All of 2020 has felt like a bad dream, and the holiday season is especially grim. So this week we're leaning in to the terror and celebrating with Five Days of Rico Nasty, the rapper whose debut album, Nightmare Vacation, doesn't seek to comfort listeners so much as validate their anger and anxieties. We'll be talking to the rapper and her collaborators about the best and worst parts of an awful year... that just happened to have some pretty great music.
Rubi Rose has made a name for herself in 2020 by doing whatever she wants. She hung out with a rapper on his birthday and became the target of ridicule for just being there. She made $100,000 on OnlyFans just two days after signing up, but subscribers were upset about the lack of explicit photos, which she had never promised in the first place. It's one of the first signs of stardom when no matter what you do, the world will make whatever happens your fault.
But the 21-year-old rapper, speaking to PAPER over the phone, says that her year, despite all of its ups and downs, has "been more good" than bad. "I've grown a lot in my career and just as a person this year," she says.
Rose started off 2020 as a hip-hop freshman. After her second-ever song "Big Mouth," went viral at the end of last year and earned her a fanbase of listeners eager to hear her talk her aggressive shit in her booming register, the rapper began 2020 with all ears turned her way, waiting to see if she could replicate her breakout hit's success.
Related | Welcome to Five Days of Rico Nasty
She revealed to Flaunt earlier this year that she wasn't confident in her music when the year started, but when her name couldn't leave people's mouths, she released moment-shifting songs that quelled all the surrounding noise: "Pretty MF," "He In His Feelings" and "POGO" with K Camp. Now, her disposition has changed, for sure — and it's not only because of the reception that she's been getting from her massive array of listeners, but also from her fellow musicians.
"I've been in the studio, I've put in the work, and I've had people, like Cardi and other artists that I really respect and look up to just give me my flowers, so I know that I have to be doing something right," she says.
Talking about what's made 2020 a great year for her, working with Rico Nasty on the "Smack A Bitch (Remix)" and much more, here's Rubi Rose.
2020 has been a huge year for you. How would you describe it?
Frankly, it's been crazy. There's been a lot of good, there's been a lot of bad. But I would say for me, personally, it's been more good. I've grown a lot in my career and just as a person this year. But with the pandemic going on, and the issues affecting Black people like police brutality, it's just been kind of a sticky and not great thing. But there has been some good. I can say so about even.
Before you released "Big Mouth," you lacked confidence in your music. After some key hits like "POGO" and "He In His Feelings," how would you say that you feel about it now?
I've definitely got a lot more confident with my music and as a person, just with growth, because before when I had dropped "Big Mouth" it was my second song ever putting out. I've been in the studio, I've put in the work, and I've had people, like Cardi and other artists that I really respect and look up to just give me my flowers, so I know that I have to be doing something right. My confidence has grown.
Songs that you've released this year like the two I just mentioned, what are they in service of? Are we getting closer to that debut album?
I'm just trying to make the best music I can make right now. I do plan on putting it together and giving fans a little project. Right now, I'm just recording though. I am working on an album, for sure.
What has inspired you to go into the booth during this bleak year?
A lot. I just moved to Los Angeles and I got a little house. I was in Atlanta. I'm living somewhat of a different lifestyle now, and my relationships with people, friends, niggas, has changed all around. I'm looking at my life as inspiration, I guess.
Would you say the change of scenery helped you?
Hell, yeah. Definitely.
You were on OnlyFans before a lot of other celebrities made their way to it. How's that going? Do you have plans to keep up with it once the pandemic's over?
Hell, yeah. I'm doing it now, really. OnlyFans is really a great platform for sex workers, for everybody, artists, famous people, you can really put whatever content you want on it. And it's really just a good outlet that you can pop in and talk to your fans, and people who generally support you. It's cool to have a different type of level of intimacy with the people who really support you. So I stuck with OnlyFans. And yes, I will keep on using it into 2021 by incorporating my music and stuff with it.
All right. My next question for you is how did you connect with Rico Nasty for the "Smack A Bitch" Remix? And how did that relationship come about?
She literally just DMed and was like, "I have a song I think you would like." And then she sent it to me. Or no. She had either songs she wanted me to get on. And when she sent it to me, I was like, "This is my song." That's one of my favorite songs by her. It was really just a DM, started with a DM. And ended up on the deluxe.
Earlier this year, you spoke about wanting to be taken more seriously as an artist. How would you say that's changed as the year's gone on?
It has, to an extent. There's always room to be taken more seriously and be more respected as an artist. But I think some of that falls on to me, and how I often present myself. But yeah, I definitely would like to get taken more seriously, of course, but I have definitely seen some growth since the beginning.
So to wrap this up, what's the message that you want your fans to take away from your long-awaited debut album when it comes out?
I'm a real, real wild bitch. I'm really living my life. And I don't know. I just typically, whenever a girl is like, "Listen to my music." It just traps them into like — sounds corny, but it traps them into being the bad bitch. And giving them confidence, and not giving a fuck about what a n*gga or bitch has to say. I like to make my ladies, and even my guys. It's freaking music to make you confident.
Photography: Kaiya Lawrence