» mu­sic re­views

Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - THE FACTS ISSUE - Re­view by Erica Bud­ding­ton illustration by Loveis Wise { In­de­pen­dent }

Her­story, Chastity Belt, ISON, and more.

Ispent my col­lege years in the mid­dle of Vir­ginia on a cam­pus full of Black, cul­tured, and rhyth­mic peers. Our kick­backs were leg­endary. djs pan­dered to us through re­gional clas­sics and an­thems that would re­veal the state you were from the mo­ment it dropped. If you were from Mary­land, UCB’S “Sexy Lady” would have you stomp­ing your feet. Chicagoans were step­pers who cir­cled the dance floor like vul­tures for juke. Cal­i­for­nia would get hy­phy and krump their way through soror­ity and fra­ter­nity lines, and New York would start jump­ing in the air to any­thing by Dipset, Jay-z, or 50 Cent.

This is how I imag­ine the cur­rent fresh­man class of my hbcu. Although we are years apart, the right song will still bring us to the yard or stu­dent cen­ter in droves. And if I were do­ing it all again, I’d throw my­self onto the dance floor any­time I heard Young M.A. Young M.A takes me back home to Brook­lyn. Her mu­sic is a con­tin­u­a­tion of my in­ter­nal con­flict about loving hip hop: misog­y­noir mixed with heavy 808s, and brag­gadoci0-filled lyrics that make me for­get it all. If I am ever yearn­ing for Brook­lyn, I im­merse my­self in Her­story, Young M.A’S seven-track ep.

The in­tro­duc­tion is clas­sic. Bor­ough rap­pers are known for blaz­ing in on their in­tro­duc­tory tracks, in­tent on set­ting the tone for the al­bum through ca­dence. Think Nas’s “N.Y. State of Mind” af­ter a dra­matic dj in­tro on Ill­matic, or Jay-z’s “Can’t Knock the Hus­tle” on Rea­son­able Doubt. M.A fol­lows this tra­di­tion, dropping a man­i­festo on her in­tro­duc­tory track: “Went from un­der­rated to most hated/ From a no­body to a Young M.A/ Even white peo­ple know me, like/ That’s Young M.A! No fuckin’ way!” She pays homage to Jay-z with the line, “Got the bad­dest bitch in the game wearin’ my chain,” mir­ror­ing his in­fa­mous line from the in­ter­lude “Pub­lic Ser­vice An­nounce­ment.” It’s ev­i­dent that Young M.A is also rein­tro­duc­ing her­self. Based on the freestyles “Oh My Gawdd” and “Kween,” we know she has lyri­cal prow­ess, with hard-hit­ting, gritty bars. How­ever, on this project, M.A institutes a fluc­tu­at­ing

flow that is singsongy, laid-back, and filled with metas.

Next up is a strip-club jam with a slowwind beat rem­i­nis­cent of her 2016 hit “OOOUUU.” “Hot Sauce” is a get­away for the in­di­vid­ual frus­trated with the con­fines of a re­la­tion­ship and ca­reer. It is a night off among women, liquor, and ego. In an­other big up to one of the artists M.A grew up lis­ten­ing to, she raps be­tween Mon­ica’s re­hash­ing of the time­less “Don’t Take It Per­sonal (Just One of Dem Days).” The song “JOOTD” re­sounds like an in­ter­val, with two sim­ple verses and a repet­i­tive hook.

“Self M.ade” fol­lows this track and ad­dresses crit­i­cism about her use of mur­der and drugs in her mu­sic:

They say that I ma­nip­u­late the youth/ Nah, don’t get it wrong, I speak the truth/ This is deeper than the roots, look around you see the proof/ No ex­cuse, but what you see is noth­ing new.

This is M.A’S story, and her work re­flects the things she’s seen. She wants the lis­tener to un­der­stand that her lyrics are her eyes and they aren’t be­ing used for fame, but rather to sit­u­ate her­self.

“Bon­nie” is a love let­ter. Its pro­duc­tion sounds like a slowed-down ver­sion of Lil’ Kim’s “Crush on You (Remix).” It’s ev­i­dent that M.A is pro­pelled by the rap­pers who came be­fore her: Kim has ap­peared on her In­sta­gram, she’s used the beat in Kim’s “Money, Power, Re­spect” for her song

“EAT,” and they’ve shared Hot 97’s Sum­mer Jam stage. “Bon­nie” is truly a ride-or-die track, one we’ve seen time and time again, ex­e­cuted with the in­tent to ex­press longevity and latch­ing.

Young M.A ends the al­bum with “Same Set” and “OOOUUU.” Both tracks are per­fect for a New York sum­mer. It’s al­ways th­ese sto­ries that brought me back home, whether I was in the com­fort of my South­ern dorm room or on the steps of my grand­mother’s home in East Flat­bush.

M.A is def­i­nitely from my bor­ough. De­spite her con­tro­ver­sial themes, she is a re­verb of the cipher, a new rung of New York’s hip-hop greats. She re­spects their jour­neys, but is in­tent on mak­ing her own us­ing the only con­text she knows: home.

This sum­mer it will be more than a cul­mi­na­tion of tales that brings me back to Brook­lyn. Her­story will bring me back too.

De­spite her con­tro­ver­sial themes, Young M.A is a re­verb of the cipher, a new rung of New York’s hip-hop greats.

Buy it now

Buy a few of the tracks Stream it and de­cide Pass

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