Tonight, rappers Rico Nasty and Danny Brown will face off in a battle of musical renovation at SoundClash, a head-to-head competition series hosted by Red Bull. 

Rico and Danny are two of hip hop’s most distinct voices. Rico uses her trademarked Sugar Trap style on songs like “Key Lime OG,” where her drill inspiration really shines through in her delivery and beat selection. Danny has a decade plus in the game, carving out a corner of rap with his twangy high-pitched vocals paired with a hard-core delivery as seen on hits like “XXX,” or “Really Doe.”

SoundClash has them showcasing reimagined covers of each other’s music, renovating their own fan-favorite songs, and bringing out surprise guests in a three-round competition put to a crowd vote. 

This year marks the first time in 10 years that SoundClash is being held in four cities across the U.S., including Houston, Nashville and Atlanta. And on Dec. 15, it’s going down at Radius Chicago in Chinatown. While some surprise Chicago guests are to be expected — Paul Wall and Big Freedia came out during the Houston matchup between Tank and the Bangas and The Suffers — one thing we know for sure is that DJ King Marie will be repping the city as host for the night. 

Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the show is open to ages 17 and older. Radius requires all attendees to be fully vaccinated OR have proof of a negative COVID-19 test dated within the prior 72 hours. Tickets are available here.

On Dec. 14, The Triibe caught up with Rico Nasty and Danny Brown at Fort Knox Studios in Portage Park. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation.

[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity].

Photo of Rico Nasty, taken at Fort Knox Studios in Chicago by ANF Chicago // The TRiiBE
TRiiBE reporter Matt Harvey interviewing Rico Nasty at Fort Knox Studios in Chicago by ANF Chicago // The TRiiBE
What was your reaction when you learned who you were matching up with for this SoundClash?

Rico Nasty: When they first told me they were pairing me with Danny, I knew that, because of our unique vocal capabilities and flows, it was gonna be fun. And Red Bull has kind of just been letting us make it what we want it to be. It’s going to be different, unorthodox.

Danny Brown: Rico Nasty is just a sweetheart, so it’s been hard for me to come at it with that aggression of a competition. Even in a competition, I don’t think she gon come with that kind of energy either. If it was a rapper I really wanted to go at it with, it might be different. Even though the ones I’d feel that way about would probably bust my ass hahaha.

What have you been doing to prepare for the matchup?

Rico Nasty: I feel like, I haven’t been looking at it like a competition with Danny but more so a showcase of which songs we like from each other. I’m excited to see the crowd’s reactions to the special guests, the songs we chose to cover for each other, [and] all the other cool shit that we brought into the show. 

Danny Brown: It’s been different than what typically goes into preparing for a show. We don’t usually have to worry about special guests or performing cover songs, and a lot of different shit around this show that we have to do. Since COVID-19, we haven’t been performing much so it took me months just to relearn the lyrics to all my songs before I even got started learning Rico’s.

You've each performed plenty of shows in Chicago in the past. What's your relationship been like with the city? How are the crowds here?

Rico Nasty: I’ll never forget the time I was here at Pitchfork [Music Festival] in 2019 and it was, like, 100 degrees out. I was on stage in a full wig, make-up; I could feel the lash falling off my eye. But yeah, every time I come here, people show love.  I remember when I came here on tour one time, they had the floor about to cave in at Reggie’s. They wanted me to stop the show.  

Danny Brown: Chicago is one of my best places to perform in the states. It’s always been a strong market for me. I’m from Detroit, so we like cousins and shit anyway. I can’t tell y’all everything we got in store [for SoundClash] but just know, I got the Chi on lock. Don’t worry.

TRiiBE reporter Matt Harvey interviewing Danny Brown at Fort Knox Studios in Chicago by ANF Chicago // The TRiiBE
Photo of Danny Brown, taken at Fort Knox Studios in Chicago by ANF Chicago // The TRiiBE
I know y'all can't tell us which Chicago artists will be special guests at SoundClash, so instead I'll ask: who are some Chicago artists y'all rock with on the daily?

Rico Nasty: Chief Keef was the inspiration behind a lot of the shit that I do. I remember hearing his voice, his flows, and the way everything [he did] was so swaggy. For a lot of my early stuff, I would literally get on YouTube and type in “Chief Keef type beat,” ya feel me. 

Queen Key came to my very first show here [in Chicago]. She always shows love. I really do love her. 

And I was literally just talking about Kidd Kenn. I remember seeing videos of him freestyling and looking cute as shit while doing it. It’s amazing seeing his growth and everything he’s done.

Danny Brown: There’s this kid named DaWeirdo that I’ve been fucking with. He’s actually been hitting me up. I gotta have him come through to meet. 

Teklife have always been my homies, and then there’s dudes like Joey Purp who I like, and Vic Mensa who I also went on tour with. My Chicago roots run thick.

is a staff writer with The TRiiBE. Email him with news tips.