Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Hiss’ tops charts and hits back at misogynoir

The song comes after a more vulnerable release, “Cobra,” and points to a new chapter in the hip-hop artist’s life.

By Kristen CabreraFebruary 9, 2024 2:01 pm, ,

Houston native Megan Thee Stallion has been shaking things up in the music world for years.

Her new single “Hiss” is her first solo venture to debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The track is garnering much praise by fans and music critics alike.

Many are calling the song a “diss” track, pointing to lines which allegedly reference artists like Drake and Nicki Minaj, though no one is directly named in the song.  

Others are pointing out how “Hiss” is calling out misogynoir behavior sent her way after she was a very public victim of assault.

Taylor Crumpton, a Dallas-raised, music and pop culture journalist, spoke with the Standard on how “Hiss” and Megan Thee Stallions’ earlier release “Cobra” are ways for her to put an end to this chapter of her life. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: For folks who don’t know, could you briefly break down what happened with her and her colleague Tory Lanez? What some people in the music industry were talking about here in relation to this track?

Taylor Crumpton: Yes. Over the course of the past year, we have seen that this case play out not only in the court of public opinion, but in the legal court, the state of California, in which Tori Lanez was charged for assaulting Megan Thee Stallion with a firearm. And this case kind of brought to light the ways in which misogynoir, which is the anti-Black sexism that Black women experience, is seen in popular culture.

You know, for people of an older generation, a comparison was made to Tina Turner and how jokes about her assault at the hands of Ike Turner became fodder in the cultural zeitgeist and at the watercooler. So decades later, when Megan Thee Stallion was assaulted by Tori Lanez in the years leading up to the case in which he was charged, there were so many jokes made not only on social media, but in music, in news, in politics.

It was an overarching assault and something that she had to personally experience that resulted in a lot of music that is coming out of her as of late that speaks to the experience – the loneliness, the isolation, the depression, the anxiety, and the general belief that her as a Black woman was not believed.

So when we’re looking at her recent release, “Hiss” and “Cobra” – and I would even argue “Anxiety,” which was on “Traumazine” – we’re seeing her heal and work through these challenges in real time, which is so inspiring to women of her generation and also to other survivors who have felt isolated in their healing process.

You mentioned “Cobra” which came out before “Hiss.” A very different song than her usual. She comes out as incredibly vulnerable – talking about her depression, thoughts of suicide and the like. It seems like for this next album, she’s sort of taking us on her journey over the past few years. Would you say that’s fair?

Yes. You know, in the beginning to the video for “Cobra,” she has this parable as the snake shedding its skin, but it’s to say that she is shedding these old versions of herself, that she’s putting an end to this public-facing moment of her life where for four years everyone was looking at her.

So this is saying “I have shed my old version of myself. This is no longer what I’m going to be shackled to. It’s time for a new Megan to be birthed.”

Let’s talk about “Hiss” in more detail now. Now, Taylor, I use that phrase “diss track” because that’s what it is being talked about, certainly online. Would you agree it’s a diss track?

In the traditional sense? No.

You know, in hip-hop, diss tracks are essential, but it’s normally something where people are calling out the other rapper by name very directly – you know, a Jay-Z and a Nas, even a Nicki Minaj and a Remy Ma, right? Those are exchanges back and forth because hip-hop comes from battle rap, so “Hiss” doesn’t fall into that traditionally.

Now the lines and stanzas in there… Megan being from the South when she was interviewed, she says a “hit dog is going to holler.” So for us in Texas, in the South, we know what that means, right? So everyone who came out in response was the dog that got hit and is now hollering.

Now I know that there’s a particular line in this that’s getting a lot of attention. And here’s where that speculation that she’s going after Nicki Minaj comes from. She says something like, “they’re not mad at Megan, they’re mad at Megan’s Law” – Megan’s law, of course, requiring sex offenders to register and declare where they live. Can you explain why that line specifically broke the internet?

Yes. When Nicki Minaj and her husband moved to California, he forgot to register. Her husband is a convicted sex offender. And that created at first tension with Nicki Minaj’s fan base, the Barbz, that defend her and champion her.

So whenever that line hit social media, the majority of Nicki Minaj’s fan base – including Minaj herself, who went on Instagram Live to record a series of diss records – assumed that that line was about Minaj and her husband.

But unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple of years is that her husband is not the only one who could be impacted by this line, right? When we’re thinking about men in the entertainment industry – what’s happened with #MeToo, what’s happened with #TimesUp – the consensus is other people could have also been implied by that stanza, in that line, that Megan said.

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I see. Beneath the clever writing here, many are pointing out how those who are adjacently referenced in the song have also been outspoken naysayers spreading misinformation about that shooting incident we talked about earlier.

You wrote in a Bazaar piece about these instances of misogyny in the music industry saying, “It’s not the responsibility of Black women in hip-hop to address the racialized and sexual violence toward their community.” Can you say more about that?

When we think about Black women and all the organizing that they’ve been doing in the past 10 to 15 years – in the labor space, the domestic workers space, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Say Her Name movement – oftentimes they are the first to hold institutions into account.

However, we have seen that those movements that have been created – you know, #MeToo being created by a Black woman, but in the press that being credited to a white actress – there are ways in which Black women are overlooked and under-appreciated, under heard. Yet we are oftentimes the first ones to put our bodies on the line.

And when Megan was assaulted, the majority of people who spoke out against her were Black men, but also some Black women. So it is not her responsibility to have to go forward and educate and inform and advocate and have them to be on her side. It is the responsibility of everyone else to do that type of work.

You know, hip-hop is an ecosystem. We live in an ecosystem. So when people are speaking out and organizing and activating, they’re saying, “hey, I want you to be a participant with me. I want you to be an ally because I can only do so much.”

Do you think that that message gets through, given how much folks online sort of focus on the celebrity back-and-forth. The tit-and-tat. You know what I’m talking about? I mean, behind all of that, do you think that larger message comes through on “Hiss”?

You know, since she released that, I’ve been seeing a lot of news and media articles bringing attention to Megan’s Law. I think even that line, knowing Megan’s history of advocacy – that it comes from her mother and her grandmother – I think that’s something very emblematic about her being raised in the South. We want to do something that may be punchy, that may get your attention, but that helps others.

So I think the ones who really sat down and listened to the lyrics and know her heart, and what she has given to Houston and Texas, know that this is coming from a good place. But I think oftentimes in social media and digital media, the TikTok age, a message can get lost.

But kind of like, if I could throw back to the church, those who are in the pulpit will receive it. And I think her message is being received.

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