It’d be preposterous to deny the dominance of women rappers in 2019. And with Megan Thee Stallion at the forefront, acknowledgment of any other emcee as the proverbial rookie of the year would be downright blasphemous.
After a slow-simmering rise from the southside of Houston to Hollywood, the 24-year-old set the industry ablaze this calendar year with one seasonal mantra: Hot Girl Summer. The persona-driven campaign ran in perfect sync with Meg’s burgeoning fan base of “Hotties,” allowing her to capitalize off that branding and craft a platinum-selling single with Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign. The song “Hot Girl Summer” enjoyed success both in the culture and on the charts, becoming Megan’s first No. 1 on Billboard’s Rhythmic Songs list, as well as the Rolling Stone 100.
But the head Hot Girl’s summertime takeover wasn’t sudden. For years, Meg has balanced the often-strenuous load of a college student with her rap star ambitions, frequently posting freestyles to hip-hop classics on Instagram between her health administration studies. Her most notable clip was her now-viral 2016 “Houston Cypher” performance.
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Standing as the lone lady in a circle of men, Megan out-classed every other rapper in a pair of strappy heels, daisy dukes and a revealing crop top. In that cypher, Megan Thee Stallion showcased the uncommercialized confidence and unapologetic ownership of her sexuality that would soon catapult her into hip-hop’s top ranks.
“Big Ole Freak,” off Megan’s 2018 Tina Snow EP and officially released as a single in January 2019, added fuel to the Hot Girl’s fire. The Al B. Sure-sampled hit introduced Meg to the charts, debuting at No. 99 on Billboard’s Hot 100 before peaking at No. 65. Already a radio favorite, the song’s steamy visuals highlighted the Texas throroughbred’s voluptuous 5-foot-10 figure (the inspiration behind her “Stallion” sobriquet) and drew just as many eyes as it did ears. Soon after, the demand for Thee Stallion multiplied. Music magazines such as Fader, Rolling Stone and XXL scrambled to get Megan on their covers; feature prices went up (see: Wale’s “Pole Dancer,” Quavo and City Girls’ “Pastor” and Gucci Mane’s “Big Booty”); and high-profile deals were on the table, culminating in her signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management in September.
Adored for her magnetic charisma and disarming genuity, Meg has quickly become the bell of the industry, striking up visible friendships with Nicki Minaj, Jordyn Woods, Trey Songz, Wiz Khalifa and more. Most admired by friends and fans alike, however, was the rapper’s perseverance through one of the most challenging times in her life: the devastating passing of her mother, manager, and former rap artist, Holly Thomas, in March.
In honor of her late mother, the 24-year-old refused to put her pen down, releasing her debut mixtape, Fever, that summer. The 14-track project mobilizes the sort of lyrical prowess and evergreen hooks that make for lasting success. Right on time for the season, Fever also unleashed some of the summer’s most memorable bops, including “Cash Sh*t” with DaBaby and the Juicy J-assisted “Simon Says.”
Celebrated throughout the mid-year months, Megan’s Hot Girl Summer quickly moved from mantra to movement. It was deeper than getting laid and lit for the summer. She didn’t define any singular, narrow idea of what women’s empowerment is or should be for the Hotties, but instead encouraged them to define it for themselves through exploration of their own bodies, sexualities and relationships without feeling bad about it afterward. As Cardi B, Kash Doll, Cupcaake, Doja Cat, Dreezy, Rico Nasty and other women in rap exhibited in 2019, Meg further evidenced in her first-year rodeo that hip-hop doesn’t exist in separate vacuums for women that divide sex and consciousness.
Undoubtedly, Megan Thee Stallion and her global Hotties ran the summer, the airwaves and our timelines in a uniquely refreshing way that invited women of all sexual and social identities to enjoy. Let the record show that for 2019’s brightest moments, we owe the Houston Hot Girl an eternal debt.
(Photo: Presley Ann/Getty Images)