It’s been almost exactly one year since Young M.A released her mixtape Sleep Walkin, my personal introduction to the young Brooklynite. I had actually seen her video for “Act’n Up” first, and immediately took to Google to learn more.
Sleep Walkin wasn’t an instant classic, but the quality was definitely there, and what was apparent over everything else was how fuckin’ Brooklyn she was.
The second track on the mixtape, a freestyle over the classic Mobb Deep record of the same title, quickly took me back to hearing legendary BK figure Biggie bounce atop records, shit talking with such an ease that it has become the measurement by which his contemporaries are compared.
Many of M.A's releases carry a similar aesthetic, drawing influence from styles championed by other BK vets like Sticky Fingaz, AZ, and Lil’ Kim, but with a refreshing update that incorporates more contemporary influences without losing that baseline Brooklyn feel.
After years of grinding in the underground with mixtapes and semi-viral freestyle videos, Young M.A has recently seen the spotlight point her way with the fevered reception of her single “OOOUUU,” which is currently garnering a million views a day on YouTube.
Musically, Young M.A is filling the gap that Bobby Shmurda attempted to plug before his arrest, plea deal, and subsequent prison sentence. Both artists’ styles are unmistakably products of Brooklyn, and despite their differences, there’s a clear likeness that has garnered “OOOUUU” comparisons to Shmurda’s “Hot Nigga.”
In fact, when Complex interviewed Shmurda from prison, they asked him if he had heard the song and what his thoughts were on the track, to which he responded, “I feel like it sounds like Brooklyn. It sounds like it’s supposed to sound like. She’s doing what she has to do, just show love.”
In Shmurda’s absence, Young M.A is tasked with carrying the musical torch that her Brooklyn upbringing left her with (along with, uh, Desiigner?). In the midst of a hip-hop climate that’s spent the last few years desperately cashing in on the South’s sonic dominance, Young M.A is determined to remind the world how Brooklyn is supposed to sound: gritty, suave, confident—in short, unapologetically New York.
While we wait to see what Young M.A does with her newly acquired fame, a quick listen to her back catalog will offer a solid clue as to what direction she’s pursuing musically.
Young M.A has officially arrived—and she’s bringing Brooklyn with her.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: a piece by guy