Sounds Like: Strolling down a Brownsville sidewalk with your girl and your pet pit bull
For Fans of: Bobby Shmurda, French Montana, 50 Cent
Why You Should Pay Attention: With her New York anthem "Ooouuu" cracking the Billboard Hot 100, Young M.A has brought an astonishingly original image to the rap world. She's a street rapper who talks unapologetically about sexing the ladies, downing bottles of Hennessey and bringing enough lyrical skills to "body" any rapper – male or female – that opposes her. "Ooouuu" is the latest peak for an artist who has been uploading her freestyles and tracks to the Internet since she was in high school. After forming RedLyfe with some Brooklyn friends, she released a freestyle over the late Young Pappy's "Chiraq" that has earned 5 million YouTube views since 2014. Other viral hits followed like "Girlfriend" and "Karma Krys," where she raps about her relationships with women with tough love and sensitivity. But it's "Ooouuu" that has broken her out of the NYC rap ghetto, earned remixes from veterans like Jadakiss and Nicki Minaj, and major labels offers from Universal and Atlantic. "Beyoncé used the record on her Instagram video," she says appreciatively. "That's the one that got to me the most."
They Say: Before "Ooouuu" took off, Young M.A got an offer to join the cast of the TV soap opera Empire. "I actually turned it down. I just didn't want to be known as a character from Empire before I was known as Young M.A," she says. "They was trying to make me, um … some type of girl name in there, I think it's Freda Gatz? The initial name was Betty Bars. Everything they wrote, like, everything [rapper/actress Bre-Z] is playing in the scenes was written for me. That's why she's from Brooklyn in the show. But I turned it down, that's why they got someone else to do it. It just wasn't for me."
Hear it for Yourself: On "Summer Story," Young M.A celebrates the warm months over a loop from Audio Two's "Top Billin'." Mosi Reeves