Cheeky Ma is a self-proclaimed "multi-talented freak," and there simply aren't words to say it better. She's a creative hurricane and style hero bred in and dominating the NYC queer club and fashion scenes.
The native New York artist models, most recently for Next Century 21, MAC, KAIMIN, LEUNI, Nicopanda, Gypsy Sport and more. She styles,cuts and designs hair, as apprentice of Prema Hair. Plus, she's a fashion designer, visual artist, painter, sculptor, and taste-making patron of NYC nightlife — who documents her colorful creations and avant-garde lewks on her prolific Instagram account.
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Cheeky's alien-disco-goth-cyborg stylistic presence is the kind that would make a Humans of New York photographer walk into a parking sign, and has been known to inspire children to ask their parents in wonder, Who is she?
Which is exactly what people are begging to know in the comment section of Fenty Beauty's latest ad campaign for their newly launched charcoal black Uninvited Stunna Lip Paint, which debuted the results of Cheeky's latest hyphen: rapper.
Cheeky's new single "Saucy" backs the Fenty Beauty visual which shows diverse women including Rihanna flipping their hair around and serving face in Uninvited to the pulsing beat. Produced by her long-time partner and collaborator, NYC producer NAR — who created the instrumental music that backed Rihanna's Moroccan Spice campaign and her Flyliners collection — "Saucy" is a bruising, flow-forward empowerment banger which is surely the future backdrop to legions of kids getting ready for a night out: "Don't needs a man, Just my stans/ If you roll with me, I gots a plan/ Yeahhh, I'm bossy/ And yeahhh, I'm saucy." The bold, tight rap is backed by adrenaline-pumping sirens and a brassy punching beat that reflect NAR's typical production chops.
"With saucy I wanted to create a powerful femme anthem that was minimal but cute and catchy," NAR told PAPER. "A bop that everyone can sing and dance to, while simultaneously feeling like a boss."
PAPER caught up with Cheeky Ma to talk Fenty Beauty, her creative partnership with NAR, and the view from the launch of her music career.
How did you get connected with Rihanna and Fenty Beauty?
My boo NAR has produced the music for the recent Fenty Beauty Moroccan Spice and Flyliner ad campaigns. For this campaign they wanted bossy, shameless, femme empowering tracks, so NAR asked if I could deliver and here we are.
I feel like "Saucy" perfectly encapsulates the Fenty Beauty ethos: carefree, no-fucks, for everyone. Why do you think it's a fit for the campaign?
Fenty Beauty's message is powerful and we wanted to embody that energy in the music.
Just about every brand, campaign, corporation and celebrity is "into" diversity and social justice right now. Fenty Beauty feels like it's among few paying more than lip service to inclusivity. Were Fenty Beauty's politics within the wider landscape of diversity/social-justice oriented brands something you considered as you decided to collaborate with the campaign?
I believe Fenty Beauty has been paving the way for brands and corporations to be more inclusive. Although, my partner NAR is trans-masc and making the music behind-the-scenes, I believe it's time to put trans/gender non-conforming models as the face of these brands.
The charcoal Uninvited stunna lip shade that "Saucy" was used in the campaign feels like it fits right into your self-proclaimed freak looks. Do you wear Fenty in your day to day life?
The Uninvited stunna lip shade is the perfect product for my personal brand — spooky but cute. I do use Fenty Beauty, they make great products and make me feel confident and beautiful.
How does it feel to have everyone saying "this is my new jam!" and "who is this rapper!" in the comments?
It's so unreal and I'm so grateful. This is the first track i've ever recorded and it's very inspiring that people are receiving it so well.
You're a model, stylist, visual artist, and designer. What's drawing you to music right now as a form of expression?
I've always wanted to make music, but I didn't think I would be any good. That's why I'm so lucky to have NAR, who is so talented and continues to push me to try new things and express myself through different mediums.
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What rappers/producers/musicians are inspiring you right now?
What was it like to collaborate with NAR on "Saucy," and what is your creative relationship like?
We have an amazing flow, it was a true collaboration that came so naturally. I don't know why we haven't been making music since we started dating 3 years ago but we already have new tracks coming out soon.
Stream Cheeky Ma's NAR-produced debut, "Saucy," below.
Photo via Instagram