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It’s fun to do hood rat stuff with your friends. This 11-year-old viral meme appears on the second song of Megan Thee Stallion‘s hotly-anticipated new album, Fever (fittingly titled “Hood Rat Sh*t”), but it also functions as the album’s thesis statement of sorts: Megan isn’t here to be deep or reinvent rap’s wheel. She’s just here to have fun, do hood rat stuff with her friends, and look good doing it. In those goals, Fever certainly succeeds.
Megan first exploded onto the mainstream scene shortly after the release of her second mixtape, Tina Snow. So named for Megan’s favorite hometown artist, Pimp C (who hails from Port Arthur, Texas, as one half of the pioneering duo UGK, but was adopted by nearby Houston as one of their own), Tina Snow displayed a finely-honed delivery paired with a keen sense of self-aware confidence, setting Megan apart with sharp witticisms and machine-gun flows that proved she could live up to the high standard set by her spiritual ancestor.
She doesn’t only borrow Chad Butler’s brutally honest insights and straightforward delivery systems of Fever. She also shares with the late, great Houston icon the unique ability to turn plainspoken truisms about the transactional relationships between men and women into something like scriptures for adherents to “the game.” Where Pimp C would sprinkle his sometimes salacious observations throughout his rhymes — a favorite is “pimpin’ ain’t dead, it just moved to the website” — Megan flips the transaction on its head, reclaiming the power for enterprising women who put profit over pleasure.
“Damn, I want some head but I chose the dough instead,” she reflects on “Pimpin,” further expounding on the get-money-by-any-means philosophy that underpins the more uplifting aspects of her rhymes. It’s her willingness to take advantage of the thirst of men who won’t get offended if she calls them tricks (as she does on the spare, bass-heavy “Cash Sh*t” alongside fellow 2019 breakout rookie DaBaby) that creates the circumstances for the lifestyle she promotes — flossing new bags and going on trips is already enjoyable, but why not do it on someone else’s dime?
If it all sounds familiar to the overall tone of the wave of female rappers that has recently crashed into hip-hop’s nominally male-dominated shores, it should. It’s a mantra shared by Cardi B, City Girls, and a half-dozen other performers who’ve followed in their wake. Where Megan stands out is her bars-first focus — the only members of the new class of female rappers even coming close are Cardi B and Dreezy (with Queen Key sneaking up behind). Not only does Thee Stallion have an impeccable grasp of timing and rhythm, she’s got a wickedly sense of humor that twists her punchlines into one-of-a-kind one-liners that could only come from her.
“Pussy finger-lickin’ good like I mixed it with Old Bay,” she boasts on “Simon Says,” the DJ Paul-sampling club anthem featuring none other than fellow Three-Six Mafia mainstay Juicy J. “Simon Says” is already an early entry for song of the summer, building on the tradition of Memphis and Houston club hits and collaborations that goes all the way back to the ’90s. On “Ratchet,” another twerk-ready trunk rattler, she punks poor dudes by admonishing “Don’t be coming to the stage if you know you don’t tip.” Her raunchy raps on “Sex Talk” celebrate her independence, lavish self-love on her physical attributes, and even cite The Powerpuff Girls as a means to flex her wealth.
The beats on Fever, provided by a plethora of underground producers like LilJuMadeDaBeat and DJ Chose, are throwbacks to the late-90s/early 2000s era of Dirty South dominance over the airwaves, all thundering 808s and skittering snares, which lend themselves even more fittingly to Meg’s twerk-inspiring lyrical outlook. This is an album that reverses rap’s usual male-centric point of view, portraying the posterior-rotating antics as recreation for women rather than entertainment for men. It centers women as agents in men’s ostentatious spending sprees, switching their roles from the flies to the honey as they trap and trick guys for the money.
And it says to the rap game as a whole that Megan is deadly serious about using all of her assets, both lyrical and physical, turning her from the object of admiration to the ideal for aspiration, all while having the time of her life. While rap’s men have mean-mugged and threatened their way to success, rappers like Megan are carving a new path to the mountaintop, one that involves making use of men’s propensity to put pleasure over profit. Meanwhile, Megan will keep doing hood rat things with her friends, mixing business with pleasure and enjoying the best of both.
Fever is out now via 300 Entertainment. Get it here.