When Megan Thee Stallion enters the Billboard offices, she exudes a confidence of an artist that has been mastering the game for at least a decade. Yet the 23-year-old Houston native has only been professionally rapping for two years, initially gaining steam when a cypher featuring her completely obliterating a freestyle over Drake’s “4pm In Calabasas” went viral.
Since then, the rapper (born as Megan Pete) dropped her first EP titled Make It Hot in 2017, and followed it up with June’s Tina Snow mixtape that found her channeling her biggest influence — the late Pimp C. Standing at a majestic 5’10’’, the rapper’s stature is just as intimidating as her lyrics, where she audaciously boasts about showing how she can freak your man better and proving how much she’s a bad ass bitch who didn’t rely on a co-sign. “If you are not dating somebody popping or you are not just acting a complete ass, then people nine times out of 10 are probably not going to know who you are,” Megan tells Billboard. “You find out about me because of my music, and that’s how I want to keep it.”
But not only can Megan can spit just as hard as her male counterparts, she’s doing while still in the middle of getting her degree in health administration at Texas Southern University. And her talents are making a mark: she signed to 300 Entertainment in November, home to fellow rappers Young Thug and Tee Grizzley.
“I’m just ready to take over,” she continues. “Everybody was seeking me. There were so many different labels coming to me and they just didn’t seem right, but 300… they wanted me bad. It felt like a family.”
One of the first tasks on her agenda as a new signee is releasing another mixtape, simply titled Fever. Highlights include the rowdy “Shake That,” which will have ladies ready to show off their twerking skills, and the bass-heavy “Sex Talk,” which lays out all the explicit ways Megan prefers to be seduced. But before Fever arrives in January, the rapper spoke to Billboard about feeling underrated, the state of SoundCloud rap, and balancing school with her rising fame.
Take me back to the moment you realized you wanted to be a rapper.
I was probably like seven. And my mom used to be a rapper, and used to take me to the studio with her. I would be in the little waiting area, and she would probably think I was in there asleep, or doing little kid stuff. But I’m really in there on the door, like, “OK, what’s she in there doing?”
So one day I just took one of her instrumentals from her CDs — because I don’t think YouTube was like popping like that back then — and I started writing over it. And then eventually, I just gradually started stealing them! And she’d be like, “Where are my CDs, Megan?” [Laughs.] So when I was probably 18, I came to my mom and was like I want to rap. She [told me] “you can’t rap.” I don’t even know why I was hiding it from her. So I rapped for her, and she was like, “Oh you ain’t coming out until you 21!” So that’s how we got Megan [Thee Stallion] started.
I didn’t know your mom was also a rapper. What did you learn from her experience?
She never really had to [give me advice] because I guess it was just in me already. [I was] just picking up from where she left off. She was like hardcore rap, but I’m a lover. So she definitely just tells me to wreck these hoes all the time — and that’s what I do!
You had such a rapid rise this year, but was it hard to adjust to that instant recognition — especially since you’re still taking college classes?
Everybody’s telling me, “Oh Megan, it happened so fast!” And I’m like, “Well shit. I feel like I’ve been writing all my damn life!” So for it to finally happen for me, I’m just thinking — we’ve got to keep working harder. Because my main thing is just to keep outdoing myself.
I’m still in school and at first, I’m not going to lie, it was kind of easy, because I wasn’t so booked. I only have to go to school two days out of the week, but I’m there all day long. But now that I have something to do almost every day, it is pretty difficult. So I’m just doing my best. I’m trying to tell my classmates, “Look y’all, send me my homework!” [Laughs.]
Only one of my professors right now knows that I’m like a whole rapper. She followed me on Instagram and when I came to class she was like “Megan, so you got a little alter ego!” I was like, “Oh my god. Don’t follow me!”
I read that you wanted to open assisted living homes in your hometown after you graduate. Is that still the plan?
Yes, that’s still the plan. And you know how it’s so hard to get a job after college? So I thought it would be super easy for my classmates if I just opened up something that they could go get a job at. I knew I didn’t want to be a nurse. And once I started getting super popular with my music, I knew I probably wasn’t going to go to medical school. And then blood kind of makes me a little squeamish, so I was like, “I don’t want to touch nobody.” But I want to run the hospital. I don’t want to do the dirty work, but I definitely want to put it there for people to come and help others.
Taking it back to music now — this year saw an influx of female rappers who didn’t get their due shine. Do you feel underrated?
I feel that artists in general, but definitely women — if you are not dating somebody popping or you are not just acting a complete ass, then people nine times out of 10 are probably not going to know who you are. So I just have to keep going hard with my music, because the way people know me is from my music. They don’t know me from anything else. There’s no drama. I’m not with anybody. So if you find out about me, you find out about me because of my music, and that’s how I want to keep it.
What are your thoughts on female representation in rap? What’s missing?
I feel that there needs to be a better representation. There always have been so many female rappers. It’s just that a lot of female rappers don’t get the opportunity to come and showcase our talents. This year, they’ve been putting the spotlight on us. I love how everybody is turning up and taking advantage of it. But it’s a lot of play-play female rappers [who don’t take music seriously] and I just want the real ones to just be able to come take over.
In general, do you like where rap is going with the rise of all these young, tattooed SoundCloud rappers?
I hate that people have made the term SoundCloud rapper into a bad thing, because a lot of artists are underground and they don’t have a way to put their music on. But to get that clout, to get that popularity, you might want to upload your music to SoundCloud — because how else is everybody going to hear it?
But that mumble rap? There’s a time for mumble rap and there’s a time for serious rap. You go to the club and you want to turn up put that mumble rap on, because we drunk. We’re not trying to hear your conscious rapping! We don’t want to sing all them lyrics. So I just feel like everybody is doing a good job of doing their thing. I feel like we need just to make sure it’s a good balance.
Houston is known for its chopped & screw style, but your music is more intense, vibrant. It’s refreshing. Was that intentional?
But we’re not even on that wave right now. We’ll forever be chop and screw. But definitely, we are evolving into something more crazy. I can’t wait to see what it sounds like in a year from now.
I don’t want that stigma on me. Like, I am from Houston, but that doesn’t mean that I’m just still going to carry out something that was happening in the ’90s into right now. I appreciate it, because I’m from there. I listen to my own music chopped and screwed. But everybody in the whole wide world is not on that.
And you’ve always looked up to the legendary Pimp C.
My favorite rapper! I like Pimp C’s cockiness. He makes me feel so confident and he makes me feel so cool. So definitely when people are listening to my music I want them to feel like that too. Biggie inspires me too. I love his wordplay — he could be talking about spreading jam on toast and he’ll word it in such a cool way. So I’m like “Okay, how can I do that?”
I love that you’re so confident with your sexuality, and you seem like a go-getter. Do you have advice for women who may be afraid to really go after what they want in life?
When I make music, I hope it gets inside of somebody and they feel like, “You know what? Fuck this, I am a bad bitch!” I know that I have to stay the way that I am to continue to inspire other women to feel [the same]. Confidence literally starts from yourself. You have to go look in the mirror at yourself. If you don’t like what you see, you’re going to give off that energy.
I feel like people can tell that you’re not confident in yourself, so they’re going to handle you like you’re not confident. You just have to wake up and think, “Okay maybe this is not going good for me today, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to go good for you next month.” You didn’t get this job, but that don’t mean that God didn’t already make you not get it, because he knows he about to hook you up in six months. So definitely it’s all about your own personal mental. You’ve just gotta stay strong and never give up. Just because something’s not happening right now doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen later.