| Meet the face of change, willing to risk it all |
While we live in a social media driven-era where many opt to hide behind false personas, transparency and authenticity, as rare as it may be these days, is usually what resonates most with people. However, here we are in 2015 and while certain things are somewhat changing and evolving around us as well as in the hip-hop culture, there is still a long battle ahead for acceptance in the rap realm for many. Enter, Brooklyn born rapper on the rise Young M.A. Destined and poised to be that change, M.A spoke with us exclusively about her come up, being strongly influenced by 50 Cent, personal struggles as a gay artist, being compared to Bobby Shmurda, what she loves about Drake and much more.
What were you like as a kid growing up before becoming Young M.A?
I was a tom boy growing up. Hanging out with the guys, playing football, basketball etc. Just a regular kid running around outside causing trouble.
What artist(s) encouraged you to pursue music?
When I first started writing, there wasn’t anybody specific. It’s hard to explain how it all came about BUT when I got serious and realized I wanted to do it for real, it was 50 Cent. When he first came out he was something I could just listen to, it was different and I looked up to him. Then when I first heard “Many men,” it made me take my writing so serious just seeing how he was able to put that story together.
Aside from 50 Cent, who else has inspired you and your sound?
Eve, she influenced me, I liked her “pitbull in a skirt” style and Lauren Hill. As for males, old Jay Z, like, I can’t say Biggie, even though I know his music, but I didn’t listen as much like others, so Jay Z, Jadakiss, Dipset, that whole Roc-A-Fella movement, that raw music was pretty much it for me.
Upon seeing your videos, some people around me called you the female version of Bobby Shmurda…thoughts?
(laughs)… I mean, we’re both from Brooklyn, so I kinda see the obvious similarities based on our BK comparison. As far as me being a female Bobby Shmurda, I can’t really say or agree cause he’s got his lane and I got mine, we’re in 2 different lanes. I guess I can see and understand why people would compare us cause of the content, and I like Bobby, I don’t knock it, I like his music cause when he came out I got that Brooklyn feeling again so it’s not a bad comparison at all, I actually kinda like the comment the more I think about it.
Your fan base is growing rapidly, what do you think it is that draws people to Young M.A?
That’s actually a good question I ask myself all the time. What is it about me, cause when you are that person you don’t see it. So while others see it, you yourself may not see it so I just take it from what people tell me. People can tell that I’m real. I’m not talking about fake stuff that I don’t have, and people like that I give em that 90s/2000s rap when rap was really rap, so I think people feel that and like that feeling. I think people just miss that feeling so when listeners hear a female rapping like me, they’re intrigued and of course, my appearance, I’m a lesbian so I think people are just curious about me in general and what I have to say.
What is your opinion on how females are portrayed in hip-hop?
A lot of females in hip-hop usually have to be what they’re told to be and not actually them, so I think that’s the biggest problem cause they cannot be themselves. I think it prevents them from growing or even wanting to do music because they don’t wanna just be a sex symbol so it’s hard. And yes, sex sells, but females are just set-up to be this one way while men can be whatever,… free. For example, Da Brat and Queen Latifah, when they came out you know… they had to be something they really weren’t.
As a gay rapper and knowing the homophobia that exists in hip-hop, how have you been treated and how should other artists feel about doing music no matter their sexual preference?
I’m actually confident now more then before cause I remember before I had any recognition, I was being told how to wear my hair, being told to talk about men in songs, then I’d talk about men and women in songs but I still had to wear my hair down and be feminine even though it wasn’t me. It was at that point I left music alone. I went and got a job and started living a normal life, but I just couldn’t escape the music. It was a part of me, it followed me so I just said I don’t care anymore, I’m tired of this and I just wanna spit and I really want people to hear me. And that’s why I want females to know and understand NOW, that if you got a talent, do it, just do it as cliche as it sounds, don’t worry bout your appearance or how you look. I feel now more than ever the industry will respect you for it and the more women come along it becomes more empowering and a movement type thing so strong it could not be denied. We’re coming hard. And there is so much female talent that get no recognition cause of how they look and I feel that now in 2015, it’s a little easier so we got an opening now with things becoming more accepted like gay marriages for example, etc.
Do you think that you could be that change and are you prepared to be the face of change?
Yes, that’s what’s scary. Being the face of this, I think that’s really scary and because I’m like the leader of the pack, you know what I mean. It’s like I opened the doors for a lot of other women now so it is scary because it’s all on me. It’s really gonna be all eyes on me because it’s something new to the game and it’s something they’re not used to at all, BUT, I’m ready! I feel like I prepared myself all these years for it.
What’s next for Young M.A?
Oh man we’ve got so much coming up, like everything’s being put into effect now. I’m currently working on my mixtape called Sleep Walking. The meaning behind that is basically you’re just taking action in your sleep, so I looked at it as why not put it into a mixtape saying I can do this in my sleep, you know what I’m saying? So I just kinda made it into a metaphor, I thought it was perfect. I also have a couple shows coming up, I’ve got one in Brooklyn on May 16 and I just recently did a show in New Jersey. So we’re basically just focused on trying to get more shows so people can see me in person. All these people see me on Instagram wondering when I’m going to come to their city and that’s been our main focus. I can’t really say too much, but just know we’re definitely working.
Who do you hope to work with in the near future?
It’s funny because I never really took the time to think about that. I’ve never really thought “who would I work with in the future?”. I’ve been focusing so much on myself but if I had to make a choice right now…I like Drake. There are so many artists I feel won’t be able to compete with me on a record, lyrically wise. I like Meek Mill too, I’m a big fan of him. I would do a record with Meek Mill if I had to choose right now.
If you had to move to Mars and could only take 5 albums, which would they be?
50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying first and foremost, Jay Z’s The Blueprint part 2, I would take my mixtape, Meek Mill’s DreamChasers 3 mixtape and Drake’s Nothing Was The Same. I like Drake, his music is something I can listen to every song and not get bored.
Follow-up question:It’s funny as I speak with you, knowing your content and listen as you detail your come up & express your love for raw-rooted New York rap like 50, Jay, Jadakiss, Dipset, etc then you mention Drake. I love Drake’s music as well and I’m not saying I cannot imagine you liking him, I’m only curious being from Toronto, what is it about the Canadian rapper?
Drake, because listen, he can put you in so many different moods and that’s what I like most about him. He’s so versatile. I like him because he can do the stuff he’s doing now, but he can always take it back to the old Drake and that’s what I like about him. Because he can give you something new, but he can bring it back too. A lot of rappers don’t do that. They just completely change and evolve and never bring their old stuff back, and a lot of people miss that. People will say things like, “I miss the old Jay Z“. Drake will do that. He’ll have a song and you’re like “yeah that’s the old Drake“, you know what I mean? And he’s lyrical! He’s got lyrics! And he can also make good music that you can consistently listen to.
What does hip-hop mean to you?
Hip hop means everything to me. I’ve been doing it since I was little so it’s definitely a big part of me, definitely my first love. I never would have even thought I would be in this position at this time, you know. At some points I thought I’d never rap again. It’s funny how things come into play, but hip-hop is my first love, I’m married to it, but I also feel like hip-hop isn’t the same. People don’t take it seriously anymore. A lot of people are following other people and nobody’s being real anymore. Nobody’s talking about what they go through, their struggles. Everybody just wants to have money and talk about money. In reality, when you’re living and working your 9-5, people have their insecurities sometimes, because everybody wants to be rich and famous. Everybody wants to be somebody. I feel like a lot of rappers need to start talking about their struggles so people can understand that they’ve once been through a struggle and they can get to where they got. I feel like I need to do that. I want people to know who I am before I come out. I think hip-hop is knowing that somebody is speaking about what you go through, and not about what you got.