Rapper Megan Thee Stallion's Year In Music
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
2020 has been a lot. And among the many things it has been, it has also been the year of the Stallion.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVAGE")
MEGAN THEE STALLION: (Singing) I'm a savage, yeah - classy, bougie, ratchet, yeah.
CHANG: That is Megan Thee Stallion, the rapper from Houston. Her hit "Savage" attracted a remix featuring Beyonce, and it was followed by her appearance on an even bigger song.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAP")
MEGAN THEE STALLION: (Rapping) Now get your boots and your coat for this wet, wet, wet. He bought a phone just for pictures of this wet, wet, wet.
CHANG: That is her on the gloriously explicit song "WAP" from Cardi B. Megan Thee Stallion has been pretty hard to miss lately. She started the year on the cover of Rolling Stone, and she was just named GQ's rapper of the year. And now her debut album is out today. It's called "Good News." Pop culture and music writer Taylor Crumpton has had a listen and joins us now to talk about it. Hey, Taylor.
TAYLOR CRUMPTON, BYLINE: Hello. How are you doing?
CHANG: Good. So, I mean, Megan is only 25. She's made it to the top of the rap scene so quickly. Tell me, like, what sets her apart, do you think? What is it about her that fans have locked into so quickly?
CRUMPTON: Megan Thee Stallion bewitches millions of people through her genuine authenticity and confidence.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GIRLS IN THE HOOD")
MEGAN THEE STALLION: (Rapping) I'm a hot girl. I do hot - spend his income on my outfit.
CRUMPTON: I think from her earliest fans who fell in love with her via YouTube and saw her iconic freestyles to even her newly developing mainstream audience with the two singles - you mentioned both "WAP" and the "Savage Remix" and the original track that took over TikTok - she shows up in every single venue as herself. And I think that inspires people to be drawn to her, to call her a friend, an auntie, a family member, because I think we all see a little bit of ourselves in Megan.
CHANG: So when you think about that artist that Megan is, this authentic auntie, if you will...
CHANG: ...How would you say this debut album captures that piece of her?
CRUMPTON: I think this debut album really allowed me to see Megan through her eyes as a 25-year-old. You know, so much of the 17-track album is very poppy - and poppy, meaning, you know, happy and joyous. And I can only imagine the amount of Instagram captions and TikTok dance challenges we're going to see from these multiple tracks.
CRUMPTON: I need to work on my knees right now because they're not as young as they used to be.
CHANG: (Laughter) Love it.
CRUMPTON: But I feel that we got a good look at Megan Thee Stallion the pop star.
CHANG: And what track in this album speaks to that, that pop star that you hear?
CRUMPTON: I think "Body." She released the visual for it last night.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BODY")
MEGAN THEE STALLION: (Singing) I'm not the one to play with, like a touch-me-not. Body-ody-ody-ody-ody-ody-ody-ody (ph), ody-ody-ody-ody-ody-ody-ody...
CRUMPTON: It speaks to Megan always wanting to have this lively and fun, this body-positive, like, moment with her girlfriends or her sister-friends. And I love seeing, you know, Megan the pop star, someone who can give a good anthem but also can just dance. And I think that's one thing Megan loves to do. She's always been a dancer. And it's good to see her, after such a hard year, to be able to have fun with her girlfriends and dance and be allowed to do so.
CHANG: I mean, yeah. It was a really hard year for her. I mean, she got shot. And the very first song on this album actually addresses that head-on. Tell us what she's saying on that track.
CRUMPTON: "Shots Fired" is an interpolation of a classic Notorious B.I.G. song, "Who Shot Ya?"
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHOTS FIRED")
MEGAN THEE STALLION: (Rapping) Imagine lying, lying about shooting a real, real...
CRUMPTON: So for Megan to intentionally interpolate that sample to address her shooting, allegedly at the hands of Canadian singer Tory Lanez, is not only reflective of her understanding of the historical genre of hip-hop but also her place in it.
And further than that, within the song, she also addresses, you know, Black women across the United States. We never got justice for Breonna Taylor. So what a powerful opening track.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHOTS FIRED")
MEGAN THEE STALLION: (Rapping) Now y'all in cahoots. You a puss in boots. You shot a 5'10" with a .22. Talking about bones and tendons like them bullets wasn't pellets.
CRUMPTON: "Shots Fired" is her correcting the false livelihoods and mythologies and ideologies surrounding about her. And I think it is a good stance for her as someone who is going to be heavily regarded as a titan in the hip-hop industry as she further develops.
CHANG: Critic Taylor Crumpton on Megan Thee Stallion's new album "Good News." Thank you so much for being with us today.
CRUMPTON: Thank you so much for having me on.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVAGE REMIX")
MEGAN THEE STALLION: (Rapping) I'm a savage, attitude nasty. Talk big, big, but my bank account... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.