Fuse is celebrating Pride Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future LGBTQ History before our eyes. Today we're paying tribute to Young M.A, the 25-year-old independent rapper who'll be the one responsible when the word headphanie makes it into the dictionary.
Born Katorah Marrero in Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood in 1992, she began rapping as a 9-year-old and dropped her first music, a pair of mixtapes, in 2015. Tracks like "Body Bag" and a remix of Nicki Minaj's "Chiraq" got attention, but May 2016's "OOOUUU" was on a whole other level. She was nervous about dropping it at first, telling Fuse:
"I didn't know how people were going to take to it, because it wasn't me crazy spitting bars, storytelling or whatever the case that people were so used to me doing. ... People was listening to it, vibing out to it, like 'Yo, this is crazy, this is hot.' But it wasn't until I put out the visual, that's was what really caught people...that's what really caught it, the visual, and people seeing how we move to the song."
With lyrics like "I think I been gay since like the first grade / And shit, I been gettin' bitches since the third grade," Young M.A wears her sexuality proudly—and, unlike almost any gay rapper operating on a public scale, gets deep into the actual particulars of her sex life. “Once I became myself, the music was a wrap," she told The Guardian earlier this month. "Music is my expression. Music is my release. Music is my therapy. This is where I’m going to speak about my sexuality. I’ve held it in for so long, now I can express it.”
Young M.A came out at 18. In 2012 she posted three YouTube videos as Kat Kasanova, where she was candid, informative, frustrated, scolding, silly and imperfect all at once. Now she's eager for the conversation around her to broaden—and confident she'll pull it off. “If I change people’s lives, that’s all that matters to me,” she said in a big February profile in The Fader. “I don’t want to be the first ‘dyke rapper,’ ‘aggressive rapper,’ you know what I mean? I don’t care for that.”
In April she put out the Herstory EP, her first commercial release, on her own M.A Music imprint. Her flow of music videos remains constant and, as she intends, consistent and unique. It's burningly clear all this art comes straight from her. "I just want people to know that I can build me by being me and only me," she told Fuse. "I don't need nobody else to make me hot."
She really, really doesn't, and she's proving it, closing in on 3.5 million followers between her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. "I hear from all different people, not just people like me, or lesbians," she told said in the Fader piece, going on:
"It be straight people, it be grown men, it be grown women, people that have been sick or depressed that say, ‘Oh, you made me want to go do what I want to do for myself and chase my dreams.’ That’s my purpose.”
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Next, Young M.A talks more about her distrust of labels: