Megan Thee Megalodon: How 'HISS' complements her metamorphosis

Three-time Grammy award winner Megan Thee Stallion is an artist with an intuitive understanding of what it means to use the darkness of trauma to rebirth oneself in the light. It's something that she is all too familiar with: at the same time that she was experiencing career milestones, she was also going through legal disputes with her label as well as the death of her parents. In 2020, the underwhelming, currently imprisoned rapper Tory Lanez shot Megan Thee Stallion twice in the foot, leading to yet another lengthy legal dispute as she fought for the liberation of her truth. And yet, Megan has persisted in releasing high quality music, partaking in lengthy photoshoots and consistently self-advertising to increase her publicity within the industry. Once Megan Thee Stallion’s lawsuit with her old label settled and she gained artistic independence, she released the entirely self-funded masterpiece “Cobra,” in which she unveiled her birth last November. Furthering the cobra’s symbolism of resurrection and renewal, Thee Stallion released “HISS” on Jan. 26.

King cobras hiss as a warning to potential prey before striking them with venom — this theme is echoed in “Cobras.” Megan’s short intro consists solely of her voice, demonstrating her emerging vicious vocality regarding her response to artists such as Drake and Nicki Minaj, who consistently disrespected Megan in their own songs. This short section is Megan’s hiss, a warning that precedes her imminent lethal strike on all who spoke ill upon her. She will explain herself to no one — she simply is getting “sh*t off her chest” that she was unable to express during her transformation. During this section in the music video, a human-sized egg in a blacked out room cracks, revealing Megan Thee Stallion’s eye. We see her singular eye shift from side to side, and up and down, as she absorbs her newfound surroundings. Once Thee Stallion concludes her intro with “let’s go,” she places her hand through the egg crack, signaling her emergence. The hiss concludes and the cobra is prepared to strike.

As we enter the first verse, a sample of the “Jaws Theme” introduces the foundation of the instrumental. This familiar theme places the listener in the position of Megan’s prey. This motif is played softly, emphasizing Thee Stallion’s observant and unpredictable nature. We feel her lurking in the murky waters of the beat and anxiously anticipate the sound of her voice. An acoustic shark attack. With a singular key on the piano, the attack is initiated. Vested in a red ensemble reminiscent of shibari (Japanese rope tying), Thee Stallion is the developing embryo within the egg from the introduction. The rope restricts her hands behind her back and connects her to the veins of the amniotic sac, conveying how her own transfiguration limited her expression. The shark theme leads up to the beat drop, where Megan’s disses drop “bodies on bodies on bodies.”

With a complete switch in visual aesthetic, Megan delivers the viral lyric “these hoes don’t be mad at Megan, these hoes mad at Megan’s law.” This beautifully executed bar refers to the federal law that mandates information on sex offenders be public, which sparked a social media meltdown from the self-proclaimed Queen of Rap, Nicki Minaj. On Instagram live, Nicki Minaj claimed that Megan lied about getting shot, despite Nicki being a victim of domestic violence herself. The visual begins with Thee Stallion’s head resting on one hand and the other reaching over and resting on her cheek, with other arms comprising the background. As the camera pans out, a brain made up of the rapper’s body parts is revealed. The embryo — the root of life — to the brain — the hub of intellect and function — is Megan personified. By embodying these vital organs of development, she conveys herself as the new foundation of “real rap” – unique flows and lyrics that contribute to a specific artist’s persona – as opposed to the genericism and recycling of flows/lyrics that currently plagues the industry. Acoustically, a haunting, echoing sound is added to the instrumental, adding a layer of mockery and other-worldly fog to the lyric. It is as if Megan stole the Queen’s crown, and damned her to a purgatory where she must submit to ridiculing entities. Perhaps Minaj’s outrage is not fueled by the line itself, but the realization that Megan Thee Stallion is the female rapper whose penmanship and creativity is genuinely on her level.

Moving on to the interlude, the “Jaws” sample persists. After opening a red door, two versions of the artist appear: one is Megan Thee Stallion, dressed in red, and the other dressed in white and silver chains is Tina Snow , the rapper’s alter ego. As she begins rapping her second verse, it becomes clear that the two versions are merging together. With the reintroduction of the shark motif, there is a series of cinematic cuts between two halves of Megan’s body — one is of her in a jet black wig, black bra and matching shorts, the other is a curly silver wig, long sleeved white shirt, matching pants and a bedazzled chain that travels from her shoulder to her torso. Once the shark theme concludes, the camera pan reveals that these two distinct characters simultaneously exist on the rapper’s singular body. The Tina Snow half consists of a red background (the color associated with Megan), while the Megan Thee Stallion half is a cream white (the color associated with Tina Snow). In a later scene, Megan is dressed in a beautiful black ensemble holding a glass of red liquid, and in the background, Tina Snow raps on a large screen in the background as the “Jaws” theme creeps back into the instrumental. Thee Stallion’s literal body is the bridge between these crossed identities, establishing this rap style as a third generation of herself; the great Megalodon of the industry.

Megan Thee Stallion is one of the few mainstream rappers who sincerely understands artistry. “HISS” is not a creation but a direct portrayal of the human experience. "HISS" is far more than a diss track; Megan demonstrates her firm grasp on the power of transparency, and is a testament to the brutality of self-rediscovery. However, she’s emerged from that battle stronger than ever. Megan serves as a reminder to all of us that we must battle to find ourselves, no matter how lost we get.


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