‘Megan Thee Stallion’ is a name often seen plastered on billboards, atop nominee lists and charts. In the rap world, still dominated primarily by men, Megan has followed a path paved by her contemporaries: Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliott and so many more. And yet, the young rapper has also built her very own bridge right to the sizzling core of the hip hop scene. One that she’s crossed with finesse, confidence and passion.
The Rise of A Houston Rapper
Megan assembled the building blocks for this bridge at a very young age. The Houston-bred star often followed her mother to recording sessions, where she rapped under the name “Holly-Wood”. And perhaps that’s when Megan found her calling. Soon enough, the young star began penning down her own raps and like the new generation of musicians, the internet held the door open for her. In 2013, Megan’s participation in a cypher during her time at the Prairie View A&M University, went viral, invariably boosting her social media presence.
Cut to 2017, after a slew of demo mixtapes released to her SoundCloud account, Megan finally landed with the commercial mixtape “Make It Hot”. Nursing a good seven tracks, it was the EP’s 2017 single, ‘Last Week in HTx’ that truly put Megan on the map. Featuring sleek rap verses over a tide of synth-pop beats, the track now stands at a whopping 8.9 million views.
Megan Spreads Her Roots
While Megan continued to further develop her style and technique, the year 2019 brought home a number of victories for the young star. For starters, Megan earned her first chart entry with the track, ‘Big Ole Freak’ from her EP, “Tina Snow”. Not long after, May witnessed the release of her second EP, “Fever”. Keeping warm a good fourteen tracks, “Fever” made many heads turn, including those of some of the biggest critics.
In an interview with Elle, Megan discussed the pressures that come with the title of a “Houston Rapper”. “Houston is just where the whole swag comes from, the culture. We have some of the most legendary groups and people coming out the city. I know I have big shoes to fill because these people are legends. I knew I didn’t want to sound exactly like the typical Houston rapper, you know what I’m saying?”
But Megan has filled these very shoes with an enviable ease. With a snappy, unapologetic flow under her belt, and the ability to whip up some blazing verses, her talent has not gone unnoticed. In fact, Pitchfork’s Taylor Crumpton hit home when he pointed out what “Fever” does different, “For decades, black women in rap have been reduced to one-dimensional characters that lacked complexity, but Megan asserts herself as “Thee Stallion” and undoes the historically male-centered framework in favor of black women’s sexual narratives.”
The Seismic Waves Following ‘Savage’
A full year later, Megan pulled out the big guns with her EP, “Suga”. The project heralded the star’s domination of the hip hop scene with her track, ‘Savage’. With lyrics like, “I’m a savage (yeah)/ Classy, bougie, ratchet (yeah)/ Sassy, moody, nasty (hey, hey, yeah)/ Acting stupid, what’s happening?” it wasn’t long before the track began doing the rounds on Tik Tok.
A month later, ‘Savage’ was thrust under the shower of a new remix, adding one special ingredient that would catapult the song to the top of charts world over. And that little ingredient goes by the name Beyonce. As if scoring a collaboration with Beyonce wasn’t a jaw-dropping feat in itself, ‘Savage’ also brought home some sparkling results.
The remixed version of the track earned Megan her first No. 1 claim on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. For Megan of course, it was a dream come true. In fact, during an interview with Apple Music, Megan gushed about her experience working alongside Beyonce. “I talked to her after the song came out. She was just super supportive. Every time I see her she’s always telling me, ‘Keep going, keep going hard, you really got it. Do you,” the rapper shared, “She’s somebody that really inspired me too, so just to know that Beyonce even has heard any of my music, or has watched me as an artist come up, doing what I’m doing, and that she’s rocking with me enough to even do a song with me, that’s really something that touched my heart. I’ve looked up to Beyonce since I was young.”
But little did Megan know that just a few months later, she would be making history in ties with another one of her biggest role models.
Carving ‘WAP’ Into A Rap Anthem
With August came a change in weather and the explosive landing of one of the biggest collaborations to rock the music landscape: Cardi B’s ‘WAP’ featuring Megan Thee Stallion. Driven by a pumping bass, two starkly different rap styles and the theme of sexual liberation, ‘WAP’ stepped forward as the bold newcomer on the rap scene.
Now, ‘WAP’ not only earned Megan her second No. 1 victory on the Hot 100 charts, but it also broke the record for the largest opening streaming week for a song in US history. Further, the song also earned both acts multiple nominations across some of the biggest award ceremonies.
‘WAP’ went on to be lauded for its sex-positive message, as The Guardian articulated, “The pair’s refusal to be shamed for liking and craving sex is, as Cardi puts it, “iconic”. Their refusal to discuss engaging in sexual intercourse with the sole intent to please men unseats the dehumanizing narrative which robs women of sexual agency.”
So, what is it about Megan’s rap pieces that sets her apart? Perhaps the most defining factor would be her ability to take charge of the female narrative. There’s a lot more to the explicit nature of her songwriting, it doesn’t stop with a few steamy innuendos. There’s a glaring confidence, an embracing of one’s sexuality and the drive to bring something new to a traditionally male-dominated ecosystem. At the end of the day, Megan just wants to start a conversation, about the female body and the female perspective. And perhaps that’s what makes her journey down the bridge such a spectacle to witness.
By: Nina Karun