On Monday, Bun B broke through hip-hop’s silence about the Megan Thee Stallion/Tory Lanez shooting by chiding “f*ck Tory Lanez,” and noting, “I’m from Houston and if somebody would have done something to Megan in this city, we would’ve rode.” His fiery statements were followed up by fellow Texan Maxo Kream, who brought up an LA incident he had with Tory Lanez and proclaimed, “Tory Lanez a b*tch, bro. Any n**** from Texas that ain’t standing up for Megan y’all some b*tch-ass n****s too.”
It was about time someone said something. The two Texans were a bit late to come to Megan Thee Stallion’s defense, but at least they said something. That’s more than most rappers have done since Megan took to Instagram to announce that she was shot in the feet, and recently outed Lanez as her shooter.
It would seem simple enough for artists to express sympathy for her and post about the needlessness of gun violence. But while it’s nothing but positive Q-points for them to tweet about arresting Breonna Taylor’s killers, an issue most Black people agree on, it becomes more of an exercise in politics and optics for them to speak on an issue involving two hip-hop community members. When it comes to a fracture between a male peer and a woman especially, it’s not hard to guess which way things will go.
Bun B stated the obvious when he said, “Nobody is talking about it because it’s a Black woman. And y’all can say what y’all want. That’s just what it is.” Artists are prone to defend their male peers at all costs. And if the evidence dictates that they can’t do that, they generally keep quiet. The response to Megan’s shooting exemplifies that in many ways, hip-hop is still a clueless boys club.
What would Bun B and Maxo say if Megan wasn’t from Texas? What took them so long to speak out? It’s worth wondering. Megan has been on a figurative island for the better part of two months, facing childish ridicule and criticism from a who’s who of hip-hop. From 50 Cent sharing memes to Draya trivializing domestic violence to Cam’ron implying she was a trans woman, the 25-year-old has been the object of relentless jokes by people way too comfortable disrespecting women.
There’s been immense commentary about the disgusting insults being levied her way. Writer Taylor Crumpton pondered in a sharply-titled Women in Hip-Hop Cannot Thrive While Misogynoir Exists piece, “Who hears a Black woman’s cries of fear and pain if their personhood is stripped away? If Black women are no longer regarded as human, then their bodies are deemed deserving of disproportionate amounts of pain.”
Megan has faced immense pain. Last year, Megan lost her mother. This year she was shot. That trauma is hard enough to bear without feeling as “unprotected” as she expressed feeling in July. There’s been a glaring silence amongst males in the hip-hop community. No one from Megan’s Roc Nation management or 300 Entertainment label has released an official statement of sympathy. It took two months for Bun B, Maxo, and T.I. to speak out.
When Boosie was recently asked about the shooting, the infamously outspoken artist took the high road. He expressed that “I don’t want to say the wrong thing,” but in a situation so cut and dry, his neutrality amounts to protecting the aggressor. What does it say when an artist who had graphic comments about 13-year-old Zaya Wade, and has several 2+ hour interviews with DJ Vlad, is mum about something seemingly so easy to soapbox about? Boosie expressed that he wanted to get a feature from her, expressing admiration for her artistry while simultaneously disrespecting her humanity.
But that’s par for the course in hip-hop, a deeply patriarchal industry where men have reigned supreme and women have for so long been ancillary characters. Woman agency isn’t respected, so when they come out against men, their claims are swept under the rug. The fraternal solidarity is why Akon guesstimated that, “half the time, [women] will set up a charge just for us to settle out” when defending Nelly. And why rapper Cash Talk said, “We don’t know what happened in that car,” but then blamed Megan by claiming, “Y’all know females be tripping and sh*t!” When there’s a lack of evidence, misogynistic men always find it safe to lean on pathology.
It’s why R. Kelly maintained a career long after his abuse case. And it’s why Chris Brown (who asked people to stop comparing him to Tory) still collaborates with a range of artists despite what happened to Rihanna.
Like Megan, Rihanna is regarded as a sex icon by male artists. Men flirt with her in songs and clamor to collaborate, but few of them came out to condemn Chris Brown, even after graphic photos came out of what he did to her. Men know how to sexualize women but rarely humanize them. Women’s perceived inhumanity then makes it easy to stand silent at their abuse, especially when it entails breaking the code and condemning another man.
Bun B, Maxo, T.I., and others deserve credit for coming out against Tory Lanez. But sadly, they’re the exceptions proving the existence of a pathetic rule. People had a lot to say in critique of “WAP,” but less to say about Megan being assailed. That selective silence is blatant misogyny, which justifiably makes Black women take pause at patronizing male artists. Women are rapidly rising in rap. As calls to make the XXL Freshman list an all ladies list indicate, the “first lady” days are gone. It’s not imperative to have mostly male artists in playlists anymore. If men in rap don’t do some deep reflection on their misogyny, they’re going to continue to lose the female fans that they do little outside the booth to deserve.
Megan Thee Stallion is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.