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In 2016, Megan Thee Stallion touched down on the Twitter timelines of millions, dominating the Houston Cypher over Drake’s “4 pm in Calabasas” and being the only woman to participate. The Houston rapper quickly amassed a following on social media by continuously dropping freestyles on her Instagram including the “Stalli Freestyle,” another viral moment that showcased her lyrical ability.
Although she previously released mixtapes and extended plays, it was her second EP, Tina Snow, that solidified her stardom. Tina Snow, one of her many alter egos and inspired by that of the late Pimp C, garnered the attention of her growing fanbase that she ultimately dubbed the “hotties.” The accession of the Hot Girl continued as she dominated with a worldwide campaign, “Hot Girl Summer,” encouraging women to be unapologetically themselves and to live their best lives. Megan capitalized on the phenomenon with an eponym track featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign, and a video featuring famed hotties like LaLa Anthony, Ari Lennox, and Summer Walker. The impact was evident, and everyone wanted parts of the movement from men to brands like Maybelline and Forever 21, who attempted to co-opt the phrase for financial gain.
While the steam generated by the stallionesque rapper superseded her private life on most fronts, unfortunately, her rise was not absent from personal turmoil. Sadly, in March 2019, her mother and manager, Holly “Holly-wood” Thomas, passed away, leaving Megan to grieve and try to navigate amid her new and heightened fame. Following the emotional storm of losing a parent, onlookers began to heavily discuss her personal life, alluding to alcoholism and promiscuous activity due to public outings. Despite the headlines and social media commentary, the star remained focused on her career alignments.
For Megan, 2020 appeared to be a year filled with many moving pieces and simultaneous happenings. At the top of the year, the rapper’s name trended as a legal battle with her label 1500 Entertainment ensued when the label’s CEO Carl Crawford attempting to halt her music release. After being granted a restraining order where she cited intimidation tactics from him and his allies, the rapper released her EP Suga. The project in totality seemed to have come and gone, not gaining the traction that her previous releases had achieved, but Megan’s singles “Savage” and “Captain Hook” took the dance crazed platform TikTok by storm and jumpstarted viral dance challenges. In April, the H-town Hottie maximized Savage’s virality by joining forces with fellow Houstonian Beyonce for the “Savage (Remix).” On the track, the two exchanged bars about their bodies, money, impact, and being downright savages in many ways. The song shot to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, solidifying Megan’s first number one song and simultaneously raising money for the pair’s hometown. These moments set the tone for how she would navigate the rest of the year and showed everyone that she wasn’t going to let anything or anyone keep her from her fortune.
In June, Thee Stallion snagged the Viewer’s Choice Award and Best Female Hip Hop Artist at the BET Awards paired with a Mad Max-inspired performance featuring a host of leather, feathers, ATVs and dancers atop a towering scaffold. During the dusty desert scene, she performed her newly released single “Girls in the Hood” and “Savage (Remix).” As the hottie was on track to have another hot girl summer and successful year, tragedy struck again in the form of physical harm.
On July 13, a video made its rounds of Megan, Tory Lanez, a friend, and a driver being instructed by police to exit a vehicle and lay on the ground. At the time of the reported incident, it was noted she suffered injuries from glass, but two days later, she cleared the air. In an Instagram post, the raptress announced that someone shot her in both of her feet in a purposeful attempt to harm her. At the time, she didn’t name the assailant but would later reveal that Lanez, arrested on the night in question, allegedly did it.
Assumptions about what took place between the fellow artists poured in from every angle, forcing Megan to show her injuries and assure people she didn’t warrant the harm inflicted on her. The situation was a fast track to overshadowing all that Megan had accomplished, but she pivoted from under the thumb of instigators who challenged her statements. Again, Megan realigned.
Stacked news, whether good or bad, became consistent for the star, with Revlon announcing her as their new Global Brand Ambassador. Megan unveiled her new role in true hottie fashion by wearing a leather choker and harness, turquoise streaked buns, and the Hot Girl herself did a full beat. Just a day later, Cardi B featured her on her single “WAP,” a sex-positive song that again caused controversy for Megan. Accompanying the music was a visual featuring cameos from their fellow women artists Mulatto, Normani, Sukiahana, Rubi Rose, and Rosalia. Commentary about the song arose from men and women under the thumb of misogyny and conservative politicians who wouldn’t dare focus on the pandemic instead. Despite the outrage, the collaboration debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Megan’s second career No. 1. But, the hottie train didn’t stop there as she graced the cover of prominent publications like Variety and W Magazine.
During the stay-at-home orders, many artists made a digital shift by performing on Instagram and livestream fests, and Megan made sure she adjusted. On Aug. 29, she set the stage ablaze literally and figuratively during a live stream TIDAL performance. During the performance, Megan addressed the protection of Black people and the countless lives lost to police brutality by flashing names across the jumbo screens, and it wouldn’t be the last time Megan shined a light on the social climate and racial tension. In October, she authored an op-ed for The New York Times dedicated to protecting Black women, and again on her “Saturday Night Live” debut where she called out Daniel Cameron, the faulty attorney general who presided over Breonna Taylor’s case.
Aside from being the town’s talk mostly in the eye of controversy, accolades continued to roll in for the artist. Megan went on to win Favorite Rap/Hip Hop song for “WAP” at the American Music Awards, and Artist of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards with the recognition sparking discussion amongst fans who felt male artists were more deserving. Unfortunately, that discourse wasn’t surprising as we saw how dialogue played out involving Megan. Most of it was men’s unsolicited comments about her lyrical content, wardrobe, and physical assault masked as critique, yet rooted in misogynoir. Still, it meant nothing to a woman who sought to control her narrative and continue to rise.
In September, TIME Magazine named the Hot Girl Coach one of the most influential people of 2020, and they were spot on. All that Megan accomplished during the rocky and unpredictable year 2020 made her worthy of all of the praise and acknowledgment.
Megan began to tease at the announcement of “good news” and eventually spilled that she would be officially releasing her debut album titled Good News, something she felt everyone truly needed. She played on the headlines and tabloids that kept the rapper’s name circulating with news clippings from numerous stories throughout the year. And during promotion for the album, Megan would reveal some good news of her own: She was named GQ’s Rapper of the Year.
On Nov. 20, Thee Stallion concurrently released her album and her single “Body” accompanied by a women-filled video. The song and choreography were quickly adapted by TikTok, making for another viral challenge. On the album, Megan divulges about the intimate and intricate moments of her life that many placed a microscope on, while maintaining themes of sex positivity and empowerment. She also explored her sound and ultimately presented her life on the front-page news from bad to good with very strategic tracklisting.
On the surface, it appears that the bad news outweighed all of the good, but when you look at the year Megan Thee Stallion had, it’s clear that she made 2020 her bitch — and she still is very much that bitch.