It’s been just over three years since the impossibly catchy single “Ooouuu” introduced the world to Young M.A, jump-starting a swell of anticipation for the Brooklyn rapper’s studio debut. With the expansive Herstory in the Making, the wait is finally over. A showcase of the nimbleness evident from the moment she was introduced, the album paints Young M.A in varying shades. In some moments, she’s all flirtatious bravado and larger-than-life airs; in others, a hardened, occasionally sad product of the streets with nothing to lose and everything to prove.
That malleability underscores her lyrical skills, which are undeniable—especially in freestyles—but her sexuality and how she rails against rap’s heteronormativity feel like nothing less than a small revolution. The women in her life (or perhaps just in her bedroom) are present in every corner of the record, and the casual cool with which Young M.A. raps about relationships with them feels at once subversive and perfectly ordinary. The confidence that propels songs like “PettyWap” or “BIG” channels the swagger of her male peers, but one-off lines like the assertion “I wasn’t welcomed, I imposed” on the opening track “No Mercy” remind us that, as hip-hop goes, she’s still an anomaly.
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