Premiere: JAXN - "Dosed"
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Listen to the single, below.
How many times have you come face to face with someone you have always admired only to experience disappointment? Add a touch of celebrity to the mix, and the consensus is stars are often far duller than their dazzling online, onscreen, or onair personas suggest. Born Katorah Marrero in Brooklyn, New York, Young M.A is in opposition to “Hollywood” types by being wildly unique, free from gimmicks and forced relationships in order to climb social ladders. She has no interest in riding each new trend to “stay ahead.” No. Young M.A tossed the antiquated music biz shticks in a bin, doused them with gasoline, and currently stands tall holding a book of matches—readying for the blaze. Fraudulent fuckers beware.
Jacket and pants by ICEBERG, shoes by TIMBERLAND
Young M.A has made quite a name for herself with the first single, “OOOUUU” going triple-platinum. She recently landed a guest spot on Sam Esmail’s Emmy award-winning series, Mr. Robot. And with the recent release of her album, Herstory in the Making, she shows no signs of letting up. Young M.A has enough charm, swagger, and talent to win over the toughest of critiques. She is in a lane built solely for her. Fuse all that with the innate aptitude to build an empire, and you have a recipe for success. Frankly, Young M.A.’s only real opponent is the woman in the mirror.
And it’s clear she knows her worth.
In “No Mercy,” the intro to her latest album she raps, “Competition lookin' for me. I was waitin' at the top. But ain't no competition. Ain’t no one in my position.” The 40 million YouTube views on her single “BIG” are a testament that fans have been eager for new music.
So why the two-year gap between albums? From a consumer’s point of view, the wait can seem harshly personal. But Young M.A believes, “Your vision and passions are the two main things you gotta lock-in. I definitely care about how much time is in between projects. I have people out here supporting me. But at the same time, I have to remember that at the end of the day, it’s me being creative. Now I’m not making music for only me, I’m making music for others, and that kind of changes the creative zone.” Piquant points.
As Young M.A steps in front of even bigger screens, all eyes on her. She landed a major cameo on season four of Mr. Robot. “Music is my first love, but I’m the type of person who likes to try new things. I’m not a routine person. I like challenges, so I’ve been into acting. Just being on set with the actors taught me so much. That was my first time acting and dealing with casting, a director, or anything like that. My character’s name is Peanuts [We both laugh]. It was fun and interesting, and I was grateful for being on set.” She also taught writer, producer, director, Sam Esmail how to dap.
Jacket, pants and shirt by HOOD BY AIR, shoes by TIMBERLAND
Prior to the limelight and custom-made diamond grills, Young M.A had been honing her hustle, proving to herself that she could play and win with whatever cards were dealt. Those cards were messed up. As if high school wasn’t tough enough, Young M.A was hit with some heavy life changes. Just before starting her senior year, her brother, Kenneth was tragically killed. She speaks his name often to keep his memory alive. She gets still and recalls. “My senior year was a disaster. I had to catch up on top of dealing with death and being in a new school. It was a challenge, but it was something I knew I had to accomplish. There were plenty of times I felt like giving up, but I knew I couldn’t. And on top of that, I was figuring out my sexuality.”
Her pain and subsequent triumphs are felt—not only through the way she carries herself, but also in her lyrics as she paints pictures. And with catchy lyrics like, “Yeah I’m Young M.A., but she call me papi,” I think it’s safe to say she’s figured things out.
Sweater by ICEBERG
Young M.A is relatable, talented, and genuine. The importance of moral codes that uphold honor and integrity is not lost on the 27-year-old. It’s in her DNA. Her foundation was solid long before she stepped on the rap scene. “My mom was a hustler, and she made it happen. Just watching her as a kid, seeing her handle her business taught me so much on what I needed to do. When we lost my brother, I knew I had to take the lead and take charge. My mom had to work since my brother passed away, so I got a job as soon as I graduated high school. I constantly worked until I became who I am today.”
Young M.A also took notes from industry pioneers—50 Cent and Jay-Z. “Music-wise, I listened to so many artists. I studied the game. Musically, 50 Cent is one of my biggest influences. Jay-Z inspires me by his mental; how smart he is and being from Brooklyn. His change from being this rapper into being a businessman. To this day, Jay-Z inspires me the most. And it put me in a position to understand not what I want to do, but what I need to do.”
Left - Sweater by HOOD BY AIR, jeans by ICEBERG, shoes by TIMBERLAND
Top Right - Jacket and pants by ICEBERG
Top Left - Sweater by ICEBERG, vest and pants by A-COLD-WALL* X DIESEL
Before Young M.A and I got into the conversation about drug abuse and the impact on young people, namely artists who’ve passed away too soon, the noise level in the studio began to rise. Young M.A had no problem silencing the room: “Yerrr! Can y’all keep it down, please.” As she turned back to me, I could hear the sincerity in her voice, “This is really serious. This is something I want to be heard.” With the passing of rapper Juice WRLD still weighing heavy on my heart, I too am searching for clarity. Young M.A adjusts the volume in her voice to explain her viewpoint:
"I just want kids to understand. They hear certain things in music like, 'I took this drug to get over this,' and kids will believe it. They’ll go through one heartbreak and feel like they gotta take a drug then become addicted. And I think people don’t speak on that part. That’s literally the root. Let’s start from where it begins, instead of saying where it ended. I just think kids are not understanding that life is gonna be what life is. It’s not perfect; it’s not gonna be easy. And I think we’re being taught that certain things are supposed to be a certain way, and if it’s not, then we’re supposed to numb the pain with drugs. I just want the youth to understand there's no excuse. Even if you’ve been through the worst of the worst, drugs are not the way at all. You’re gonna go through heartbreaks, you’re gonna go through parents telling you what you don’t need to be doing, you might feel like running away sometimes. I feel like this younger generation is a little more vulnerable. I definitely feel artists have a responsibility and play a part in what’s going on. Where else are they getting it from?"
A rhetorical question in need of an answer. I will do my part and keep the conversations on this subject going.
As my time with Young M.A neared its end, I felt as though I had known her for years. I was happy to have shared that time with her. As a bonus, I was not in the least bit disappointed!
I got in the car, plugged in my earphones, and hit play on Herstory in the Making. Young M.A—a true mensch indeed.
Proving her range yet again while perhaps giving a glimpse of the experimental sound to come, Shake’s new single proves to be as complex as the subject of the single’s nature as the artist states in the video’s opener, “Although I am not a boy, I wanted to display a boy being broken. How he manages his sadness. When he is not allowed to cry. From young, a boy must create a shell that protects him from his own emotions. But when that shell cracks, it creates an intense amount of vulnerability where the boy must replace the shell with actions that make him seem as if the shell never broke. He replaces this shell with ego, desire, and pride.”
Modus Vivendi is out next Friday, January 17. Until then, watch the music video for "Guily Conscience" below.
How did you two meet?
Clair — I guess it was my fault. We started following each other on Twitter, and then one day I went through all of her tweets and liked so many.
Coco — Like, 20.
Clair — And then she added me and was like, “Uh, hi, what’s up?”
Coco — As in, can I help you?
Clair — I was like, “Hi, haha.” And then she invited me to a party far away in Athens. So the first time we hung out we took a two hour car ride.
Coco — It’s one hour.
Clair — It’s, like, a two hour car ride to Athens.
It’s two when it’s with a stranger.
Coco — It’s one hour. From my house, it’s 56 minutes.
Clair — How can that be?! From my house, it's two hours and 30 minutes, and I live ten minutes from you.
Coco — That’s not real.
Clair — Anyways we went to that party. We both really liked Patsy Cline, so we connected over that.
Coco — I remember that.
Clair — And then we just started hanging out after class. I was in college at the time, and her boyfriend was a rapper, and he had a beat that he wanted us to get on—
Coco — Look at that. [Shows Google Maps] An hour and 22 minutes. You said two hours!
Clair — I drive slower! She doesn’t know my address. So her boyfriend at the time had a beat and we were just playing around.
Coco — I told him to sample Reading Rainbow, and he did it, and he wouldn’t use it. He was like, “This is too much of a Soulja Boy beat. This isn’t my shit,” because he was on his Lil Peep type mess, and then Clair came over and we were like, [Little girl voice] “Please can we just play on it?” And we freestyled on it.
Clair — Little crackheads from the start.
Coco — We did the whole song completely freestyle, and then we uploaded it to Soundcloud, and while we were at the party, it already had 300 plays and it was like—what? That’s kind of weird.
Clair — We crashed some party, and we took over the aux and were playing our song “Posh.”
That’s really love at first sight. Had either of you made music before?
Coco — I did, just for fun. I got a Macbook in eighth grade and I would just play on GarageBand with my friend. We made a song called “Valley Mixdown,” because there was this club by my house called The Valley. It looked like the craziest club ever, but we never went in, because we were too young. We just made this verse about farming on FarmVille, and mine was about Tumblarity and Tumblr. It was really nuts.
Clair — I never made music. I always wanted to, but I don’t even think we tried to make it happen. When we made our first song, we were just like, “This is funny.”
What made you keep going then?
Clair — We were really egged on by a lot of people who were like, “This is actually good.” I was never really into Soundcloud rock. I think you and your boyfriend were into it and thought that it made sense. And then we made “Knife Play” and all these other songs in like an hour.
Coco — He would only allow us an hour.
Clair — He was crazy. He was so mean! I remember one time it was like 11 o’clock at night, and we ordered this pizza, because we were starved. It was like he was Phil Spector and we were the Ronettes. He orders us this pizza. And he was recording an album at the time, and we were like, “Can we please do one song?” And I had eaten so much pizza that my mouth was coated in butter, and he was like, “I can’t record you, because I can hear the butter in your voice.”
Coco — You were like, sticky.
Clair — He hated my butter voice. But he let us play shows with him every now and then. And this was when Playboi Carti wasn’t famous.
Coco — So we played a couple of shows with Playboi Carti.
Clair — It was nuts. He would show up and be like, “Where’s my $20 for showing up?!”
Coco — Clair was his phone screensaver for like a week.
Clair — We played a show with him, our first show. He played some, and then we played some, and then her boyfriend took us to a parking lot and was like, [Deep voice] “Do you think that was good?” And I cried. I was like, “We’re done, we’re never going to make it.” He was like “You giggled the whole time!” I still giggle. I can’t take the pressure.
Coco — “Did you think that was good?” [Cackles] Like, we’re not even getting paid.
Clair — But it was always fun. It gave us a reason to write and let loose a little bit.
Is it more serious now?
Coco— I think so.
Clair— It definitely is. When I thought I was moving here, we busted ass to make our first album Posh, and when we put that out, it definitely became a little more serious. It was on all streaming services, and people started paying attention. But we still don’t really feel ready to dive into touring and the bigger world of things. We’re trying to keep it fun and precious. We’re still not even used to venues. We love a good chaotic house show.
Coco— I’d rather people feel like they can go to the backyard and smoke a joint while we’re playing. We want everyone to have fun. But we do take our time with things now, we’re picky with beats. We brainstorm a lot.
You’re great writers.
Coco— It’s a nuts process.
Clair— We have suburb nights when I’m back in Georgia and we’re just at my parent’s house drinking their liquor, and we’re like, “What if we wrote about this?” And then we go into my sister’s closet to record. We recorded Posh entirely in my kitchen. Drunk. Or not drunk—mostly drunk?
Coco— There’s a picture of you holding a bottle of vodka while we’re recording, so I’m pretty sure we were drunk.
Clair— It is magic.
So you have people trying to manage you and get you to take it seriously, but you’re still trying to keep it whimsical?
Clair— Yeah, whimsical is a good word I think. I feel personally very anti-label, anti-manager, anti-being told what to do, but we’ve realized it’s stressful to have emails coming in, having people wanting to book us and fly us places. We don’t know how to negotiate—we never did it for money.
Coco— We would ask for the minimum, and people would be like, you know you can get x amount, right?
Clair— We know that much at least now. The past year has been interesting. We created our own company.
Coco— Oh yeah, we have an LLC. Straight Crack Rock. It’s Playboi Carti’s baby mama’s lyric. “It’s Iggy not Jigga!” We know it by heart. I watch it actually every day.
Clair— We went to the bank, and we were setting it up and the bank teller was like, "So what’s the business name?” And we were giggling like, “I don’t want to say it.” We slipped him a piece of paper. He didn’t even giggle, he was just like, “Okay, Straight Crack Rock.”
Coco— That’s the one thing Iggy has given us.
Clair— I think we come from a funny place, because we didn’t think this would ever happen.
Coco— I feel like this is cool because we never really put that much energy into it. Not that our goal is to be famous, but I personally am curious as to what would happen if we did put that energy into it.
Y’all talk a big game about being cute but psycho. Is that just the music, or is that real life?
Coco— That’s real life, honey.
Clair— It’s true, really unfortunately true. She’s mentally psycho. I guess we’re both psycho.
Coco— I like playing games. I’m a Pisces.
Clair— I’m an Aquarius. I don’t play games, but I like to act like I can fight. She plays mental games.
Coco— And I can fight. I’ve never been in a fight before because no one will let me.
Clair— You just gotta start swinging. I know people will hold me back, because nothing’s ever going to happen. I was at a bar not that long ago—
Coco— You choked a guy at McDonald’s not that long ago!
Clair— I did, I did. We were at McDonald’s on Essex. It’s a dark place. I tried to get fries at 3 a.m., and they were like, “No, we’re closed between 3 and 4 am.” That makes no sense? I was pissed. So I walk out, and I’m in the doorway telling our friends about how we can’t get french fries, and this old Australian man has the nerve to walk in. He picks me up by my shoulders and moves me like I’m a Sim because he wants to get in the doorway. He walks to the counter, and I’m like, “Oh, this motherfucker thinks he can order,” so I run over to the counter, and I’m like, “Oh, hi! They’re actually closed.” He’s not listening to me, and I’m thinking, if he gets to eat, I get to eat, I swear to god I will ruin everyone’s life tonight. I was being a brat, and the Australian packs up his wallet and walks out the door.
I was like, “This is not over,” I said to him. “Do you remember when you touched me back there?” And he told me to leave him alone, and I lost my mind. I rip off my blazer and I’m bolting down Essex chasing this man and I get him in a chokehold against the wall, and I’m like “Don’t you ever fucking touch me again!”
Coco— Did he say anything to you?!
Clair— He was like, “Abuse, abuse!” I can lose my mind. I’m not scary is the thing. Cute but psycho I guess. I think people think she’s the crazy mean one but I’m actually the one that will in-your-face scream. But behind closed doors I’m very smart and calm. She’s like, mentally deranged.
Coco— Just a little bit. A wee bit!
Clair— So we keep it psycho. Correct.
Check back in on Coco & Clair Clair in March for their upcoming EP.