Young MA: Nobody’s opinion matters when you believe in what you wanna do
The groundbreaking rapper on being out in hip hop, what Tori thinks of her career and how she felt when she opened for Beyonce.
Young MA’s upcoming album is called HerStory In The Making, a fitting title for such a boundary-smashing artist. At just 25, she’s the first out lesbian to make it in the straight, male-dominated world of hip hop. Her debut single Ooouuu has racked up over 200 million YouTube views and counting and it’s far from your average rap record. Check out the video and see for yourself why MA is so incredible.
We caught up with the woman herself ahead of her performance at M.I.A.’s Meltdown Festival at London’s Southbank.
DIVA: You have so many fans around the world. How does it feel to have affected all these people in such a positive way?
YOUNG MA: It’s my uplift every day, my motivation. Without them I’d probably be back doing what I was doing before - just in the streets, not knowing what I was doing with my life.
Your fans find you so inspiring. What advice would you give them?
I really want people to know that anything is possible. Don’t let nobody stop you from doing what you wanna do with yourself. Nobody can’t make decisions for you, nobody can’t make you do anything. Nobody’s opinion matters when you believe in what you wanna do.
You’ve already achieved so many amazing things. Congratulations on opening for Beyonce on the Formation tour!
Oh, that was crazy. There were so many people! You see so much love. That’s the best feeling in the world, right there.
I haven’t played any arenas myself but it sounds lovely. Did you get to meet Beyonce?
Nah, I didn’t unfortunately. I had another show right after so we had to shoot to another town. I actually got to meet Jay Z on the way out though. It was almost meeting Beyonce, but not Beyonce.
What’s it like being openly gay in hip hop?
Anybody that comes up to me is always just like, “Yo, I love your music, you’re dope.” It’s never, “You’re a dope gay rapper.” It’s always so genuine and normal that it almost feels like I’m not gay. At the time hip hop never really accepted that kind of stuff so to get recognition like this and have people really respect that about me, it’s dope.
What does your girlfriend, Tori Brixx, make of your career?
She’s cool, she’s cool. She’s definitely understanding because she’s in the business as well. It’s all good. We just have fun.
We can’t wait to see you perform at M.I.A.’s Meltdown Festival. Have you been to the UK before?
No and I can’t wait.
Do you have any expectations of what it will be like?
Nah and I don’t want to. I want to come out there and be totally surprised. I want that feeling, I’m excited. I can’t wait to just feel embraced by the love. I know it’s a different love to America. You guys appreciate the music a little more.
Let’s talk about the music. Who are your top three inspirational artists?
There were so many dope artists just coming up in my time, like 50 Cent - he was on fire. He was a big inspiration on why I wanted to keep being a rapper. Jay Z definitely is a big influence as one of the kings of Brooklyn and Eve was a big influence. She reminded me of a tomboy as well. There’s so much more but those are my top three.
You’ve released your brilliant EP Herstory. Will there be an album to follow?
Yes, yes. I will be dropping an album this year guaranteed.
Can you reveal anything about it?
The album is gonna be the big body of work where you actually feel like you’re stepping in my shoes for those minutes that you hear the album. Everything is gonna be real. I just want people to hear my story and that’s why it’s gonna be called Herstory In The Making.
Lastly, why did you choose Young MA as your name?
It was originally Young Ma but at the time a lot of female rappers were Ma so I had to make it stand out. And people are gonna ask, “What does the MA mean?” So I gave it a meaning. Nothing crazy, just “Me Always” because I’m always gonna be me, whatever.
M.I.A.'s Meltdown festival is on at London's Southbank Centre 9 - 18 June. Young MA is performing on 17 June. You can get tickets at southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series/meltdown
Look out for more from Young MA in the July issue of DIVA, on sale soon via the links below.
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