As KRS-One articulated throughout his catalog and in his many teachings, "Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live." As the culture continues to evolve today, many feel it's not only important, but vital to preserve and honor the fundamental elements: Graffiti, emceeing, breakdancing, deejaying and knowledge. This column called "Each One, Teach One" aims to do exactly that. It will highlight various lessons that can be passed between new and old generations alike.
Knowing what you want is a powerful thing. Having a vision in mind is an integral first step toward putting an idea into action. As exemplified in countless ways; when passion, drive and dedication are added to the fold, goals become that much more fulfilling as they become fully realized. For Megan Thee Stallion, there was no doubt in her mind that she was going to be a success. Once she made that decision for herself, her world changed forever. And when she chose to confide in her mother the nature of her dreams, it changed once more.
A proud Houston native, the 24-year-old rapper was exposed to hip hop at an early age. Her mother, Holly, who rapped under the name Holly-Wood, would bring Megan with her to her recording sessions, not yet knowing full well how the experiences would influence her daughter to want to pursue a rap career of her own one day. As Megan has candidly recalled in ample interviews, she began writing her own verses at the age of 14, but took years to work up to confessing her aptitude for rapping to her mom.
"I went home and told her I could rap, and she was like, 'No you can't,'" Megan recalled during a recent interview with Rolling Stone. "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!"
Take one glance at how much Megan has accomplished in the past two years alone and it's not hard to understand why her mother put her foot down, and mandated that she wait until she reached the beginning of her adult years to take the rap game by storm. Admirably, and much to the surprise of many, Megan is balancing her fast-rising career in music with completing her degree in Health Administration at Texas Southern University.
In fact, footage of her freestyling at college (and destroying her male opponents in a battle) initially helped kickstart her digital following, with many taking note of her talents as an MC. In 2017, she would disrupt the internet once again, dropping her viral "Stalli (Freestyle)" and setting the tone for what fans could anticipate from her first EP later that same year, titled Make It Hot. With thousands of eyes glued to her next moves, she went on to sign to 1501 Certified, a record label owned by retired baseball player Carl Crawford.
Her momentum was carried into 2018 and was further fueled by the release of Tina Snow, a 10-track collection that paid homage to the late Pimp C's Tony Snow persona and eventually led her to becoming the first woman to sign a deal in partnership with 300 Entertainment. The H-Town Hottie, who stands proudly at 5'10", is destined to make an impact, encouraging others to follow their own path and stick to their own scripts. As 2019 continues to unfold, Megan is winning over new audiences and inspiring the masses with each passing day.
As she readies her highly anticipated Fever project, as well as racked up millions of views with her latest Beats1 freestyle, Megan Thee Stallion is making sure her legacy is rooted in authenticity, confidence, enthusiasm, hard work and her undeniable drive to make a name for herself without having to compromise her individuality. While her career continues to take shape, there are countless examples of how Megan Thee Stallion is making an exemplary effort to do the damn thing without losing sight of what she stands for.
In the spirit of having ample Stallion'isms to serve as inspiration, whether in her lyrics or in her personable interviews, let's take a look at five takeaways that signify her destined influence.
Follow your own timeline.
While music has always been her main priority in the back of her mind, Megan Thee Stallion is trusting that her diligence will pay off in the long run. She's known full well that the task of balancing her schoolwork with her music would not be easy, but that would make it that much more worth it. Now, as a college senior, her goals are shining and waiting for her at the end of the tunnel, making it difficult not to cheer her on to the finish line.
During a recent interview with Essence, Megan spoke on the subject, explaining, "Like, [I'm] not gonna say, 'Get out here and do everything I'm talking about.' But you get the message of the songs: Be confident; don't let a man try to run your life. You run his life. Do you know what I'm saying? Just be free; that's just really what I like to support. Get your degree if you want to. I'm not saying you got to, but I'm just saying, like, it'd be a good idea to do that."
Don't let criticism affect you any differently than a compliment.
Megan Thee Stallion is undeniably gorgeous and is as self-aware as she is confident. As a woman in the spotlight, let alone a woman rapper in the spotlight, her sexuality has become increasingly intertwined with conversations revolving around her persona, her music, her perspective and her overall career. As hip hop continues to unlearn its historically misogynistic ways, there have been sufficient setbacks. Recently, Megan handled one arguable misstep with grace.
During an interview with DJ Smallz, she was asked if she "developed early" and if she "always had this body." While countless found the question to be cringeworthy and offensive, Megan took it with stride. She swiftly navigated past the sexist line of questioning and kept it moving, later explaining that the subject is not news to her and that she's since grown accustomed to men making comments about her appearance. She says she doesn't let stuff like that bother her, and that can be especially difficult and emotionally draining. To take a page from Megan's playbook, once you own your sexuality and identity, it's no different from mastering the art of making sure a compliment and a criticism don't affect you any differently. Take note, file it, learn from it and don't let it make or break your day.
Take ownership. Don't be afraid to strike a nerve.
Pop it, pop it,
Daydreaming bout how I rock it,
He hit my phone with a horse,
So I know that mean come over and ride it. - Megan Thee Stallion, "Big Ole Freak"
In line with the concept of not letting the opinions of others bring you down, regardless of whether you deem them positive or negative, Megan is making a name for herself rooted in taking ownership of her sexuality. She recognizes her power and is flipping the hip hop game on its head, similar to those who helped pave the way, such as Lil' Kim, Trina, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and more.
During a recent conversation with Rolling Stone, Megan reflected on her sexuality in depth, explaining how she's not here for any critique that all she does is talk about sex.
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 shared with the publication. "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.'"
While her music has been received with notably overwhelming positivity from women, it's not immune to hate comments from men, further proving how taking ownership of what you stand for is the best strategy.
Be open to competition, but know there is room for everyone to win.
Megan Thee Stallion is helping lead the charge and shape the landscape of today's contemporary rap scene as it is being driven by women. While she is competitive, much like the nature of rap by conception, she also knows that she's in a lane of her own, welcoming other women to get their just due, as well.
She recently spoke on the subject of women in rap with Essence's Yesha Callahan, explaining her perspective with a maturity that she puts into practice on a daily basis.
"I feel like since, like, forever, it has only been, like, one female rapper at a time," she shared. "And naturally, women are competitive. So I feel like, without beef, hip hop probably wouldn't even be what it is, so it's good to have, like, a little friendly competition here and there. I feel like eventually, we'll all realize that we're not trying to cross into each other's lane. Just because we might be rapping about some of the same things, we're not doing it in the same way. There's enough room for all of us to eat. So, as soon as we can get that together, then we'll be all right."
Work toward something that is bigger than you.
Megan Thee Stallion has both bars and goals for days. Another one of her lifelong dreams is fully within her reach, too. She's expressed that she'd like to open assisted living facilities around her hometown, with her desire to give back to her community a driving force behind her music. Megan also notes how she'd like to hire her fellow classmates as a way to provide opportunities for others looking to get a job after they graduate. At the end of the day, knowing your passions have the potential to be fully realized in a way that benefits the world at large is an incredible feeling, one that Megan doesn't take for granted. For that reason, of many, she has more than earned her spot at the top of the list of rappers, and visionaries, who got next.