The tales of ‘Tacobella’ seemed to have a very nasty chapter towards the end of 2021 for Rico Nasty when she opened for fellow rapper Playboi Carti’s now-infamous Narcissist/King Vamp tour. A vibrant, colourful and expressive rapper who suits every hair colour possible and never fails to amaze with her outlandish looks, Rico Nasty is an inspiration for many fans, particularly for a lot of black girls like myself. The artist represents a certain demographic with her music—the girls who love alternative looks and creative style and have a thing for roaring scream music to rage to. Which is why I, among many others, was so stunned by the hate she received while touring for Playboi Carti and how downplayed it was by some of his fans.
Playboi Carti’s tour promoted his highly anticipated second studio album Whole Lotta Red, released in 2020. Naturally, after every new album comes a tour. The King Vamp tour across North America was announced in late 2021, and listed Rico Nasty as a supporting act for several dates from October through to December.
Now, it’s not uncommon for fans to not entirely dig the opening act for their favourite artists, right? I mean, you’re there to see your fav, not necessarily anyone else. However, what’s interesting is the fact that Nasty is the perfect opener for Carti—only thing is, she’s not a man. With her rager persona, singles like ‘Smack A Bitch’, ‘IDGAF’, and ‘OHFR?’ which easily fit the moshpit hype vibe and her charisma on stage, Nasty is just the right amount of chaos for a concert like Carti’s. What no one could anticipate was the additional chaos that came from her being there.
In an interview with Billboard in December of last year, Nasty shared how she felt “embraced” on the tour, even though she was the lone female act on the road alongside fellow supporting act Ken Car$on. However, it seems as though this couldn’t be further from the truth observing what happened when the tour stopped over in Los Angeles. In early November, Nasty experienced issues with fans while opening for Carti. She was booed and had many disrespectful comments hurled at her by fans when performing on stage.
In a series of now-deleted tweets to her 816,000 followers, Nasty expressed her frustration and hardship performing for Carti’s fans on tour and their disrespect towards her. “Anti black ass crowd. Weak ass little boys with blonde pubes. Ugh. Get me out of here,” she tweeted the day following The Forum concert in Los Angeles on 7 November 2021.
Things didn’t get any better when she opened again for Carti a few days later in San Diego, at the Sycuan Stage on 9 November. The rapper received a flood of chants for Carti to come on stage instead and heckling from fans. There were even videos of fans sleeping on the floor during her set making the rounds on TikTok. Originally, Nasty held her own and more videos of her standing her ground against the rude reception circulated on social media.
At one part of the performance, Nasty even had a bottle thrown at her. Angered by this, she jumped off the stage and into the crowd but was held off by security before anything else occurred. This prompted a series of worrying tweets from the artist openly discussing her contemplation of suicide due to the stress she was under.
While fans continued to treat her poorly at the following shows held in California, Nasty’s series of tweets caught the attention of media outlets out of concern for her wellbeing. Many fans addressed their distaste at the reception she received. Others urged the singer to quit the show altogether for the sake of her mental health, and some called for Carti to step in and address his fans’ behaviour too.
Though the tour has now concluded, I still have a bone to pick with it, mainly due to the lack of support Nasty received during that time. Time and time again, we see female artists, specifically black female artists, be treated terribly by fans, fellow artists and by the industry at large. But why is that the case?
Since I know I am definitely not the only one who had some strong opinions—to put it very lightly—on the situation, I decided to reach out to LA-based music journalist and TikTok content creator Masani Musa from @cultureunfiltered to better gain some real insight into this issue. Masani reported on the events that took place between Nasty and Carti’s fans during the first half of the tour.
In our interview, I asked Masani to reflect on what changes need to be made in the music industry in order to stop this troubled history from repeating itself. Here’s what she had to say.
“I’ve reported on hip-hop music and news via blogs, radio, and presently via short-form content on TikTok. As a creator whose focus is on hip-hop music and its subcultures, it has been rewarding to see how it has continuously grown and impacted the world. I enjoy talking about the trends and new music I discover because I feel like we’re experiencing a digital renaissance with so many creatives willing to share their art with the world.”
“A lot of black people in the industry are first-generation creatives. With that comes a lot of pressure to succeed with less of a security net. Also, when you factor in ‘flex’ culture, it’s almost like you have to be successful, ‘lit’, and maintain the creativity that got your ‘foot in the door’ in real-time on social media.”
“I think the black experience in the music industry mirrors the black experience in a lot of industries. You have so much more to lose if things don’t go as you’ve planned.”
“The whole situation was extremely unfortunate and very eye-opening. I think we’ve gotten to a place where certain spaces in hip-hop have adopted an ‘anything goes’ type of energy and unfortunately, it appears that black women aren’t celebrated within that space,” Masani explained.
“Her response was heart-breaking because Rico Nasty is extremely talented and deserves respect and a safe space to perform her art in.”
“Black women contribute so much to hip-hop culture yet get the short end of the stick oftentimes. I feel like it mirrors society in a way,” Masani shared. She further explained the tricky nature of navigating the industry as a black female artist, “We aren’t protected, and unfortunately, things have to get really bad in order for us to have conversations surrounding this. I feel like black women in music should be embraced and provided a safe space for in the industry, among their fandom, and by their colleagues in music.”
One of the things that bothered me about this entire debacle is how Playboi Carti refused to do anything about it. I mean, it was his tour. Shouldn’t headline acts be held accountable for not stepping in?
Masani seemed to share the same sentiment, and stated, “I believe that if Playboi Carti stepped in, things would have gone down differently. Should he be held accountable for not stepping in? In a perfect world, yes. However, I don’t think his silence will do much harm to his career or tour so I guess things just are the way they are.”
In our interview, Masani offered some insight into what can be done to support black artists like Nasty and their mental health. “Showing positive support to artists on social media and making noise about instances like this are important. Also, fostering positive environments for them to perform their art,” she concluded.
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Since the initial blow up and social media fallout, a number of celebrities and fellow female artists including Megan Thee Stallion—who’s yet another victim of misogynoir—JT of the City Girls and Flo Milli—who teamed up with Nasty featuring on her single ‘Money’ in late 2021—came to Nasty’s defence on Twitter. We all know that gorgeous gorgeous girls support each other.
And seriously, when’s the concert for all the rap girlies? Sign me up.
For weeks the curious case of Megan Thee Stallion’s shooting has brought shockwaves throughout the media. Such an implausible story of two friends, the Quarantine Radio power duo, leaving a Kylie Jenner function and met with a sudden shooting. One a victim, the other a perpetrator. Many speculated a possible lovers’ spat, others, a turf war gone wrong.
Well, after efforts to defame the ‘Savage’ rapper’s credibility, Megan Thee Stallion hit back at the rumour mill to debunk any misconceptions we may have had. In an Instagram Live, the rapper alleged that Tory Lanez’s team were circulating misinformation of the case to news outlets and blogs. Here is why the ‘strong black woman’ trope delegitimised Megan Thee Stallion’s victimhood.
First of all, many might wonder why the rapper stayed silent on the matter for so long. Because of fear. “I’m scared, all this shit going on with the police… The police is shooting motherfuckers for everything. The police was literally killing black people for no motherfucking reason,” Megan explained on Instagram, adding, “I didn’t tell the police right there, immediately what happened because I didn’t want to die. I don’t want the police to shoot me. I didn’t want to tell the police nothing because I didn’t want us to get in any more trouble than what we were about to get in.”
When a black woman pleads to the masses for compassion, it is glaringly difficult as a black woman, not to recognise the suffering and follow it with a sigh. Not out of a lack of empathy but of the apathy of others. For so long the cries of black women in society have resembled a sort of convulsion into a haunted house of mirrors, where the mirrors are two-sided; you on the side of the glass and society performing their own victimhood on the side of the mirror. There’s a tiny opening overhead but you can’t quite reach it with the weight of black men clambering through on your shoulders.
When Norwegian sociologist and criminologist Nils Christie spoke about the ideal victim, he framed his argument on personal characteristics; white womanhood. Yet, the conclusion of the study ultimately resulted in the confirmation that society is responsible for legitimising or refuting claims of victimhood.
Men sat on the internet to stake a claim in knowledge of an incident they did not witness, some women even went on podcasts and social media to contest Megan’s trauma to the point where she felt no other choice than to show proof of her injuries. Again, compassion was still not extended. Why? Misogynoir, which defines misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias, coupled with size discrimination.
Had Megan Thee Stallion been dainty and unassuming, a singer and not a rapper, perhaps then she would have been met with a little more grace. By no means is she overweight. However, by being voluptuous, five foot ten and brown-skinned black, that all amounted to the masculinisation of a woman who had been a victim of gun violence. According to society, Megan is not near enough to being a damsel in distress for her trauma to be handled with care.
In addition to fear, the rapper commented on her innate need to protect and put the needs not only of others, men specifically before her own. “Even though he shot me, I tried to spare him.”
One constant criticism of the fight against police brutality among the black community is how outrage pales in comparison when gender is considered. According to Statista, in 2020 111 black people were killed in the US at the hands of police. Of those most widely known was the murder of George Floyd, which reignited global Black Lives Matter protests. A triggering point in time for black people on the internet especially to be inundated with race-based trauma porn at a higher rate than ever before. Black women were at the fore and mobilised the black community to get to work, as we do and should.
Then came Breonna Taylor and we continued to march. But when the lens was shifted to Oluwatoyin Salau, then Mercy Mack and once Black Lives Matter was extended to Black Trans Lives Matter (too), some believed that too divisive a cause to stand behind. Focus on the men first (as always), then we can focus on (cisgender-heterosexual) women, because violence against black womxn at the hands of black men is too political and undermines the work of liberation for others.
This is why we say, ‘say her name’ because if not we, then who? Time and time again our male counterparts show us that protection comes with conditions—conditions black women cannot afford to consider when the shoe is on our foot and their foot on our necks.