Inside the Meteoric Rise of Megan Thee Stallion

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Megan Thee Stallion won't be stopped.

Amid a hectic year that left many recording artists in limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hot Girl Meg keeps shining, no matter how many obstacles get in her way. She’s performing her first-ever live streamed concert on Saturday and could take home three trophies at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards the following night! Megan is arguably one of the biggest rising stars in rap, but that does not mean she shies away from vulnerability. 

Last week, Megan claimed that Tory Lanez shot her in July. In the emotional Instagram Live video, the rapper explained how police brutality and the fear of being brutalized kept her from telling authorities that she was shot. Lanez has yet to speak out on the situation.

Megan's reluctance to come forward initially, magnifies a larger issue surrounding the lack of empathy for Black women who experience trauma. However, the victim-blaming she endured on social media following the shooting compelled her to come forward with details about the night in question. 

"Stop trying to come on the internet and act like a Black woman, a grown a** Black woman, has a reason to lie on another Black man," she said in the video of criticism over her decision to remain silent to protect Lanez. "Even though he shot me, I tried to spare him. I go through so much s**t on a daily basis anyway."

After Megan's tearful admission, some Black male celebrities spoke out in her defense, including Michael B. Jordan, Chance the Rapper,  T.I., R&B singer Mario, and UGK rapper and fellow Houston native Bun B. In another show of solidarity, Jojo removed Lanez from a song on her Good to Know album.

With all the she has experienced, Megan continues to remind us to rise above negative circumstances. Megan and Cardi B recently made history as “WAP” topped the Billboard Hot 200, with 93 million streams -- the most ever for an opening week. Further making history, “WAP” is the only single by female rap artists to debut at No. 1.

It’s hard to believe that Megan has achieved so much without releasing her debut album. The delay could have something to do with an ongoing battle against her record label, 1501 Entertainment. In March, 1501 label head and retired baseball player Carl Crawford attempted to block the release of Meg’s Suga EP. Megan successfully sued the record label, the project was released, and “Savage” became an instant fan favorite. 

The recently named Revlon brand ambassador earned her first No. 1 single on the Billboard charts with a “Savage” remix, the popularity of which was fueled by the TikTok dance craze that swept through social media. The Beyoncé-assisted song even made it on former President Barack Obama’s 2020 summer playlist. 

As if teaming with Beyoncé wasn’t a big enough career milestone, the pair has forged a close friendship. 

“In the first five minutes of the conversation, I felt like I’ve been knowing her all my life,” Megan told Variety of meeting Queen Bey after being invited to JAY-Z’s New Year’s Eve party. “She treated me like family and now I feel like I am family. We talk all the time.” The definition of family is one that appears to be evolving for Megan as she builds a secure circle within the entertainment industry. So far, that circle includes Beyoncé, Rihanna, Normani, Cardi, and others who have rallied around her, particularly after the shooting incident. While the full details about the shooting remain murky, Megan confirmed early on that she was shot in both feet and had to undergo surgery. Lanez was arrested shortly after the incident.

Last Wednesday, Megan shared graphic photos of her injuries on Instagram to quiet naysayers claiming that she lied about being shot. 

Physically, it doesn’t appear that much has changed, but the emotional wounds are there. Hours after “WAP” made its debut, Megan admitted on Instagram Live that the shooting left her feeling “betrayed” and unsure of who to trust.  

“I just felt very betrayed by a friend,” she said without naming anyone specifically. “I felt betrayed by all my friends. I felt very shocked, very scared.”

“On a positive note,” she continued. “Taking some time to myself has definitely made me realize how to move forward and how to protect my energy. Imagine being 25 and you don’t have both of your parents. My mama was my best friend, you know…I’m still really not over [her death]…so you like kind of try to fill your space with a bunch of people that you think [are] making you happy.” 

Surviving traumatic and painful situations is unfortunately nothing new to Black women, regardless of whether or not they’re in the spotlight. And sometimes, deadly violence against Black women turns them into headline news. Like Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was shot to death by Louisville police while sleeping in her own home.

The painful duality of enduring tragedy amid triumph is not lost on Megan. “Black women are so unprotected [and] we hold so many things in to protect the feelings of others [without] considering our own,” she tweeted in reaction to people making jokes about the shooting. “It might be funny to y’all on the internet and just another messy topic for you to talk about but this is my real life and I’m real life hurt and traumatized.”

Megan Pete was born in Bexar County, Texas, in 1995. She grew up in Houston's South Park neighborhood, where she was raised by her mother, Holly “Hollywood” Thomas, an underground rapper who took her daughter along to recording sessions. Megan's father, Joseph Pete Jr., died when she was 15.

While Thomas recorded music, Megan soaked up the energy in the studio, quietly awaiting her “time to shine.” Being in the studio and listening to the music of her mother’s favorite rappers, which included Three 6 Mafia and Houston rap legend Pimp C, helped Megan discover her own rap dreams. 

“I told [my mother] that I wanted to rap when I was, like, 18,” Megan recalled in a 2018 interview. “She was like, 'You can’t rap,' and I was like, 'Yes I can,' and then I showed her I can rap and she was like, ‘You’re not coming out until you get 21.”

As her career began to take flight, life took another turn. Thomas, whom Megan regarded as her “best friend," died from a brain tumor in March 2019. Megan’s great-grandmother, affectionately known as “Big Mama,” died the same month.

The unbearable grief of losing her mother and grandmother pushed Megan deeper into work mode. Determined to continue the vision that she outlined with Thomas (who was also her manager), Megan's Fever mixtape was released on May 17, 2019, two days after her 25th birthday. And despite an already-packed schedule, she has continued to pursue a college degree from Texas Southern University. 

“I want to get my degree because I really want my mom to be proud. She saw me going to school before she passed,” Megan told People in June of her motivation to stay in school despite her music success. 

“I want my big mama to be proud,” Megan continued. “She saw me going to school before she passed [as well]. My grandmother that’s still alive used to be a teacher so she’s on my butt about finishing school. I’m doing it for me, but I’m also doing it for the women my family who made me who I am today.” 

Giving back, especially to other women, is as much of an important part of Megan’s personality as her ability to captivate a crowd with her highly touted twerk and "bionic knees." She has participated in, and hosted, multiple charity events, covered college tuition for her fans (aka “Hotties”), paid for the funeral of a fan who was killed after one of her concerts, and dedicated proceeds from the “Savage” remix to help Bread of Life, an organization assisting Houstonians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Megan also recently revealed that she will be hosting another scholarship giveaway. She and Cardi announced a $1 million cash giveaway in celebrating “powerful women,” and they've already starting dispersing the funds.

One of the many inspiring lessons to learn from Megan’s story is that no matter what she faces, she continues to look at the bright side of things, as she recently tweeted: “I’ve never been the type of person to let something disturb my peace for long.”

 

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