Megan Thee Stallion Claims Her Crown at Powerful L.A. Show

"Female rapper" isn't a genre any more than "all-female band" is a genre. But the sheer volume of female hip-hop talent that has blown up in recent years is a glorious thing to witness. While Kanye has distracted social media hounds with his nonsense, and Drake and Kendrick Lamar have been beefing up a storm, the likes of Doja Cat, Doechii, Saweetie, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice, Sexyy Red and so many more have chosen to focus hard on their music.

The world has apparently been hungry for these strong, confident, sex-positive, body-positive, impressive women. Judging by the atmosphere at the Crypto Arena in Downtown L.A. for Megan Thee Stallion and opening act GloRilla on the evening of Friday, June 21, that hunger is far from satisfied.

The question that hangs overhead is, has this level of talent always been there or are we in a golden period? We've seen Salt-N-Pepa, J.J.Fad, Queen Latifah, Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill, Eve and other glass ceiling-smashers over the years, but it always felt like the door was slightly ajar rather than wide open.

This writer once wrote a feature about female '80s rock bands, and the fact that the radio stations would only allow one to be in rotation at any one time. "The radio stations would tell us that they had one spot for an all-girl band,” said Leslie Knauer of the band Precious Metal. “One spot. Why not seven spots? Why not 30 spots out of 100? They would say, 'Between you and Vixen, it's whoever can pay for the most ad time.'”

One would imagine that this level of misogyny wasn't genre-specific. So if this is indeed a golden period for female hip-hop, institutional sexism within the music industry is likely to blame for it not being one of many more.

That said, Megan Thee Stallion is seizing the chance to claim her crown. She's risen to the very top with Nicki, Cardi and Doja--the premier league. The screams that greeted her arrival on stage, as lights and flames lit up everything in her immediate vicinity, signaled the esteem in which she is held by her already fiercely loyal fans.

What a gloriously mixed bunch they are. Megan attracts old school hip-hop-heads and contemporary electro-pop aficionados. Gay, straight, and otherwise. The young and the young-at-heart.

She knows it too. Striding on stage to "HISS" and its heavy groove, Megan soaks up all of the love and visibly grows (and she was already statuesque). She's a force of nature, with the sort of stride that the "Stallion" part of her name demands. She's the consummate show-woman too, holding court at this fantastic rap circus like the charismatic ringmaster that she is.

Her smile is luminescent, her dancing hypnotic, and her presence undeniable. But all of that would be fluff if the songs weren't magnificent. They are. One finely crafted, meticulous, dance-friendly rap banger after another.

"HISS" plus "Cobra" and "Boa" are all from the snake-themed forthcoming third album Megan; fiery future classics with a rock 'n' roll edge. "Cobra" sees Megan exploring themes of shedding skin and the past, of reinventing herself. Of unapologetically revealing her true self.

The set takes in shining moments from her already-illustrious career. "Kitty Kat" and "Sex Talk" are refreshingly candid journal entries, forthright statements of intent, while "Cognac Queen" is the celebratory musical tipple that Megan deserves ("come get your man, before I put him in a trance").

The beautiful, global controversy that is "WAP" received an airing--the crowd offering Cardi B's lines with full-voices. And Gorilla, who had earlier received a rapturous reception of her own as she expertly warmed up the Crypto, returned to the stage to perform "Wanna Be" alongside the headliner.

A defiant "Savage" closed the show. "I'm a savage. Classy, bougie, ratchet. Sassy, moody, nasty," Megan rapped, listing most of the traits that generated extreme affection from the Crypto crowd. You can add, "talented, witty, and artistically vital."

(Photos by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Live Nation)

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