Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, and Saweetie dominated the summer of 2019 by being themselves, defying rap’s cultural standards, and centering their own wants, needs, and aggressions.
This year may not have had a definitive “song of the summer,” but what remains clear is fierce and fun women in rap controlled the season. Megan Thee Stallion introduced the concept of a “hot girl summer;” Saweetie developed a call-and-response craze with “My Type;” and City Girls’ “Act Up” possessed crowds and speakers at every summertime function.
With catch-phrases, hashtags, and, of course, music women not only prepped, cooked, and served the rhymes but devoured every meal this summer. They did so by being themselves, defying rap’s cultural standards and centering their own wants, needs, and aggressions, unmatched, and unbothered by their male counterparts.
In total, seven different female rap acts have reached Billboard’s Hot 100 charts thus far in 2019, the highest reported any year this decade. These entries come from Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, and Saweetie. Through features, albums, singles, EPs, and mixtapes, these women sparked a fire in rap that ignited women’s voices. With growing fan bases, fresh releases and the public demand for more women and more anthems, even as summer comes to an end, the flame continues to burn.
Saweetie tapped into the nostalgic, flipping Petey Pablo’s 2004 mega-hit “Freek-A-Leek” into “My Type,” an anthem for women to demand what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. Her introduction to the mainstream was born of giving another 2000s chart-topper a new era revamp. “Icy Girl,” a short and sweet track released in 2017, features Saweetie rapping over Khia’s iconic 2002 classic “My Neck My Back“ instrumental. The Bay Area artist went from freestyling on social media to performing at BET X Live during the 2019 BET Awards.
Her March 2019 EP Icy features “My Type.” The song slowly built the momentum necessary to define the summer. Now, any kickback, party, happy hour or cook-out looking to turn the function up a notch drops the familiar beat with Saweetie calling the shots. “Rich nigga, eight figures, that’s my type” prompts the call-and-response element that marks the songs standout presence in a sea of popular tracks.
For City Girls, their carefree summer anthem and attitude is defined by their distinct Miami swagger. With JT, half of the two-member, group behind bars, Yung Miami performed shows, dropped off guest verses and maintained a social media presence for the group as her partner completes a jail sentence. Before JT turned herself in on fraud charges, the duo recorded numerous songs and documented their tumultuous, yet inspiring, story.
City Girls create a narrative of women using what they have to get what they want on “Act Up.” Using lyrics such as “if his money right, he can eat it like a Snicker” and “Oh you like big butts, well I like big bucks,” JT and Yung Miami showcase a lifestyle of luxury including sexual pleasure and endless cash, often — but not always — at the expense of men. A “city girl” gets to the bag by any means, looks flawless while doing so, and does not take no for an answer. The city girls movement even provoked men to taking on a title of their own; but “city boys” held no candle to the girls’ flame.
Megan Thee Stallion solidified women’s rap reign. Growing an organic fanbase through viral freestyles and twerk videos, the Houston rapper launched the Big Ole Freak challenge, encouraging fans to hit a gas station, and simply dance. Her social media presence built momentum, establishing hype around the release of the May 2019 mixtape Fever.
During an interview with Okayplayer, Megan shared what she hoped to accomplish with Fever. On the project, she introduced the world to a new version of herself, contrary to the persona presented on Tina Snow, her June 2018 mixtape. Hot Girl Meg launched a movement. Her charismatic personality proved contagious, sparking hot girls everywhere to celebrate their summer wins carefreely. The now omnipresent catchphrase has been shared by people from celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith to fast food brands like Wendy’s. The hashtag #HotGirlSummer has over 300,000 posts on Instagram and has grown into somewhat of a household phrase that’s become popular enough to prompt the rising rapper to work on trademarking the slogan.
Megan’s mission to rule the summer is supported by not only fans but Stallion herself. Through Instagram and Twitter uploads, fans watch Megan live by her own words. From her looks to her charming nature, she abides by her own hot girl standards. Her practice of fostering friendships with men and women in the game only widens the impact of her “real hot girl shit.”
Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident,living YOUR truth , being the life of the party etc
— HOT GIRL MEG (@theestallion) July 17, 2019
Inevitable life events such as relationships and motherhood are often used as tools to quiet female rappers and this hot girl summer is not excluded. Fans proposed Megan Thee Stallion herself diminished the hot girl summer movement when rumors of a romance with Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo surfaced and Yung Miami publicly announced her pregnancy.
Women enjoying themselves often presents as an open door for men to enter and disrupt even when they were extended a peaceful invitation. Megan Thee Stallion did not exclude men from enjoying a hot girl summer, explaining how hot girls summer is a gender neutral term. Women used hot girl summer and city girl summer to celebrate themselves while men took a different approach, adding points to a nonexistent misogynistic scoreboard. Turning a carefree concept into virtual gender war, men proposed themselves as winners by disrespecting women, the digital battle of the sexes done in jest with men claiming to be “hot boys” and “city boyz.” However, the memes quickly entered demeaning territory. Most of the city boys points came not from their own wins but the downfall of women.
Still, the hot girls earned their trophy. Just before the turn of the season, the official “Hot Girl Summer” anthem dropped. Megan managed to land a feature verse from Nicki Minaj and enlisted hook-smasher Ty Dolla $ign. The song immediately jumped on the iTunes charts. “Hot Girl Summer” debuted at No. 11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 earning Megan Thee Stallion her third placement on the chart. All three rap acts created an impenetrable force field of feminine energy that not even the hottest boy of them all could break.
This summer not only highlighted the importance of women in hip-hop but also dispelled the myth that only one woman could reach this level of stardom at a time. Although their individual success is applaudable, the three acts amplify each other and every other woman who picks up a mic and steps in the booth.
Women in rap ran the summer and did it their way.
DeMicia Inman has written for PAPER, MTV News, Hello Giggles, and more. You can follow her work at MiciaGirl.com.