Black female rappers are placed in the supermarket of the binary, where they’re not only fighting for the fleeting, singular moment of the it-girl status, but also fighting against stereotypes, from the woke, girl-next-door lyricist to the femme fatale, sexual siren. Each act, both conventional and unconventional, is seen as an act of transgression or rebellion. This has placed Black female artists in a position to reproduce their identities again and again through the alter-egos they perform and their branding. Megan Thee Stallion escapes the narrow confines of these binaries; she is both a student at Texas Southern University and a rapper as a side hustle. (“Out here struggling, looking tired/ Going to school breaking the rules, Pattie LaBelle gotta new attitude” she raps on “Pimpin.”) She has a Plan A and a Plan B and multiple personas: she enlists Hot Girl Meg, Tina Snow, and Money Makin’ Meg to reproduce herself, to express her desires to be pleased and to get paid, and she does so on her own terms.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, she states “You let the boys come up in here and talk about how they gon’ run a train on all our friends and they want some head and they want to shoot everything up, and they want to do drugs.” She continues, “well, we should be able to go equally as hard. I don’t want to hear none of that.” Instead of feeling like she has to disrupt both the imposed and implicit projections placed on her because of her gender, race, and region; Thee Stallion teases you with them. Uninterested in the limitations placed on her, she is reaffirming her status.
Fever isn’t much of a departure sonically and lyrically from Megan’s previous mixtape Tina Snow; she continues to deliver libidinous bars, talks about the money she’s making and stays energetic in her brash, fun anthems about weak, hater bitches over minimal bass-heavy production. But this time her flow and delivery are sharper. She sounds more expensive. While most rappers make you feel like you’ll never be able to reach their level, Megan doesn’t want to be cool for you, she wants you to join in on her fun, she wants you to be your most positive, sexed-up, hella paid self, and she gives you the instructions on how to do just that on “Simon Says” featuring Juicy J.
On lead single “Sex Talk,” Megan raps “Ayy, yeah, let’s have that sex talk/ Wanna see your body, take your clothes off/ Ima bust quick if your lips soft/ Rock that ship ’til ya blast off.” She’s implying that she is in control in the bedroom, and she finishes the verse with a smirk: “Ay, yeah, let’s have that sex talk, got a big boy then pull it out hey/ can make you feel like the first time/ I don’t get tired, let him wear out.” Purposefully talking about her desires needing to be met first and foremost, men are merely objects to meet that goal, she is in control of her sexuality.
In her essay “Uses of the Erotic” from Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde writes about the erotic as a source of knowledge and joy that has many functions. “The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” She goes on to say that “satisfaction is possible and it doesn’t have to called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.” Megan Thee Stallion, aware of her sexual appeal, as we watch her perfect her craft and gain notoriety, continues to be relatable, even as people treat her and her body like a freak show. We know Hot Girl Meg, we know Tina Snow, we know Money Makin’ Meg but we don’t really know Megan Pete, daughter and student of Holly-wood, born in Houston Texas. Megan’s easy to root for because she’s good at what she does and she makes you want to feel good too.
What can also be learned from this text-making of self, through her alter-egos, is how she expertly distances her personal life from her music. She oozes Houston, she has her tongue out and invites her fans across the country to “Hottie Parties” where they “ride the boat” and take shots of cognac with her. Her joy is palpable and sexy. As she expertly paces over each track, climbs each ladder to the top, it’s evident that she is merely getting started, and her music makes you want to drip, sweat, twerk, jiggle and dance till you knees give out. With Fever, she reminds us that her brand and her music aren’t adversarial, she’s accessible but she has her boundaries, and she delineates them through what she refuses to talk about, which is arguably her best display of her autonomy and agency.
Fever places Megan Thee Stallion in the lineage of Trina and Lil Kim – female rappers that shook the stability of the grounded gendered norms that seek to regulate exploration of what Black femininity truly is: unbridled. Megan not only embraces her lineage but she cites it, seeks to get respect from those that paved her way. The “Hot Girl Cinematic Universe” is introduced with the Fever album cover, with Megan Thee Stallion’s body oiled up, wearing a cheetah print fit and looking like the flames are lighting her skin. Her mouth is agape, she is inviting and enticing, giving you a taste because this isn’t a debut album, it’s a mixtape and she’s already hot. Heat rises, and this summer’s Stallion Season.