MEGAN THEE STALLION
Her Name and Persona Is an Open Love Letter to Women and Southern Swag Belle
By Tamara D. Hill, PhD
"There are different expectations for women in anything. Women have to be the best and then some. A man can get on a track and literally make two noises and be the GOAT. When you listen to a girl rap, she gotta have all the bars, all the flows, be melodic, she gotta look good."- Megan
Whether it is acknowledged it or not, reinterpreting the Hip Hop genre and what it means to the culture and the female rappers who are empowering others by being "female bosses" in the industry without changing their identities, continues to be the reason behind the metamorphosis of their individual styles, personas and most importantly, their unabashed, unapologetic and at times sexually charged lyrics. Hip Hop's early conception began in the 1970's and it continues to be a steadfast cultural phenomenon that is not going anywhere, unlike the predictions from its onset when critics strongly believed that it would not last and it was just a "fad." From this juncture of the early 1970's and over time, we have seen talented female rappers hailing from every part of the country including but not limited to the "Dirty South." Each Southern female rapper bought a distinctive lyrical flow that either became a major club banger or cult classic and every time that you stream it now or hear it on the radio, it will take you back to when you enjoyed the "Southern swag" from a female perspective.
As a Southern girl or "belle," myself from Arkansas, Hip-Hop became my primary choice of music because my father, a Black Nationalist and profound artist whose medium was sculpture and educator purchased the Fat Boys album from the Sutra label in 1984 for myself and my brother. Thinking back to when the Fat Boys emerged on the scene, there were barely any women present in the Hip Hop industry, no matter where they were geographically located in this country.
However, I played their record constantly on our white record player every day, all day. I learned all the verses backwards and forward from "Prince Markie Dee" Morales, Damon "Kool Rock-Ski" Wimbley, and Darren "Buff Love" Robinson until I could "rap" along with them. I knew the melodic beats of the rap songs that began their trajectory on the radio and somehow I knew that this "fad" was here to stay. Here I was a girl from Arkansas listening and rapping along with people who looked and sounded like me and their album was just the beginning. I know that it is impossible to believe for Gen Z that record players actually existed and we played albums on them but they did and it is all true. No lies told here!!!! In fact, if you fell in love with Hip Hop like I did at any time your life, you must be a historian and be able to "spit" where and how this "narrative street poetry laced with melodies" started. What's more, a true "Hip Hop" head will recognize the creator which is DJ Kool Herc and his vision to infiltrate the traditional genres of music with "fresh beats" and a diverse innovation that was impossible to duplicate. A direct quote from the Kennedy Center organization webpage historically confirms:DJ Kool Herc is credited with throwing the switch at an August 1973 dance bash. The elements of Hip Hop came together in the Bronx borough of New York City. It was the early 1970s and times were tougher than usual for the poorer parts of urban America. From a whole lot of nothing--and a whole lot of imagination--Hip Hop took form.This cultural phenomenon of Hip Hop spread all over the country and through the urban centers where millions of minorities and others alike related to music that spoke truth their experiences and initiated a genre that had never existed before.
While I can pinpoint when my respect and love for Hip Hop started, I do not know when and how the "savage" statuesque Megan Thee Stallion began her love affair with it, but it is obvious that she comprehends its influence, and how she should maneuver and negotiate her manifestation as a Grammy award winner with her sexually explicit lyrics in this industry which is her own version of a "open love letter" to women and "Southern Swag Belles" everywhere. I say "love letter" because not only is she representing the South and her heritage but displaying the contemporary version of the Southern Swag Belle whose lyrics, whose desires, whose hungers were to be sexually pleased on her own terms with exquisite details. In contrast, Megan definitely does not depict the traditional stereotype in her music or persona when women were supposed to wait for a man to make their sexual advances known and then they would play coy and untouchable.
Coming from "hot" Houston, Texas, she has made her mark in the industry by being unmistakably black, and knows her truth and defines the idea in Hip Hop of having an unaudited voice. Now, I want to be fair because it is not say that the collective of female rappers from the South, like Trina-The "Baddest Bitch aka Queen of the South," City Girls, Rapsody, Latto, Saweetie, Gangsta Boo & La Chat, Mia X, Missy Elliot, Diamond & Princess, and Khia have not "done the damn thing" at all, because they have. Accordingly, DaBrat and Shawnna come from the "Chi" or the "Windy City" known as Chicago which is the American Midwest while Jared Boyd explains their connection to the South by sustaining:However, they are most commonly associated with their contributions to the Atlanta rap scene. Da Brat, a standout on Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label, was signed to the label after winning a mall contest sponsored by Yo! MTV Raps. The prize was a chance to meet teen rap group, Kriss Kross, who in turn introduced Brat to the boss man behind their label. If you're still not convinced she's an adopted child of the South, she's currently a member of the Atlanta-based Rickey Smiley Morning Show team and a recurring star on various Atlanta-based reality shows.From what I see, whether it is Atlanta, Georgia, New Orleans, LA, South Carolina, Miami or Houston, Texas, Southern female rappers bring a sense of renewed Southern charisma, blunt in-your-face lyrics and voracious sexuality to the Hip Hop genre. When asked about her southern roots and its influence on her music, Megan's uncompromising response was, as she told Rolling Stone in 2019, "I feel like I have to put on for my city, because we have so many legends and so many greats." However, she added, "But I don't feel like we ever really had a female rapper come from Houston or Texas and shut s**t down."
Shawnna, the daughter of Blues legend Buddy Guy, entered the rap game as a member of Ludacris' Disturbing the Peace camp. Featuring alongside Ludacris on his Def Jam debut single "What's Your Fantasy," Shawnna blended right into the new age of Atlanta Rap in late 1998, rolling into 1999. She released two albums on the label in 2004 and 2006, before parting ways with Luda and the company. In the hearts of many fans, though, she made an impact on the Atlanta sound.
The "Dirty South" or the "South" in general has its own dual personality because it has been falsely depicted in the media, books and history as having a "slower" way of living and or existing, but that is not the case, and here is why. Historically, one of the greatest movements in African American history is the Great Migration. When War World I happened, Europeans were no longer allowed to enter this country which in turn, encouraged Northern White business and factory owners to head South to find new employees or laborers quickly and more specifically, Negroes. These factory and business owners offered substantial wages for the time period which is nowhere close to what people make now but it was new beginning for Negroes from the terrors of lynching and the debt riddled cycles of sharecropping.
They in turn became the prime candidates to replace the missing employable Europeans in their businesses. African Americans were sick of the lynching, sharecropping and outright abuse from law enforcement and the intimidation from the KKK that they were enduring in the Deep South, and wanted to change their trajectory in life.
Negroes knew that the landscape of the South would not change and if it meant they walked to Memphis to catch the nearest train or bus or catching a boxcar illegally, they were determined to leave the South behind them. Ergo, the land of "milk and honey" in the Midwest or Northeast sounded promising to them in regard to educational and economic opportunities, better wages and employment prospects. Negroes migrated to various areas of the country because they wanted better for themselves, their individual families and the future generations to come. This movement of almost 6 million African Americans to the various areas of the country such as the Midwest, Northeast and West happened between 1910 and 1970.
In contrast, the shift for African Americans to move back down South took place during the 1970's and there are a multitude of reasons for why that happened and William H. Frey, from the Brookings Institute denotes this in his writings by emphasizing:The reversal of the Great Migration began as a trickle in the 1970s, increased in the 1990s, and turned into a virtual evacuation from many northern areas in subsequent decades. The movement is largely driven by younger, college-educated Black Americans, from both northern and western places of origin. They have contributed to the growth the of the "New South," especially in Texas, Georgia and North Carolina as well as metropolitan regions such as Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston. And although these areas are simultaneously in the midst of new immigrant growth and white in-migration, the continuing "New Great Migration" has served to give Black Americans a large-and in many cases, dominant-presences in most parts of America's South.Which proves that African Americans sought out and found that the South offered land ownership, generational wealth, a reduced cost of living and other opportunities as the paradigm shifted and it became more appealing to return to the place where many of their ancestors began their family and sojourn journeys to a new life.
Consequently, the South, or the Dirty South, not only has a "dominant footprint" with a long history of African Americans enduring all the economic, segregation and educational "bullshit" from the past and present, but also eventually produced Megan Thee Stallion, a female Southern rap artist who with her resilient presence, recondite moniker, sexually rapacious lyrics and a personal commitment to the issues that continue to plague the Black community in the South or otherwise and who has made it an objective as she has vehemently declared in "Body" (2020): "I'm present when I'm absent, speakin' when I'm not there, All them bitches scary cats, I call 'em Carole Baskins, ah." By choosing the term "stallion" as her a part of her moniker, it shows that Megan Thee Stallion aka "Megan Jovon Ruth Pete" is not only giving a nod to a magnificent and exquisite horse, but she is also acknowledging the astonishing talent, the remarkable grace and potency of Black women everywhere and especially those in the South that have influenced her as an African American woman. Not to mention that Megan is 5'10" with a "thick" and voluptuous body frame that is reminiscent of a "stallion," a nickname she picked up in high school because that is what the teenage boys called her.
After she was born in San Antonio, Texas on February 15, 1995, Megan Thee Stallion's mother, Holly Thomas, made the decision to move to Houston, Texas. Oddly enough, her mother was also a female rapper that used the moniker of "Holly-Wood." And like most mothers, Holly having Megan in the studios with her as she recorded her sessions was far cheaper than placing her in daycare and paying outlandish rates for her every week. As a child, Megan Thee Stallion was an observant student in those studio sessions and wrote down her own lyrics in her little folder because she admired her mom's persona and individual rap style. As she became older, Megan moved from the South Park neighborhood in Houston when she was 14 and then eventually to Pearland with her mother. According to Biography.com and in Megan Thee Stallion's own words:Megan grew up in Houston's South Park neighborhood with her mother, Holly Thomas, grandmother and great-grandmother. Her father, Joseph Pete Jr., resided in prison for the first eight years of her life. They grew close following his release, until his death when Megan was 15. Family members bolstered young Megan's confidence. "I had really good examples of women in my life and they always put it in like, 'Megan, you're amazing... You're doing so good,'" she told NME. "That came from my father too. I didn't know anything else from birth."Consequently, it is believed that it was at the age of 14 that she began "writing her raps" but her true skills did not become evident until she was 18.
Megan thoroughly enjoyed school and actively participated in extracurricular activities such as cheerleading, the drill team and dance teams. She had put rap to the side at that time but that "fire" to spit was only delayed for a time but not denied. Upon finishing Pearland High School in 2013, she decided she was ready for a rap career but her mother wholeheartedly disagreed with her sentiment. Their agreement was that she would attend college and then she could purse her rap career at the ripe age of 21. Her college career initially began at Prairie View A&M University an HBCU, where she began posting her freestyles on Instagram and gaining a large social media presence and following by her fan base that eventually became known as the "hotties." In college, Megan participated in "rap battles" against male opponents and it was those cyphers went viral and started to fuel her desire that she become a rap artist.
During this time, Holly, both her mother and mentor, was utterly shocked by Megan's sexually explicit lyrics and wanted her to tone them down but she refused. Her lyrics were her own "voice" and they needed to land somewhere in the music world, uncensored. Eventually, she transferred and resumed her studies at Texas Southern University, another HBCU that is one of the "most comprehensive Historically Black College or Universities in the country with almost 10,000 students." Taken from the TSU Mission and Vision page:T - TEAMWORK is our strength. We, at TSU, believe that working together, we achieve more.Local rap battle sessions and shows around Houston, Texas were a mainstay for Megan in 2016 where she could perform in person and be successful and "unprecedented" in her delivery. Between those local shows and a large following on social media by the "hotties," her presence began to increase and so did the attention to this local Houston native. Her mother took the role of her manager and Megan trusted her like no other.
S - STUDENT SUCCESS. FIRST in everything we undertake; if students see it, they can do it.
U - UNPRECEDENTED in our resolve to succeed and be ACCOUNTABLE for what we do.
2016, also became the year when Megan finally released her music. Anthony Rian in his article titled, "Megan Thee Stallion - "Tina Snow" (Album)," by sharing his insight," The Texas native first began to gain notoriety after meeting super producer TA and releasing her first single "Like a Stallion" in April 2016. After dropping a number of hot verses on a few Texas Cyphers, her verse on 'The Houston Cypher' over Drake's "4PM in Calabasas" caught on like wildfire, and placed her as a top trending topic in Houston on Twitter." Her first mixtape was called Rich Ratchet was released in 2016 and by September 2017, it was her Make It Hot EP which was not only her initial commercial work but it also marked her professional solo debut as an artist. Ultimately in 2018, Megan was signed with 1501 Certified Entertainment that was operated by T. Farris and but owned Carl Crawford, a former professional baseball player. It was noted by Farris and Crawford that she was the first female rapper that ever signed to the label and began to work on new music. Later that year in June, she released 10 EP called Tina Snow, aptly named after her alter ego. The explanation of her alter ego was reported by Capital Xtra:The alter ego of Tina Snow was inspired by Pimp C's alter ego, 'Tony Snow.' Megan often cites fellow Texas rapper Pimp C, a founding member of the rap group Underground Kingz, as one of her biggest influences. Megan has described 'Tina Snow" as a more raw version of herself. "Tina is the more pimp-ish side of me, she explained in 2018." Tina is the raw version of Megan, she just don't give a damn.As a result, the Tina Snow EP was received favorably by critics and those sexually stimulating and empowering lyrics that she explicated with an expeditious-paced rhythm that she once wrote in high school and college were now paying off on "Big Ole Freak," released on December 21, 2018. But when that single hit the radio airwaves in January of 2019 with a video to match, her Southern sexual swag and "I don't give damn" attitude made not only men take notice of her but women as well.
"Big Ole Freak" (2018) was Megan's initial breakout song and uses samples from both Immature and the well-known producer and crooner from the 80s, Al. B. Sure, otherwise known as Albert Brown. What you hear in the backdrop of this lascivious club banger is Al B. Sure's illustrious "Nite and Day" that was released on August 26, 1988 from Warner Record and "Is It Love This Time?" from Immature's album On Our Worst Behavior (Virgin Records, 1992). I knew the first time that I heard Megan's anthem which was only the beginning, those first four keys from Al. B Sure's "Nite and Day" in C# minor mixed which made it the perfect complement to her lyrics that she spits:Ay, big ole freakWhile some critics may characterize Megan as being a "freak" for spitting her truth in a captivating, fierce manner, that is simply not true. She is only doing what men in Hip Hop have done for decades and like her contemporary counterparts Nicki Minaj, City Girls and Cardi B. She is in control of her sexually aggressive desires, unafraid of how she deals with men and makes no apologies for saying it in a perfectly executed manner with side of "inflamed raunchiness." She is treating men like they have done for years by fulfilling her sexual desires and then dismissing them when she is done. For example, when she says, "Big booty, big ole treat I'ma make him wait for the pussy, Hit it 'til he big ole skeet," she is making her man wait to have sex with her and when he finally does, he orgasms so hard that it is explosive and that physically he cannot control how his body reacts to penetrating her. She does not just drop her panties for him when he hits the door at will but instead she makes him wait until she wants him.
Big booty, big ole treat
I'ma make him wait for the pussy
Hit it 'til he big ole skeet
Ay, feet on the bed
I'll fuck him up in the head
Suck it then look in his eyes
Then the next day I might leave 'em on read
Pop it, pop it
Daydreaming 'bout how I rock it
He hit my phone with a horse
So I know that mean come over and ride it
Shit, I'm on the way
Ride on that dick I'm like, "Yay", hey
Usually I like to fuck
But tonight we gon' make love 'cause you bae
Nobody know, I fuck with him on the low
We never show up together but I text him when I'm ready to go
It is also obvious that when she calls him, she only wants sex or essentially what we know as a "booty call from the 1990s." A "booty call" can be defined "as a sexual invitation or sexual rendezvous" which is just a formal definition from the Oxford Languages Dictionary, but we all know it as someone is getting sexed or "hooking up" afterhours or extremely late at night, no matter what the gender may be. Megan also makes the distinction that the first time they are sexing. It just that and nothing more but when he returns the next night, "they make love" because that is how she will treat him in the bedroom. For her, he is her personal conquest and fun, who literally "comes" at her beck and call who never appears with him in public, but when she sexually desires him he is "good to go."
Megan at SXSW 2019, Photos: © Jason Gross
See Part II of our Megan Thee Stallion article
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