ‘Anger Management’ by Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats

Rico Nasty and Kenny Beats form the perfect match on their latest collaborative mixtape

2018, on the whole, was a terrific year for hip-hop, and it was equally monumental for both DMV rapper Rico Nasty and on-the-rise producer Kenny Beats.

Rico Nasty took last year by storm, emerging as one of hip-hop’s hottest new commodities. In addition to covering her fantastic major label debut Nasty, which ended up on our list of the best albums of 2018, we also profiled the artist and observed what made her such a phenomenal, immensely interesting musical icon. Rico’s refreshing, high-octane take on trap music, as well as her eccentricity and thorough grasp of her artistry, absolutely stole our hearts last year.

But it’s worth recognizing one of the masterminds behind some of the best joints from Nasty: Kenny Beats, who had a sensational year last year and emerged as one of hip-hop’s best new producers. Originally an EDM producer and member of Loudpvck, Kenny Beats’ work with rappers like Rico Nasty, Freddie Gibbs, Key!, J.I.D, Vince Staples, ALLBLACK, JPEGMAFIA, 10k.Caash has made him one of rap’s most sought-after producers.

Having already produced bangers for Rico Nasty like “Smack A Bitch,” “Rage,” “Countin Up,” “Trust Issues,” “Guap” and “Sandy” — and given Beats’ tendency to work with rappers on full projects (e.g. Key!, ALLBLACK) — we thought it was only a matter of time before the two linked up for an entire project. That project, of course, is Anger Management, and it undoubtedly lives up to the hype.

It’s clear that their friendship plays a key role in why these two always seem to be in their bags whenever they work together, because on Anger Management, both artists barely miss a single step. From the get-go, the duo delivers a gut-punch on “Cold”; Beats’ provides the perfect bassy backdrop for Nasty to be as aggressive, bragaddocious and ruthless as ever, as she belches on the hook, “NONE OF THESE BITCHES COLD AS ME!

The intensity doesn’t let up on the following song “Cheat Code,” which has enough eerie pizzicato to make it feel like you’re listening to the soundtrack of Jordan Peele’s movie Us. Together, with Rico Nasty’s heightened abrasiveness and contributions from electronic producer Baauer (the “Harlem Shake” producer), the duo concocts one of the hardest-hitting songs released this entire year.

Sometimes, in the midst of all the music releases, it becomes unclear why certain artists even make the music that they do; for Rico, that purpose has always seemed pretty clear: to promote self-love and individuality — philosophies she carries in real life as well. On “Sell Out,” Rico speaks directly with the listeners about her commitment to not compromising her own self-worth, as well as about how she uses her own music to deal with depression and uplift whose with similar life experiences. It’s a much more sobering moment on the project that shows the real purpose behind the music.

Along with other grand moments, like the excellent reworking of Jay-Z & Timbaland’s classic “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” on the song “Hatin,” and an amazing feature from EARTHGANG on the banger “Big Titties,” Anger Management is already in the running for one of the best projects released so far this year. And I don’t think either Rico or Kenny is done with 2019 just yet.

Enjoy Anger Management below.

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