This past Thursday afternoon, The FADER's president and publisher Andy Cohn sat down with former FADER cover star Young M.A for a discussion at the Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn as part of the borough's annual Northside Festival. Sitting in director's chairs in front of about 40 attendees, the two discussed the N.Y.C. rapper's rise to fame and how she incorporates her identity and her city into her songs. They also shared intimate anecdotes on how they’ve learned to use personal grief as a motivator. By the end of the half-hour conversation, the charismatic rapper left the audience feeling inspired with her words of wisdom.
Here are some of the insights Young M.A shared about her rise to success — which also serve as crucial advice for new artists.
1. "The best feeling is to be okay with you and to express that with the world."
2. "Why pretend to be something you're not when you've got billions of people that's in the same situation as you?"
3. "I never put a label on myself. When I did music I just said what I felt. It wasn't where I be like, 'oh, I'm a gay rapper.' No, I just came up as Young M.A, and I represented my name. That was me."
4. "If you don't have critics, you're not doing something right. If you don't have haters, you ain't poppin."
5. "New York know when you're being fake. They know what's real and what's fake. They only mess with what's real."
6. "I still keep the New York sound. New York is the originators. We are originators. A lot of people don't think about that. They don't put that out there. This is where hip-hop was born. I don't ever forget that."
7. "Money’s gonna come, you just gotta work for it. Every dollar is not a good dollar."
8. "Music is really my therapy because I don't really speak about what I go through. I hold it down, but when I'm doing music, I feel like it's the best way to do it because it's something I'm good at and been good at, and I love it."