Two years ago, videos of a cypher on a Houston rooftop began appearing online that showed a lone 21-year-old woman among ten rappers. Her name is Megan Thee Stallion, and she arrived in gold heels, Daisy Dukes and an attitude you can feel through the screen. At the time, she had only recently begun rapping professionally, but you wouldn’t guess it based on how confidently she delivered her explicit lyrics over an instrumental version of Drake’s “4pm in Calabasas.” The comments section responded in awe. “Chick goes hard,” said one viewer, summing up the general reaction.
Since then, Megan has scored major streaming numbers, earned comparisons to the likes of Trina and Lil Kim and signed a record deal with 300 Entertainment. Her music is unapologetically Southern, with her thick Houston accent bouncing effortlessly over sensual and bare trap beats, allowing her lyricism and delivery to shine through. On releases like her 2018 mixtape Tina Snow, which has been streamed more than 11 million times across all platforms, she offers a refreshing female perspective to a Southern rap scene whose stars remain largely male, and presents herself as a peer to unapologetically confident internet-first stars like Cupcakke, Rico Nasty, Cuban Doll, City Girls and Saweetie.
A few months after the 2017 rooftop cypher, Megan uploaded another clip, “Stalli Freestyle,” to her YouTube channel. In it she stands on a quiet suburban street in a crop top and yellow camouflage pants, blowing a kiss to the camera before leading into an accusation: “Boy, you know you bitch is not fucking with Megan/Your nigga not even fuckin’ you naked.” She closes a few minutes later with a shout-out to her Houston hometown: “I’m from the H, nigga, I am so trill.” The freestyle quickly drew over a million views on YouTube and endless reposts on Instagram.
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“I feel like I have to put on for my city, because we have so many legends and so many greats,” Megan tells RS. “But I don’t feel like we ever really had a female rapper come from Houston or Texas and shut shit down. So that’s where I’m coming from with it.”
She cites the late Pimp C of UGK, a Texas rap icon, as one of her biggest influences. Megan remembers listening to his music when she was as young as a toddler, mesmerized by his effortless talk-rap delivery. As an adolescent, she used the internet to discover Pimp C’s 2006 solo album, Pimpalation. “[Songs like] ‘Take it Off’ made me feel so confident and cool,” she says. “I was like, ‘If a girl was saying this stuff, this will probably go even crazier!’”
On the slick-talking, cocky Tina Snow — named after Pimp C’s alias Tony Snow — she takes on some of the UGK rapper’s foul-mouthed energy, extolling her sexual prowess with lyrics like “I told him ‘Eat it or get out!’/That’s your ultimatum” (“Freak Nasty”) and “Ain’t nobody freak like me/Give ya what you need like me” (“Big Ol’ Freak”). Megan spits over hard hitting hi-hats and heavy bass, expanding her distinct trap sound with hints of sleazy G-Funk influences on “Cognac Queen” and bubbly pop tinges on “Good At.”
That mixtape’s success caught the eye of 300 Entertainment, which has helped launch stars like Young Thug and Migos. She became the first female rapper signed to the label since its establishment in 2012. On her flight from Houston to New York to meet with the executives at 300 in November of 2018, she had her doubts. “I was nervous all day. ‘Is this really going to happen? Am I really about to be signed?’” Megan recalls. When she returned to the label’s office after a break, she was greeted with balloons, a bottle of Hennessy, and a contract on the desk. In an Instagram video taken in the office after she signed the deal, Megan pops a bottle of champagne and exclaims “Trill hot girl shit!” with her mother, Holly Thomas, by her side.
Born Megan Pete in 1995, Megan got a firsthand look at the recording process as a kid thanks to her mother’s rap career under the name Holly Wood. From 2001 to 2007, Holly released music and made attempts to start her own label. One of her biggest hits was a single dedicated to the late Houston legend DJ Screw, which received airplay on local hip hop station 97.9 The Box. This six year career was enough to inspire Megan. “I’ve been writing since I was maybe seven,” she says. “I was kind of shy about telling people that I could rap for the longest.”
After enrolling in Texas Southern University to study health administration, Megan saw her male classmates freestyling, which inspired her to do the same. Soon she was recording cyphers and freestyles around campus — and building up the confidence to approach her mother with her newfound talent and more than slightly suggestive lyrics. “I went home and told her I could rap, and she was like, ‘No you can’t,’” Megan says. “I’m like, ‘Yes I can.’ I started rapping and she was like ‘Oh my god! No, you not coming out ’til you’re 21!” (She says her lyrics at the time were “like how I rap now, but probably a little bit more ratchet.”)
Her mother recently quit a full-time job to become Megan’s manager, and Megan says she’s happy to have her there at shows, interviews and label negotiations, even when their perspectives conflict. “I’d rather get into it with my mama than get into it with a stranger,” she says.
In-between shows around the country and recording her upcoming studio debut, Fever — where she plans to debut a new alter ego, Hot Girl Meg — Megan still wakes up every morning as a full-time junior at Texas Southern University. “After Tina Snow dropped, I had so many performances and so many appearances, and I’m in the studio all the time,” Megan recalls breathlessly. “I’m like ‘Shit, I got to go to school!’ This is too much.”
While music is her main priority, one of her goals after she graduates is to open up assisted living facilities around Houston — which she says will be staffed by her fellow classmates, since she understands the struggle of finding a job after college. “I try not to make me being a rapper a huge deal,” she says. “Just like I’m missing class sometimes because I have to do a show, somebody [else] missed a class because they don’t want to be there. They can’t treat either one of us no different. I just try to get all my work done and turned in as soon as I can.”
Megan takes issue with the criticism she’s seen that her graphic lyrics are unbecoming of her as a female rapper. “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 says, sounding annoyed. “Well, we should be able to go equally as hard. I don’t want to hear none of that ‘That’s offensive!’ or ‘All she talk about is pussy.’” She and her peers are redefining what femininity means to them, asserting their sexuality on their own terms. And while the reception to her music has been overwhelmingly positive, especially from women, she isn’t bothered by the occasional hate comment from male listeners: “I know I’m striking a nerve that’s pissing that one specific man off.”
When she needs to feel grounded, she says, she confides in her mother. Sometimes, she even talks to herself in the mirror. “[I’ll say,] ‘We been through too much, Meg. We got this.’ and I’m like, ‘You know what? We do got this.’”