But Young is poised to be more than a West-endorsed one-hit wonder. Her music is a throwback to mid-Nineties female rap—think Salt-n-Pepa. But it’s upbeat, happy and almost wholesome when compared to the explicit material put forth by her predecessors and peers. Or, as Young describes it: “Fun, fun, F to the U to the N and more fun! It’s really carefree, fun dance stuff. I think a lot of music that’s done by someone that people would describe as a hipster or, you know, a scenester, that music often comes with a warning label of pretension, of exclusivity, and I’m just, like, you know what, why do we have to be snobs?”
Young’s look is as fresh as her sound, and she’s not afraid to experiment. A few months ago she was working a retro glamour-girl angle with a blond, Twenties-style marcelled bob. Today she’s a mix of kitschy street—oversize T-shirt emblazoned with a cat, printed leggings, sequined sneaks—and slick, flawless beauty, epitomized by her striking long black hair, which, right now, is a virtually undetectable wig. “When I went platinum, I pretty much chemically cut my hair,” she explains with a laugh. “It evaporated, disintegrated.” And despite the less-than-chic connotations that two handfuls of acrylic-tipped nails conjure, Young is no stereotype. “There are definitely girl rappers out there, girl artists, girl anything, who will straight-up wear underwear, or a bikini,” she says, recalling the raunchfest that is MTV Spring Break. “I’m like, ‘Okay, girls, modesty! We’re all classy girls here.’ I felt like I had to be the modesty police.... I’m a big proponent of, Let’s keep it on, let’s keep it dry, keep it clean.” That means a high-low mix of colorful, often casual and relatively covered-up ensembles punctuated by loads of chunky accessories that play to a ghetto-fab vibe. “I don’t like to look trashy,” says the singer, who spent part of her album advance on shoes (Chloé and Manolo Blahnik), a bag (Miu Miu) and a car (a 1990 Mercedes 420 SEL), yet still shops at Target. “But I like to make a statement, and if the statement is a little trashy, then that’s okay to me,” she concedes.
Though Young claims to be a fashion neophyte, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. She made her TRL debut in a purple Hussein Chalayan dress and Valentino slingbacks, and her requests for this photo shoot read like a veteran fashionista’s wish list, straight from the spring runways: “Clothing: Dior, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander Wang, Topshop stuff (not Kate Moss’s line), Etro, Chloé (footwear and clothing), Balenciaga (knee-high gladiator sandals in black and white), Gracie by Alice McCall (Australian designer), Miu Miu.... Shoes: Christian Louboutin, Chloé, Pierre Hardy, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent star heels.”