It’s the last weekend of summer, but Megan Thee Stallion has no time to relax. When the 23-year-old rapper calls from her native Houston on a late August Saturday, she is fresh from a radio interview, with a photo shoot immediately after. Most importantly, she will head back to school at Texas Southern University on Monday, resuming her studies toward a health administration degree. It’s a testament to her hustle that being a full-time student has not slowed Megan’s rapidly rising hip-hop career.
The rapper born Megan Pete dropped her most recent project, Tina Snow, earlier this summer. It’s 10 tracks of speaker-rattling Southern hip-hop, and she coasts over every beat. The project opens with “WTF I Want,” setting the tone for the whole tape over a taunting synth line. She raps, “Do what I want and you do what you can, that’s why I’m breaking your man,” and in case you didn’t believe her, ends the song with, “I’m still running through the mall with your motherf**kin’ daddy.” The project’s title comes from Megan’s alter ego, inspired by Pimp C and his Tony Snow alias. “Tina is the more pimp-ish side of me,” she explains. “Tina is the raw version of Megan, she just don’t give a damn.” Like its namesake, Tina Snow wields confidence like a superpower.
That confidence has garnered a following of fans Megan calls the Hotties (inspired by yet another alias, party girl Hot Girl Meg). “The main goal of my music is to make people feel strong and confident. To be a Hottie you gotta have a lot of self-love, a lot of confidence, you gotta be able to put your foot down,” she explains. “Hotties are supposed to turn other people into Hotties too. If you see someone that’s not quite confident, you gotta be the Hottie to gas up your friend.” A few hip-hop legends can join the ranks of Hotties as well. Megan posted a since-deleted video of her and Q-Tip visiting Times Square, and Missy Elliott responded to her “The Race” freestyle with fire emoji and a dancing Outkast gif. With co-signs that impressive, it’s no surprise Megan is “Cocky AF.”
Megan’s first assist from a fellow rapper was close to home—her mother, Holly Thomas, rapped under the name Holly-Wood. Megan remembers accompanying her mom to late night studio sessions, where the beats and flows seeped into her consciousness. She started writing her own verses in secret before revealing her talent to her mom. Thomas mandated that Megan wait to pursue her passion wholeheartedly until the age of 21, but now she’s her daughter’s manager, and a constant presence in the studio and backstage. Asked if they will ever release a collaboration, Megan laughs. “Sometimes when we’re in the studio, I get her so hyped that she’s like, ‘Megan, I’m about to get in the booth and come out with another mixtape.’ I don’t think that will happen because we bump heads, and we would definitely bump heads trying to write together.”
Her early verses were less focused on content than finding her own flow, writing verses she hoped would impress Pimp C and Biggie. Megan made her public debut at a college party, surprising an amateur cypher with her own ability. The 5’10” rapper’s stage name dates back to adolescence, when she was called a stallion for being “tall and fine.” “I don’t know where the body came from,” she laughs. She claimed the nickname as a social media handle then a stage name, and Megan Thee Stallion was ready to record.
Though she has a large social media following, Megan is skeptical of Instagram stars who start rapping merely because it’s trendy. On “Freak Nasty,” she raps, “you can’t compare me to none of these b***hes.” “There’s billions of women on the planet, but you’re not gon’ find one like me. I’m sure other women feel that same way about themselves,” Megan explains. “If a rapper wanna take it, they can take it, too.”
On last fall’s “Stalli” freestyle, she raps, “your favorite rapper only use onomatopoeia.” Beyond the flex of rhyming a six-syllable word, the line summarizes her attitude towards certain rap trends. “It’s like, where’s the words? A lot of people’s favorite rappers will literally get in the booth and just make sounds. Tell me where the lie is, then we can debate about it,” she says. Despite her sense of competition, Megan emphasizes that she has found a positive community in other artists. “Every artist I’ve met has been super nice. They tell me they do bump my music and they do rock with me,” she says. “If you’ve got love for me, then I’m gonna have love for you, period.”
The “Stalli” freestyle is her favorite song to perform at her raucous live shows. “They know all my songs word for word, but they scream this song. I don’t even have to rap, the crowd is just rapping it themselves the whole time.” The crowd goes wild whether sober or intoxicated, but Megan is prone to pouring Hennessy for fans in the front row. Even venues that don’t serve alcohol to the audience make sure to stock a cold bottle of cognac backstage. “It blows my mind every time,” she says. “It’s not that I’m asking for it. They just know I’m the ‘Cognac Queen!’” The number of friends clamoring to skip the crowd to hang backstage or even on-stage has become too large, a sign of her growing popularity. Megan has decided to impose some limits for her next run of shows at schools. “We’ll see how they react to that,” she laughs.
Tina Snow continues to build buzz thanks to her strongest writing yet. On “Good At,” she calls herself “a hood Mona Lisa, figure like somebody drew it.” Contrasting herself with biters, she continues ,“I look different, they congruent.” The only feature on the project is Moneybagg Yo, one of her “top five artists from this era.” Megan has set her sights even higher for future features. When asked about a dream collaboration, she says, “Beyonce. Me and B gotta do something. Houston needs that.”
Megan’s most recent project has already attracted new collaborators, like the 6ix9ine producer Concept P. Rather than relying on pre-fab beats from an email, the rapper has begun working in the studio with producers. Though she lacks the technical know-how to operate a DAW herself, she’s “sitting there, making the beats with them. I know what I want to sound like.” Megan has specific criteria for her beats: “The beat has to knock immediately. I gotta automatically want to start twerking.”
Thee Stallion is already at work on new projects, including a mixtape to follow up Tina Snow and another, more mysterious project. “Everybody’s gonna be surprised when they see what we’ve got cooking up next. I can’t tell you what it is til it’s done, but it’s gonna be crazy.” With multiple projects in the works, Megan writes everyday. “I get inspiration from the most random things. I could be pouring a glass of water and I’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah here go a bar right here.’”
As she works on new verses, Megan will also be writing papers and lab reports in her new semester at TSU, and she couldn’t be more excited. The rapper has shows planned on her campus, in addition to stops at schools throughout Texas. She laughs as she talks about the quirks of her double life, like classmates popping up in her Instagram comments. “When I went to register, I saw one of my professors,” she says, “and she was even acting a little different, a little excited for me to come back to school. I was like, ‘Okay, we got some ‘Big Ole Freak’ professors up here, I see you!’” Academic or not, any fan of hip-hop should be studying up on Megan Thee Stallion.