Liz Foster ’22
In a world where bars held their doors wide open, strangers clustered in crowds, and brushing hands with someone on the street didn’t induce an instant flinch, Megan Thee Stallion appeared as a shining beacon. The Houston rapper leaped onto the scene in 2016 before picking up traction with the release of her mixtape Tina Snow in 2018. Her next break out arose in the summer of 2019 which would soon become “Hot Girl Summer”–named after a tweet from 2018. A song followed, featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign, the latter of which I still find unnecessary over a year later.
Megan Thee Stallion combines raunchy male bragadociousness (her sex life, her bag chasing, and her use and disposal of sexual partners), with feminine charm and a collection of signature ad libs ranging from her tongue pop “ahh”s and kissy “mwahs.” She has the swagger of a rockstar, the sex appeal of a video-girl, and the sensibility of a businesswoman. She plays no games and takes no prisoners. Yet, beneath her beauty and hot-girl attitude, she feels human in a way other stars don’t. Megan has befriended a range of celebrities including Beyonce, Kylie Jenner, and Jenner’s estranged ex-best friend Jordyn Woods. Her Instagram live streams allow her to speak on pertinent issues such as rapper Tory Lanez’s shooting and the recent passing of both her parents. The rapper is also entering her third year at Texas Southern University as she continues to pursue her higher education. The rapper has thus far balanced school with writing and recording multiple mixtapes and albums, and touring with massive industry names like Future and Meek Mill. She became an industry sweetheart and an icon for sexually empowered women as she dared to match the hypersexual energy so often abused by the men of the Billboard Hot 100.
Megan took over the scene with catchy dances, memes, and other Tik Tok content as the platform rocketed her songs “Cash Shit” and “Freak Nasty” to virality. Megan was even forced to eventually file for a trademark after brands continuously marketed lines with the slogan “Hot Girl Summer.” Anyone could be a hot girl in Megan’s world. As her songs rose throughout the Billboard Hot 100, Megan solidified that the final summer of normalcy belonged to Thee Stallion.
When COVID-19 arrived in the United States and forced college students home and onto online school, time previously consumed by physical class, socializing, and other on-campus, college-related activities was now free to be spent in a digital facemelt. Quarantine was, for many, months of scrolling through social media as the world crumbled to pieces outside of the shiny screen. Overwhelmed by the newest, most tumultuous event in many young people’s lives, Gen Z’ers turned to Tik Tok. As days stretched to weeks, Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Savage” slowly wormed its way onto users’ “For You’’ pages. For You pages or FYPs are carefully curated by Tik Tok’s algoritm as it feeds users new content in a way similar to Instagram’s “Explore” page.
The For You page proves itself time and time again as a shortcut for musical success in the internet age. Artists like Flo Milli and ppcocaine, who both boast multiple Tik Tok hit “sounds,” have recently gleaned the benefits of Tik Tok domination alongside Megan Thee Stallion. Most recently, ppcocaine, a 19-year-old best known for her raunchy lyricism and sugary, sour tagline of “trapbunnieBUBBLES,” scored a deal with Columbia Records following her overnight success on the platform. Songs on Tik Tok rise to fame in a way unlike other social media platforms. Trending songs on Tik Tok cast a wide and all-consuming shadow over traditional promotional advertisements through Snapchat filters, Instagram ads, or fan-targeted emails. All it takes is a little help from Tik Tok’s algorithm to push a song from user to user until someone 1.) choreographs a dance (Doja Cat’s “Say So”), 2.) creates a meme template from key lyrics (see Flo Milli’s “Not Friendly”), or 3.) snatches the song as a de facto anthem for their community (“XIX” by Kismet became a staple sound for the proudly self-titled “alt Tik Tok” community.)
“Savage” along with “Captain Hook” sparked viral dance routines and led users around the world to throw it back for a chance at a sliver of clout. Powerhouse influencers like Addison Rae, the platformer’s highest earner and a member of the popular collaborative house the “Hype House,” performed the song repeatedly. As everyday folks copied the app’s superstars, Megan’s songs climbed higher and higher. Tik Tok’s popularity often lands songs on Spotify’s curated playlists, leading more listeners to find and stream the songs. Dances and memes trickled onto Twitter and Instagram and soon enough, Beyonce had joined forces with Megan to catapult “Savage” to peak at the coveted number #1 space on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 26th. Even Charli D’Amelio, the app’s most-followed creator and de facto mascot, is a fan of Megan, her bio reads: “i am a megan thee stallion stan for life.”
In a summer shaken by coronavirus, a critical upcoming election, and general uncertainty of what the future could bring, Megan Thee Stallion reminded us that we are still hot girls. To close down this COVID-summer, Megan and Cardi B brought the heat with “WAP,” an ode to soaking genitalia everywhere that secured its number one spot on the Billboard charts and broke records with 93 million streams in its debut week. Coming as no surprise, the sound has been used over 2.5 million times on Tik Tok. As Hot Girl summer creeps closer to Hot Girl fall, Megan Thee Stallion continues to secure the bag, drive the boat, and rule the charts with her Southern charm, larger than life personality, and endless collection of bangers.