Young M.A Booking

Brooklyn indie rapper Young M.A—born Katorah Marrero—is unique among her peers. While her low voice, stud swagger, and off-the-charts machismo may give the impression she uses alternate pronouns, the artist has made it clear she’s perfectly at home in her assigned female gender. She named her 2017 EP Herstory, after all, and followed that up with last year’s critically acclaimed Herstory in the Making. Dedicated to her brother, Kenneth Ramos, who was stabbed to death by a former friend in 2009, Young M.A’s first full-length is a hazy rollercoaster ride through her journey to rap stardom, losing people along the way, and developing some deep-seated trust issues. (After her certified platinum single “OOOUUU”—found on the Herstory EP—garnered loads of attention from labels, she turned them all down, opting to start her own imprint, M.A Music.)

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The extremely raw and personal album makes it plain that Young M.A has the range to be both hard and vulnerable and can rap about pretty much anything. She discusses growing up in Brooklyn, being affected by street violence, her romantic relationships, mental health challenges, and her willingness to arm and defend herself and her loved ones.

M.A had another big moment in terms of public reception with her single “Big.” I’m partial to the music video, and how she raps “Yeah I’m Young Ma but she call me papi,” before doing a solo cha-cha jig for a few bars—her commanding allure perfectly encapsulated. And if this beat sounds reminiscent of Drake’s “Started From the Bottom,” it’s because Mike Zombie (“Zombie on the track!”) produced both. There are too many other album highlights to mention here, but don’t miss “My Hitta” and its music video that’s very obviously inspired by the ride-or-die narrative of Queen & Slim; “Sober Thoughts,” which explores M.A’s darker, more depressive moments; “Stubborn Ass,” about remaining in love inside a complicated relationship; and the catchy R&B-infused anthem “NNAN” (featuring Relle Bey and Max YB) which celebrates independent women who “never need a nigga for nothin’.”

And although occasionally Young M.A includes lyrics that get on my last goddamn nerve (like “Ever since I cheated, baby, you changed” from “Bipolar”), M.A’s fuck-niggatry is somehow... endearing? She’s been making music since she was nine, but she’s still continuing to grow and evolve before our eyes as a twentysomething rapper. (According to a recent press bio, building up more life experience while adjusting to fame is what took the album over two years to complete.)

Still, the 27-year-old clearly has confidence to spare, as proven by her willingness to say no to big labels. And it’s not about the size of the bag either—M.A’s reportedly turned down several deals worth millions of dollars. She’s repeatedly stated that she’s happily independent and hell-bent on maintaining complete control of her art.

She’s also free to be a bonafide entrepreneur, and pursue random side-hustle dreams. M.A formed the Kweens Foundation with her mother, focusing on helping single moms and low-income families, while also reaching out to parents who’ve lost their children to street violence. M.A also directed a porno film in 2018 and says she’d like to do it again in the future. Last year she appeared as a recurring side character in the final season of Mr. Robot. More recently, Young M.A teamed up with Doc Johnson and started selling some Play Nyce dildos on her website (the “Young M.A D” is only $49.95, and the full-blown strap-on kit will run you $159.95).

In a recent interview on Hollywood Unlocked, the rapper says that while she dates women exclusively, she’s “not a lesbian,” clarifying, “I’m just Young M.A.” And while at first this statement is giving a bit of that bizarre “I’m not Black, I’m O.J.” energy, it feels less dismissive of her identity and more like Young M.A is radically claiming her right to love (and fuck) whomever she wants. She also says in the interview that she doesn’t buy into the idea that “female rappers” ought to get a separate category—she’s a rapper, period.

But there’s no way around the fact that there hasn’t been a lot of LGBTQ+ representation in hip-hop; a culture where queer issues are often met with awkward silence. And it makes sense that someone like Young M.A would be accepted in this arena. She frequently raps about wealth, violence, partying, and conquering a slew of pussy. Her videos often feature women in bikinis twerking up against her at house parties, and a great deal of her lyrics are about fucking other niggas’ girlfriends—the kind of explicit content male rappers drop without anyone batting an eyelash. But it’s M.A’s perspective, life experience, superb ear for production and that casual, effortless flow that make her stand out in her class.

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Young M.A may come off as a womanizer in her music, but as she explained in a 2019 interview with The Breakfast Club, she’s really more of a relationship person. That growth is evident on my personal favorite track “She Like I’m Like,” which includes some addictive flute in the production and lyrics emulating an organic, frisky back-and-forth between M.A and her boo.

While Young M.A’s sexuality is definitely part of her content, it’s not a gimmick she’s leaning on. She didn’t set out on some heroic mission to pave the way for other queer rappers. She simply came into the game as the real her—for better or for worse. Now M.A is unintentionally changing the narrative for what is and isn’t acceptable in rap, just by being authentically, unapologetically herself.

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