She rode in on a white horse, but this was no Taylor Swift moment. Not unless Taylor Swift wore a bikini top and assless chaps, shot fake hundred dollar bills minted with her own face out of a "Make It Rain" money gun, or poured Hennessy into her writhing fans' open mouths.
No, this was Megan Thee Stallion's moment—the latest in a whole year full of them, really—a raunchy, raucous, glorious moment celebrating her latest project, Fever, and, more broadly, her meteoric rise to the top of hip-hop's most-watched list.
Born Megan Pete, the 24-year-old emcee is a lot of things: a TSU student finishing a degree in health administration; the daughter of the late Holly Thomas, who throughout Megan's childhood spit her own rhymes as Holly-Wood; the first female rapper signed to 300 Entertainment; unapologetically loud, lustful, and, most of all, Houston.
All of that came together in Spring Branch last night when hundreds of diehard Stallion stans—hotties, as she famously calls them—crammed into Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, the sprawling, Western-themed gay bar and former home of the historic Esquire Ballroom, where Loretta Lynn once waitressed and a young Willie Nelson got his start. We learned from Debbie, one of the saloon's very pleasant and conversational owners flitting around the outrageous party, that Nelson even slept in the very parking lot now filled with fans—some waited more than two hours just to get inside—and tons of slabs tricked out with swangas and hydraulic lifts, alternately bumping Megan's biggest hits ("Big Ole Freak" on repeat) and—duh—DJ Screw.
Indeed, there would be no two-stepping here tonight, but plenty of twerking. Spotify transformed the countrified space into "Megan's Hottie Ranch," where the music (vintage Nicki Minaj, Ginuwine, Juvenile) was loud and the drinks (Hennessy-based "Cognac Queen," vodka-and-watermelon "Hottie Juice," et cetera) were a deadly combination of strong and free.
Spotify—and Megan—hit on something with this party: There's a certain appeal to a raunchy rodeo, a blowout right at the nexus of country and hip-hop. It's exactly why Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus went viral with "Old Town Road." It's cowboy boots and gold chains; Lone Stars and dirty Sprite; George Strait and Slim Thug. It's Texas. It's Houston.
The hometown crowd was hyped off free-flowing "Hoe Down Punch" and the thrill of seeing their young queen up-close and personal (she gamely posed for selfies and frequently summoned for bottles to empty, waterfall-style, into the crowd—her trademark move—trailed all the while by a posse no less than 30-deep). Our first impression of Thee Stallion as she paraded past, inches from our face: She's tall (5'10" without heels). She danced on stage in her cowboy hat and diamond chain, her ravenous audience champing at the bit for her to perform. When she did—"play that 'Big Ole Freak!'" she yelled to her DJ, fans going wild brazy brazy—nearly every single person in the crowd knew every single word, spitting each bawdy, boastful lyric along with her and never missing a beat.
When she did "the new shit"—straight bangers off Fever, released today and already topping the charts, a surefire summertime smash—the room went crazy. By this point, it was midnight on a work night—Thirsty Thursday for Megan, though, who's still in college—and there were no signs of stopping the debauchery anytime soon. We could've stayed all night, twerking beneath the glow of a neon sign and reveling in the rapper's presence, so thrillingly on the cusp of stardom, just at the start of her electrifying ascent and totally seizing the moment, but we had to work in the morning.
On the way out, admittedly a little forlorn, we heard her call out that now it was time to turn up. What had we been doing this whole time? It seems exhausting to be Megan Thee Stallion, Hot Girl Meg, Tina Snow. But it also seems fun. As we left Hottie Ranch, a gaggle of girls in cowboy hats and stilettos and neon bodysuits pushed their way in. Who knows what happened next.