Last Friday, Sept. 27, Rapper Young M.A. (pronounced M-A, not ma) released her debut album titled “Herstory in the Making”. M.A. gained widespread fame for her 2016 hit song “Ooouuu”, and while casual music fans have likely not heard of her since then, M.A.’s album proves that this hit song was no fluke.

“Herstory in the Making”s opening song “No Mercy (Intro)” provides listeners with a pretty accurate preview of what to expect for the next sixty-plus minutes of music. The song finds M.A.’s smooth, quick rhymes building up into an energized stop-and-go sprint over the aggressively delicate piano-centered instrumental. More specifically, one line from this song may encompass the album’s entire message: “I put her in history and showed her ‘round the globe/This about to be the greatest story never told.” Fame certainly has not changed M.A., for the same humble, clever persona conveyed in her early music remains present throughout the album.

The album creates a very personal experience for the listener. M.A. uses scarcely any feature artists. The album finds M.A. creating many intimately personal moments such as songs “No Love” and “Sober Thoughts.” M.A. does not hesitate to share the profoundness of her personal pain, much of which results from the death of her brother a few years ago. Her song “Numb” explains the eagerness to use drugs in order to erase this chronic pain. “Car Confessions” also possesses this transparency. The song’s lines “Hoping to find hope in this hopeless world we live in” and “I been in the dark, but I promise you’ll see a brighter me” make it impossible for you to not want to root for this voice behind the microphone to conquer all of the adversity in her life.

M.A.’s album is not a project driven home by the same message. For every inspirational line about overcoming adversity or persevering through pain, M.A. makes sure to compensate with plenty of brags about her rap accomplishments, sexual feats, and militant lifestyle.  Her distinct voice helps the album carry a signature sound, but M.A. switches up her rhyme scheme just enough to ensure she does not bore the listener with repetition. The production on songs such as “She Like I’m Like” and “NNAN” allows M.A. to create slightly more upbeat and fun vibe. One of the albums coolest moments is the song “Kold World”, where M.A. displays her skillset over the unique production of hip-hop innovator Zaytoven. The beat does not match M.A.’s normal production choice, but she sounds right at home, rapping about the journey that has brought her to her current place in life. These songs establish a strong balance with the slower and more production of songs like “BIG,” which find M.A. using her signature flow to sound as brash and witty as ever.

“Herstory in the Making” is neither a female rap album nor a LGBTQ album, and M.A. does not want it to be. M.A. most certainly expresses her identity as a female woman with romantic affection solely for other women, but this aspect of her identity does not define her music. M.A. demands respect as a rapper, without any titles to categorize her into subgroups or exclude her from the majority of her male, heterosexual peers. That being said, the title “Herstory in the Making” certainly possesses some significance. Her sexuality and gender make her story special, but they merely contribute to the rest of the persona present on this 21 track project.  The album displays how in this hypermasculine genre, M.A. belongs right alongside the rap game’s most engrossing and impressive talents.

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