"They put that check in my hand, now I’m killin’ ’em,” raps Megan Thee Stallion on “Realer,” the opening track on May’s Fever mixtape. Those words became somewhat prophetic: This year she toured with Meek Mill and Future; collaborated with Gucci Mane, Chance the Rapper, Quavo and City Girls; and made fans of Solange and Lizzo thanks to her blunt-force rhymes and savvy branding. The Houston native, 24, declared 2019 the year of the “Hot Girl Summer” -- a nod to her devoted followers, whom she calls “hotties” -- and turned the catchphrase into a top 20 hit of the same name that featured Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign. In a banner year for women in hip-hop, Billboard’s 2019 Powerhouse preaches sisterhood above all else: “There’s just so many rules that people try to place on women rappers, so we just have to keep breaking these barriers down.”
Your trademark for “Hot Girl Summer” was approved a few months back. What did that teach you about becoming a businesswoman?
I have so many different ideas, and I’m kind of an off-the-wall, spontaneous person, so I didn’t realize that if you have an original idea, you can actually own it. When I saw all these people using “Hot Girl Summer” as a part of their marketing plan, I was like, “Damn, let me do that!” I didn’t even think [the phrase] would be that big of a deal -- it was crazy. So it definitely taught me to protect myself and my ideas ahead of time.