On Saturday 17 June, Royal Festival Hall will be rocking to the sound of Young M.A at M.I.A.’s Meltdown, but who exactly is Young M.A?
Young M.A focuses on making realistic rap music; delivering skillfully crafted rhymes with no-frills but plenty of lived experience. ‘When I tell stories, it's either what I'm going through, what I've been through and experienced and seen, or someone else experienced around me,’ she told Fader.
Young M.A. had known she was gay from first grade, but some of her early managers tried to dissuade her from discussing her sexuality. It’s only under her current manager she’s felt comfortable being who she is. In a genre long dominated by an exaggerated and often aggressive heteromasculinity, Young M.A, an openly gay rapper spitting rhymes on her sexuality is undoubtedly pioneering, but it’s not how she wants to be known.
‘I already have a great team around me so why run to the labels?’ Young M.A told Forbes when pressed on why, despite her success, she still remains unsigned. The rapper’s independence and self-determination is rooted in her stage name, which stands for ‘Me, Always’, and underlines her ethos, as she told Forbes, ‘it's going to be a little extra work, but it's worth it in the end.’
It’s been little over twelve months since Young M.A released Ooouuu, and the video, posted on her YouTube channel has already seen over 200 million views. Not bad for someone who was behind the tills in TJ Maxx just a few years earlier.
Young M.A was offered a role on the hit American drama series Empire, but turned down the opportunity to be Freda Gratz - or Betty Bars as the character would’ve been known had she accepted the offer. As she explained to Rolling Stone ‘I just didn't want to be known as a character from Empire before I was known as Young M.A.’
Yes, that Queen B. When Beyonce hit social media to thank her followers for their congratulations on her 35th birthday, it was to Young M.A’s Ooouuu that she was dancing on Instagram.
Having danced to Young M.A.’s sound, Beyonce then invited the rapper to open for her at her next performance… at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium… in front of 82,000 people. It was the first time Young M.A had performed outside a club.
‘Anyone who has beef with 50 Cent has beef with me’ Young M.A once proclaimed to her Facebook following, having often cited Many Men from Get Rich or Die Tryin’ as the track that inspired her to rap. A few short years later and the Grammy award winning rapper is now championing Young M.A, delivering the official remix of Ooouuu.
America alone can no longer contain Young M.A’s rise, so now she’s bringing her effortless flow to the UK for the first time for M.I.A.’s Meltdown.
Young M.A plays our Royal Festival Hall as part of M.I.A.’s Meltdown on Saturday 17 June, alongside Canadian rapper and visual artist Tommy Genesis.