At this point, making history — ahem, herstory — must come easy to Young M.A. After all, Herstory in the Making was the name of her debut album released earlier this year. With the Brooklyn native landing a spot on our 2019 Out100 as Rapper of the Year, she makes history, herstory, and theirstory as the first LGBTQ+ rapper to grace the cover of the magazine.
“I was like, ‘Hello!’” she laughed when asked about the magazine’s initial offer.
Founded in 1992, Out has long championed LGBTQ+ musicians across genres with artists of all stripes as cover stars. Rap and hip-hop artists however, though highlighted throughout the pages of the magazine and on Out.com, have often not landed such coveted print real estate. In fact, a cursory search of the Out archives shows only two other hip-hop artists have ever gotten the front page treatment — Lil’ Kim in 1999 and Nicki Minaj in 2010.
During her Out100 cover shoot and interview, M.A mentioned she hesitated saying yes to the feature, admitting that she hoped the focus of our story would not be her sexuality. The lyricist stopped labeling her identity “a few years ago,” she said, but still gets asked for interviews most frequently when the media wants to talk about homophobia in hip-hop, or during Pride month.
“At first I believed in the whole identity thing,” she said. “I just got to a point where I was like, at the end of the day, nobody can make no rules on what I decide to do. ‘Yo listen, don't call me this. Don't call me that. I do what I want. I love who I love. I want who I want.’ And I'm not the only one. There's a lot of people in this world who just choose not to identify.”
“But then I was like, ‘No. I get it. It's not [about] labels. [It’s] expressing oneself. It's a magazine that shows your expression of who you are and what you represent,’” she added, which pairs well with where she is in her life and career.”
M.A joins Sam Smith, Jeremy O. Harris, Ronan Farrow, Nicolas Ghesquière as Out100 cover stars.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect that Nicki Minaj was also a cover star.