Last night, Megan Thee Stallion walked the iHeartRadio Awards red carpet dressed in a sculptural black velvet dress, the slit all the way up her thigh. She was there to perform her new hit single “Sweetest Pie” and collect a Trailblazer Award but, really, it looked like she was dressed for the funeral of an enemy. And Meg has many enemies gunning for her these days, a litany of online haters and real life antagonists bent on complicating her inevitable rise. There’s a reason for this, of course: It all boils down to greedy ass men with fragile egos and a latent hatred for women who have more and are more — more successful, more talented, more confident, more outspoken, less afraid.
To catch you up: Megan is trapped in an awful record deal with an awful label, led by a seemingly awful man, and she’s trying to get out. And so, over the past two years, she and Carl Crawford (founder of the independent label 1501 Certified Entertainment) have been in a back-and-forth of lawsuits and countersuits. Previously, Megan sued the label for preventing her from releasing new music because she wanted to renegotiate her shitty contract. In February, she sued the label again because she believes her recent album Something for the Hotties fulfills her contract obligations. Crawford has countersued, arguing that Something doesn’t count as a real album since it features previously-released music.
On Monday, Megan called out Crawford for clearly seeing her for the golden ticket she is and refusing to let go, after years of no investment in her artistry or career (she alleges the label has never even paid her). She tweeted, “First the man over my label said I don’t make him any money … now he counter suing trying to keep me on his label because he wants to make more money lol if I ain’t making you no money why not just drop me?”
Simultaneous with the legal battle with 1501 Certified Entertainment has been Megan’s ongoing legal and public battle with singer Tory Lanez, who she maintains shot her in the feet in July 2020. In the two years since the incident, Tory Lanez has messily tried to gain redemption by repeatedly questioning Megan’s victimhood on social media and even in his music. He released an album September 2020 in which he rapped “I ain’t do it” and claimed that Megan and her team were “trying to frame me for a shooting.” In other words he’s tried to control the narrative by blurring the truth and positioning himself, the aggressor, as the real victim.
I’ve seen people try to explain away the violence of it all. There have been many theories - Megan reached for the gun, they were all drunk on not thinking right, Tory was trying to defend Megan and accidentally shot her, Megan and her friend were fighting over Tory, etc — and what I fail to understand is how any of these theories, whether true or not, have any bearing on a fact that has been established: Tory Lanez had a gun, fired it, and Megan was shot. Regardless of the circumstances around what happened, it happened, and to quote her, Megan was “real life hurt and traumatized.”
Lanez tweeted this week, “Protect black men... don’t wait till we are all lynched, lied on and character assassinated to realize they have removed all of our legends and role models from the conversation.”
Clearly, he is positioning himself as one of the “legends” and “role models” of which he speaks. And how could a legend and a role model be all that bad? This muddying of the truth, victim-blaming and victim-claiming is such a tactic. Attack and prevaricate and make the act of harm you committed about you rather than your victim, and in doing so, encourage others (who latently hate or mistrust Black women) to join in.
Case in point, the same day Tory Lanez tweeted about protecting Black men–even Black men who don’t protect Black women, apparently–a woman on Twitter commented, “At this point Megan Thee Stallion is going to have to show us the bullet wound or something...” The tweet went semi-viral.
The irony here is that Megan in fact did share a picture of the gunshot wound, two whole years ago, because people on the internet were questioning whether she had told the truth about being shot. In addition to some choice words, to say the least, Megan responded to the commenter: “You better hope a man never assaults you and nobody especially women believe you!” Why does she even need to say this? At what point does she get to be believed, or at the very least, get to deal with a clearly traumatic experience on her own terms, in privacy, and without people playing into the historic neglect and dismissal of Black women who experience violence?
One of the statements Megan made in her tweet storm about Carl Crawford that struck me the most was just three words: “Greedy ass men.” Greedy ass men: a succinct term for all the men like Crawford and Lanez in the world, the men in whom ego, insecurity and misogynoir collide, exploding into a preoccupation with controlling (or more ideally stamping out) the inherent power in Black women that men feel they do not wield. It’s a greediness that goes beyond money and stems, ultimately, from an implicit belief that women do not deserve. Anything.
It’s interesting how, in a moment when Megan is experiencing some of the biggest success and visibility she’s had in her career thus far, these greedy men are trying to wave their big sticks and make her feel small. And still, she rises.
On the iHeartRadio stage last night, accepting her award for blazing a trail for women in hip-hop, Megan doubled down and let it be known: “I will keep on continuing to be a voice for the voiceless. I will keep on fighting for all the injustices that me, my Black women, my Black men are facing. And I will keep showing up and showing out even in the face of adversity.”
I think that’s beautiful. I also think, and hope, that Megan will not have to keep showing up and showing out while having to deal with anyone trying to control her life and her story. Black women make a lot of very difficult things look effortless. But there is an effort in continuing to take up space in the world when people actively work to make you feel like you don’t have the right to. In all of this drama, that’s what needs to be remembered. What the greedy ass men of the world don’t realize is that the opposite of greed is generosity, and it’s the generosity with which Black women continue to show up despite the fuckery that will always make them more powerful.