“Sometimes you just got to remind people that you’re magical and everything about you down to your vagina and to your toes is magical,” says Megan Thee Stallion, who has crafted her own brand of Black girl magic in recent years, casting her spell over a diverse and growing swath of fans. The Houston native—named GQ’s Rapper of the Year—stars on one of three covers for GQ’s 25th annual Men of the Year issue for 2020, alongside George Clooney and Trevor Noah.
To say Meg has been on a ride this year (though, who hasn’t?) would be an understatement. Amid a series of hit singles and features was a life-threatening incident this past summer in which she has since alleged that fellow rapper Tory Lanez shot her in both feet. Initially quiet about the incident, which took place against the backdrop of global protests against police brutality and for racial justice, Meg now tells writer Allison P. Davis that Lanez offered her hush money during the incident.
“[At this point] I’m really scared because this is like right in the middle of all the protesting. Police are just killing everybody for no reason, and I’m thinking, ‘I can’t believe you even think I want to take some money. Like, you just shot me,’” she explains. In fact, Meg initially told responding officers that her feet had been accidentally cut, not deliberately shot at, an instinct she followed to protect Lanez and the others in their entourage. “[W]hen something actually happens to you, when you properly should have protected yourself, your first instinct was not to protect yourself, it was protecting other people,” she continues. “So it was like, ‘What do I do?’ ‘What do I say?’ Like, ‘Is anybody going to believe what I’m saying?’”
In fact, Meg was widely disbelieved and even mocked on social media, at one point even displaying her wounds to silence naysayers. But the results of the trial of the officers who shot Breonna Taylor on a no-knock warrant compelled Meg to enter the chat with a searing and instantly viral performance on Saturday Night Live in which she directly indicted Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron for his handling of the case (which has subsequently been under review).
The performance, followed by a New York Times op-ed, has made Megan Thee Stallion—who, after all of her early success and several industry obstacles, remarkably drops her first album on Friday—much more than a music star. Placing Black women at the fore of her messaging, she is equally putting a “savage” spin on Black feminism.
“I want Black women to be louder,” she tells GQ. “I want us to be sassier. I want us to demand more, be more outspoken, keep speaking and just keep demanding what you deserve. Don’t change—just get better. Grow from these situations. Don’t be beating yourself up about these situations,” she adds. “I feel we keep this stuff in and there’s some kind of way we flip it on ourselves. We didn’t fuck up—we didn’t do something wrong.”
And yes, that includes owning and exercising our sexual agency. “I feel like a lot of men just get scared when they see women teaching other women to own sex for themselves,” says the “Big Ole Freak” lyricist. “Sex is something that it should be good on both ends, but a lot of times it feels like it’s something that men use as a weapon or like a threat. I feel like men think that they own sex, and I feel like it scares them when women own sex.”
Meg’s message? “Bite yo’ lip, talk yo’ shit”—and let them be scared because you’re that bitch. “Even if it’s me rapping or if it’s me having a conversation with somebody, I’m going to make you feel like you are that bitch,” says Meg. Because you’re already that bitch—you somehow just need it stirred up for you. It’s like when you put the Kool-Aid in the water and it all fall to the bottom. But when you mix it up with the sugar, now it’s Kool-Aid. You just need somebody to stir it up for you. That’s me.”
The GQ’s December Man of the Year issue, starring Megan Thee Stallion, will be available on November 17.