‘It’s the way she owns her body’: how Megan Thee Stallion rode to Grammys glory | Megan Thee Stallion

0
10

In 2014, a then-unknown Megan Thee Stallion tweeted: “I would like a group [because] I promise this rap shit gone take off for me.”

That promise has been fulfilled in fairly spectacular trend. The 26-year-old, born Megan Jovon Ruth Pete, is now one in every of the world’s most well-known and revered rap stars, with her three Grammy awards ultimately weekend’s ceremony marking the peak of her profession to this point.

In addition to successful one in every of the night time’s “massive 4” awards – changing into the first feminine rapper this century to win greatest new artist – she is the first lady to win the greatest rap tune class as lead artist. She shared her award with Beyoncé, who had joined Megan on the remix to Savage, a matter-of-fact assertion of multifaceted womanhood. Billie Eilish in the meantime spent a lot of her winner’s speech attempting to give her file of the 12 months award away to Megan, repeatedly telling her: “You deserve this.”

Megan Thee Stallion perform at the American Music Awards in November 2020.
Megan Thee Stallion carry out at the American Music Awards in November 2020. {Photograph}: American Broadcasting Corporations,/AFP/Getty Photos

That sentiment is shared by a era of younger girls who regard Megan as an all-powerful determine. She has earned admiration for her rap circulate, weighted with teeth-kissing technical mastery on high of the beat and rooted in the energetic membership kinds of the American south. Her punchline-rich lyrics are wittily self-confident, humiliating males for his or her sexual failings and dismissing feminine rivals as “bitches thinkin’ they the shit after they actually bathroom water.”

“Her cadence on information is phenomenal,” says Tiffany Calver, presenter of BBC 1Xtra’s Rap Present. “The lyricism and wordplay is superb, however there’s simply one thing so current about the way she is on a file, which hasn’t actually been heard from anybody else, that constantly, in a very very long time. She will be able to take additionally information which have substance, however make them enjoyable, to allow them to resonate with a bigger viewers. It’s not one thing that’s simply pop and candyfloss.”

Nevertheless it’s Megan’s self-styled “scorching woman” picture as a strutting monarch decreeing that each girls is innately glamorous and sexually engaging – together with these ignored by a narrow-minded and sometimes racist mainstream – that has synthesised that admiration into adulation.

“You’ll be able to simply inform she’s assured in herself bodily, and she’s sexually liberated,” says the British rapper Ms Banks, who has hung out with Megan in the UK. “That’s very relatable – you are feeling like she’s one in every of your homegirls. When girls are seen to be sexually free [in music], it’s typically for a person – in a man’s video, with a pleasant automotive, and a woman subsequent to him shaking her arse. However Megan is doing it for herself, in her personal video.”

Megan started her rap profession whereas finding out at college in her native Texas, seeing off a crop of male rappers with a freestyle filmed on a Houston rooftop in 2013. She picked a statuesque artist identify to match her 5ft 10in body. “I’m tall as properly,” says Ms Banks, “and seeing somebody like her personal her physique the way she does, I by no means had that rising up. It’s epic.”

Breakthrough tracks like Massive Ole Freak and Cocky AF located her in the sexy and uncompromising lineage of Lil Kim and Cunning Brown – as properly, after all, as her assured male friends. “You’ll be able to solely rap about peace and Kumbaya and also you’re supposed to be such a girl,” Megan complained in a 2018 interview. “I’m not scared to say what I need to do. If the boys can do it, we will do it too.” Calver compares her early years to a boxer in the ring, “simply consistently jabbing. Each single time her lyricism was above the bar”.

The “scorching woman” line turned a meme that underpinned her first US High 20 hit in 2019, Scorching Woman Summer time, its credo fleshed out in a tweet by Megan: “Being a Scorching Woman is about being unapologetically YOU, having enjoyable, being assured, residing YOUR fact, being the lifetime of the get together and so forth,” she defined.

The mantra was additional outlined in Savage, through which Megan described herself as “elegant, bougie, ratchet”: a refrain that introduced she, and thus all girls, may very well be refined and trashy at the similar time. It chipped away at the sexist binary of decorum and debauchery that ladies are sometimes sorted into. Ms Banks agrees: “She shines a lightweight on the undeniable fact that we may be all this stuff in a single.”

It was solely a matter of time earlier than she labored with Cardi B, the chart-topping New York rapper whose expertise, frankness and sexual urge for food match hers. Their observe WAP, an ode to vaginal fluid whose male characters are in fixed hazard of both asphyxiation or drowning, went to No 1 in each the US and UK final August. It brought about a stage of face-fanning ethical panic that recalled Mary Whitehouse, with conservative pundits queueing up to decry this story of feminine sexual pleasure.

The outrage continued this week after their efficiency of the tune at the Grammys, with Candace Owens saying the efficiency heralded “a weakening of American society … the finish of an empire”, and Tucker Carlson accusing the pair of “deliberately attempting to degrade our tradition and harm our kids”.

Ms Banks believes there are double requirements at mess around this tall, curvaceous Black lady: “You don’t thoughts a lady sporting a leotard with her arse out if she’s slim, but when she’s bought a little bit of a bum, now it’s extra specific. Why? And I do really feel like there’s a racist undertone.” She says that whereas sexuality is a significant a part of Megan’s model, her dance strikes are misinterpreted by white critics. “Again residence, throughout Africa and the Caribbean, there’s aunties of all ages that wind up their hips and transfer their waists, and it has nothing to do with intercourse – it’s part of the tradition. However on a much bigger stage, some individuals are offended by it.”

Megan’s championing of self-confidence, not to point out her philanthropy and advocacy for greater schooling, is way extra worthwhile than talkshow chatter. She was ready to climate a way more critical assault in July 2020 when she was injured by bullet shrapnel in her foot, later accusing Tory Lanez – a rapper with 5 US High 5 albums – of being the shooter. He was charged with assault and pleaded not responsible, with the case nonetheless ongoing.

On Instagram she defined that her concern of police brutality made her reticent to come ahead, after which wrote a widely admired piece in the New York Times that mentioned how misogyny entwines with racism and is introduced to bear on Black girls. She has since rapped about the trauma: “At conflict with myself / in my head, bitch, it’s Baghdad,” runs one lyric from her debut album Good Information.

In refusing to be cowed by that incident, Megan confirmed that her message of strong self-belief wasn’t nearly feeling assured in the bed room or nightclub – it was one thing to underpin a lady’s life. “It’s the way she owns her physique,” Ms Banks reiterates, summing up her enchantment. “She’s the captain of her ship.”