Our condolences to Megan Thee Stallion (Megan Pete) on the passing of her mother Holly on March 22nd. Megan’s mother was an artist herself as well as her daughter’s manager, and in interviews Megan has credited sitting spending time with her mom in the studio instead of at day care as inspiring her to pursue her own rap career. Megan continues her mom’s legacy by being the first female rapper signed to 300 Entertainment, and after the underground success of her “Tina Snow” alter ego she’s about to become major in a major way with her “Fever” LP.
To preface the discussion that follows let’s take note of the fact that intelligent, empowered women have been controlling their narrative in rap dating back to Sha-Rock. Rappers like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah were not just the equals of their male contemporaries but in many cases superior, changing the perception that rap listeners only wanted to hear from men. Rappers like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown took on raunchiness with confidence, reveling in their sex appeal while still keeping a firm hand on the wheel and controlling the ride. Nicki Minaj took female rappers to a whole new level of mainstream success, all while channeling the unapologetic frank attitude of previous crossover women like Trina and Khia. It should go without saying that a female rapper can be anything she wants from classy to nasty to straight up gangster just like the men, but I’ve said it anyway.
Now let’s bring it back to Megan’s mom for a second. Momma was concerned that her teenage daughter’s raps were too ratchet and encouraged her to wait until she was 21 to start her recording career. Well moms and daughters don’t always agree on everything, and Megan’s raps started going viral from the freestyle ciphers she was doing in college. At that point ratchet or not Megan’s success in hip-hop was inevitable along with her nickname of “Thee Stallion” for her imposing 5’10” and thick physique. The cover of “Fever” plays up that sex appeal while also paying tribute to 1970’s icon Pam Grier. There’s no doubt Megan sees herself as a continuation of that legacy, using her femininity to exploit men instead of the other way around. She reclaims “Ratchet” for her own empowerment.
“Big old booty, big old booty, get it clappin
Finesse these niggas out them dollars, that’s a talent
I want some money, want some money, boy, what’s happenin?
Don’t want no nigga who be acting, who be cappin
I’m on some real ratchet s**t, pull up to your crib
Scope out everything, tell my niggas where it is
Put a straw in the fifth, hot girl s**t
If the b***h ain’t ’bout it, then she can’t be in the clique”
The only thing that stands in the way of her “I flaunt it and you pay for it, so who’s the pimp and who’s the hoe?” narrative is the core truth articulated by KRS-One that capitalism is a system of pimps and hoes (I’m sorry but that’s the way it goes). Even if she’s playing the men to get those ends, there’s still someone making two dollars for every dollar she makes when her records spin. Actually that’s probably being too generous based on the kind of Spotify payments artists constantly complain about. There’s always a bigger pimp out there. Even if the owner of the record label is a woman (Sylvia Robinson on line one) that doesn’t mean she isn’t pimping too.
At this point the review could spin wildly out of control into a debate about the economy, politics, and for some conspiracy minded rappers this would be the time to talk about who really really run this. Instead let’s bring it back to Megan Pete owning her narrative. Throughout “Fever” she redefines terms like “Hood Rat” that have been historically used to diss and takes pride in the label. Not only is she a hood rat, she has hood rat friends, and she and her friends are down and ready to f**k you up for the dividends.
“B***h, keep talking that s**t from your Honda
Hoes love to act, but they ain’t with the drama
Want my spot? Gotta fight like Wakanda
B***h, run up and get hit with the one-done
Hood rat s**t, yeah, with my hood rat friends
You ain’t from my hood, what you doin round here?
Asking all them questions – you must be the Feds”
There’s no doubt that she’s having fun on “Fever” for 40 minutes and change. She’s recording songs with DaBaby and Juicy J (“Cash S**t” and “Simon Says” respectively) and speaking of the latter she even gets to rewrite “Weak Azz B***h” with her own “W.A.B” spin on it. Megan Thee Stallion is trying to be Megan Thee Most on this album. The most what? The most everything. The most sexy. The most nasty. The most ratchet. The most hood. The most gangster. With every line of every LilJuMadeDaBeat, Supah Mario or Juicy J produced track, Megan is unapologetically that b***h you’re either going to love or love to hate.
The harshest thing I can say about Megan is that she isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before. She wants to be the baddest chick from the South. Trina came first. She wants to be the sexiest dime in rap. Lil’ Kim came first. She wants to turn mack game around on men. Roxanne Shante did that too. It’s not a knock to say Megan Thee Stallion is empowered to be as nasty (or nice) as she wants to be, but it is fair to say it doesn’t come off as revolutionary at this point unless you’ve been living under a rock. Let’s sum it up like this — at 40 minutes long M.T.S. doesn’t overstay her welcome. She gets up in the spot, she gets her freak on, she does her Rita Farr and takes over the narrative, and then she’s gone. The album is fun for that amount of time but doesn’t chart a new course for women in rap or rappers as a whole. Not every album needs to or should. “Fever” is our Trina for 2019. She won’t change the world but she will get you to talk about sex, baby.