Young M.A’s breakout single “OOOUUU” released in 2016 and introduced the world to her sound and international appeal. Now, three years later she releases her debut full-length project Herstory in the Making laced in 21 tracks amid production from Zaytoven, Mike Zombie, Antwan “Amadeus” Thompson and NY Bangers. Calculated, never rushed, intentional, never rash – the Brooklyn spitter has clearly taken her time to mold this project, independently so, but was it time well spent? – Of the project’s content she states, “You're gonna get the cocky joints, the slick talk joints where I talk my talk, but then I'm gonna get personal. Real personal. That's why this album is called Herstory In The Making, because it's about all sides of me. People will hear this album and say, 'I had no idea she was going through all that.' I don't put myself out there on social media. I save it for the music, and I write it all. This is all me."
We’ve all heard some of the album tracks like “Car Confessions,” “BIG,” “Stubborn A**,” both installments of “PettyWap,” “Bleed” and most recently the intro album record “No Mercy.” The intro to the album possesses that grittiness she’s known for and “Car Confessions,” revels in her knack for storytelling but overall this is not the lyrically dense album I expected. The hunger she presented in freestyles like “Eat” and “Brooklyn Cypha,” garnered her a seat in chairs next to other legendary lyricists of this generation. However, her execution is so lax on most of the records that it doesn’t even listen with any real passion. Records like “Numb” are just that, void of real feeling, from a performance standpoint and the album keeps that sort of perfunctory demeanor, for the most part – The fervor she had on her 2015 project SleepWalkin, which featured hits like “Through the Day” and “Ether” made her a mark of pure, undeniable lyricism. Notable classics like “Summer Story” made her a hit across multiple genres of hip-hop and RnB. However, now “cool music” seems to be her drift. She’s making music that sounds “cool” from a commercial standpoint but do fans view her as a commercial artist?
I believe that there is beauty in struggle. However, when an artist builds her fan base off of her relatable struggle amid her conspicuous aptitude for rapping, we still expect that same grit no matter what comforts life may have thrown her way. For some musicians, the problem with becoming financially successful is that your original fan base is probably still hugging the block, living paycheck to paycheck – When her lyrics go from, “I'm just tryna make it through the day / And I just wanna get away / So I'ma inhale until I'm out of breath / And I'ma drink this bottle 'til it's nothing left,” to “Teacher said you'll never make it / Turn my textbook to a checkbook / I put food on the table / And I did that without a cookbook / I'm rich and they fucking hate it /And while they looking mad, I'm just looking good.” Now, let’s be clear, her evolution financially is deserved and notable but being broke causes you to rap from a place of hope, from a place where you long to change your current circumstances and her records used to bleed with that ravenous desire to make it out of poverty but also to prove herself as a notable MC – However, now she has money, thus she’s rapping about that but not colorfully so. Records like “RNID (Rich N**** I.D” and “BIG” off this recent album may resonate with some but not all. However, tracks like “No Mercy,” “Da Come Up,” “No Love,” “Bleed” and “Car Confessions,” reek with that lyrical tenacity she’s most noted for. Those five aforementioned records are the most reminiscent of her earlier works. However, tunes like “She Like I’m Like,” “Foreign” and “My Hitta,” may garner her some commercial success but lyrically they are not particularly impressive. However, let’s be clear, this album does have appeal, it does have lyricism, it does have heart but I believe she’s still trying to find her sound amid adjusting to her life’s current affluent circumstances – The beauty of MC's like JAY-Z, lie in his ability to become a millionaire without losing the ear of the streets. He went from Reasonable Doubt to 4:44 but he elevated his pen to his circumstances. His lyrics never lost their “hood-flair” but evolved to fit his present success.
This album needed to be her defining moment, the moment where fans and naysayers alike realize why she still deserves to be discussed in topics of hip-hop eminence but did it accomplish that? For me, no, I know she has better music in her and although she will ride the wave of this album and push it to the fullest extent, it’s her next album that I believe will give birth to her sculpted sound. This album struggles from a conception standpoint. She knows how to make songs, but does she make records? Young M.A seems like the type of artist that allows her musical creation process to be an idle moment. However, it never hurts to pull on the ears and tutelage of other music aficionados to enhance her sound – It’s hard to sit on the teeterboard between mainstream success and hood-fame but can she comfortably rest in the middle? Only time will tell – Brooklyn is home to some of the most notorious MC's to ever touch a microphone. Can Young M.A remain in that running with this most recent release? In my opinion, it’s possible, but I know that she has better in her, more to give, more to say. Next time let's hope she takes it back to the grit of 2015.