Megan Thee Stallion's Incredible Year Leading Up to Her Best New Artist Grammy Win
This year's winner for best new artist at the Grammys — whose nominees are considered from Sept. 1, 2019 through Aug. 31, 2020 — has had a year filled with chart-topping hits, viral dances, devastating tragedies and inspiring triumphs
Thee H-Town Hottie Heats Up the Charts
Megan Thee Stallion had everyone screaming "Hot Girl Summer" heading into fall 2019. The unstoppable collaboration with Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign fired up the Billboard charts for 13 weeks and had everyone from Ciara to Jordyn Woods screaming "Hot Girl Summer," all summer long.
Megan released the song in August 2019 and the video has since been viewed more than 47 million times. The viral hit also scored the rapper her first-ever moon man at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards for best power anthem.
Texas Girls Do It Better
By January 2020, Megan had linked up with fellow Houston native Normani to release "Diamonds," the first single off the Birds of Prey soundtrack. The music video follows the two stars beating up bad guys in a twisted funhouse, along with clips from the movie and cameos from the film's star, Margot Robbie.
Can't Stop, Won't Stop
After signing a management deal with Roc Nation in September 2019, the rapper had tried to re-negotiate her contract with former record label 1501 Entertainment when things turned sour and she was told she wasn't allowed to release new music. As a legal battle played out, Megan took matters into her own hands and decided to release her EP Suga in March 2020.
The nine-track EP includes features from Kehlani and Gunna and her next massive hit "Savage." The song grew legs and made its way onto TikTok, where choreographer Keara Wilson created a dance that turned into the viral #SavageChallenge.
Of course Megan had to release her own video of the #SavageChallenge once she saw Keara Wilson's choreography to her song.
“I saw people doing dances on TikTok, and my best friend showed me her phone and was like, ‘Look at this dance.’ I was like, ‘We gotta learn that,’ " she told PEOPLE in April 2020. "When we saw Keke do it, it seemed like she really broke it down. We literally sat in the kitchen for like 20 minutes trying to get this dance down pat.”
The star said that joining the challenge made both the dance and the song go "super crazy," and she was right. The song's popularity continued to skyrocket as celebrities, like Hailey Bieber, Ryan Destiny, Millie Bobby Brown and Jessica Alba, jumped on the trend and posted their own videos.
Cover Girl Status
Despite having to deal with double standards that come with working in a male-dominated industry, Megan made it clear in her Marie Claire April 2020 cover story that she's not going anywhere.
“A man can be as mediocre as he wants to be but still be praised,” Megan told the outlet, adding that she doesn't feel the need to water down her lyrics for critics who claim that they're too raunchy.
“A man can talk about how he’s about to do all of these drugs and then come and shoot your house up. But as soon as I say something about my vagina, it’s the end of the world?” she questioned.
The critics don't faze the rapper and the men in her industry who may see her as a threat will just have to deal with it. She firmly declared, "I'm not going nowhere, so get used to it."
Giving Back to the Community
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the star sprung into action to help out her hometown. Megan made her first donation to a nursing facility in Houston called Park Manor.
“[Park Manor] was one of the first places I wanted to donate to in my city. I just feel like these are all things that are going to take me in the right direction to start opening my own facility,” she told PEOPLE in April 2020.
“It’s in my hometown, so I felt like it was only right. I know a lot of people who are struggling with their grandparents," she continued. "They can’t see their grandparents right now, so I teamed up with Amazon and we gave them these devices where you can video chat with your people.”
“I feel like that was super important because I love my grandma and I can’t even see her right now,” she added. “I just felt like, I know I’m not the only person going through that, so that’s why I wanted to do that.”
The Beyhive & Hotties Unite
As "Savage" dominated both radio and streaming services, Beyoncé, a fellow Houston native, put her vocals on what came to be the "Savage" remix, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was Megan's first No. 1, which made it even sweeter.
Not only did the song take over summer 2020, but it also became another wildly popular dance challenge and all proceeds from the song went to helping COVID relief efforts.
"I’m literally crying 😭 being from HOUSTON MF TEXAS this s— means EVERYTHING to me!!!!" Megan wrote on Instagram. "SAVAGE REMIX FT THE QUEEN @BEYONCE OUT NOW! All the artist proceeds of the song goes to @breadoflifehou to support our city during this pandemic! 🤘🏽🤘🏽🤘🏽 HOTTIES WE UP 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 🐎🐎🐎🐎🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝"
Keeping Spirits High
The star helped celebrate the graduating class of 2020 by performing the new #SavageRemix challenge to uplift the spirits of students everywhere graduating during the unprecedented pandemic.
Part-time Rapper, Full-time Inspiration
While becoming a superstar in music, she was also working hard to earn her bachelor's degree in health administration as a part-time student at Texas Southern University.
“I want to get my degree because I really want my mom to be proud,” Megan told PEOPLE in June 2020 about her mom Holly Thomas, who died in March 2019 after battling brain cancer.
The rapper, whose father died when she was a teenager, also lost her grandmother shortly after her mother died.
“I want my big mama to be proud. She saw me going to school before she passed,” said Megan. “My grandmother that’s still alive used to be a teacher, so she’s on my butt about finishing school. I’m doing it for me, but I’m also doing it for the women in my family who made me who I am today.”
While juggling her career, school and adjusting to life during the pandemic, Megan remained a fierce advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement throughout 2020, joining in on protests against police brutality and systemic racism after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black and brown men and women. She also used her platform to send an important message when she made her Saturday Night Live debut later that fall once she took the stage.
"We need to protect our Black women and love our Black women," she said. "'Cause at the end of the day, we need our Black women. We need to protect our Black men and stand up for our Black men, 'cause at the end of the day, we're tired of seeing hashtags of our Black men."
At the end of her performance, Megan and her dancers held their fists high in the air, staring into the camera as the audience applauded.
Rising from Tragedy
The summer of 2020 marked an incredibly difficult time for the star, who was injured in a shooting that July. Megan got shot in both of her feet and had to undergo surgery for her injuries. The star opened up during an emotional Instagram Live to say that the traumatizing experience was the worst of her life, and that her recovery process had "definitely made me realize how to move forward."
Megan ended her stream by reassuring fans that she was "alive and well, and strong as f—."
"I'm ready to get back to regular programming with my own hot girl s—," she added.
After taking time to heal, the star announced that she had landed her first major beauty campaign as the global brand ambassador of Revlon.
“I’ve always set the bar high for myself with everything I do, but to now be a brand ambassador for Revlon, it feels like a new level,” Megan said in a statement. “To me, the Revlon brand stands for both beauty and female strength and I’m excited to help define what that means to a new generation of women.”
The rapper also recently partnered with Fashion Nova to launch a major philanthropic partnership focused on female empowerment called Women on Top. For the entire month of March, Fashion Nova Cares and Megan will highlight various women, entrepreneurs and organizations who've been pre-selected to receive $25,000 or more — for a total of $1,000,000 — in donations, grants and scholarships. As part of the campaign, Megan announced a $100,000 donation to the Breonna Taylor Foundation.
August 2020 came around and Megan blessed us with yet again another monster hit, this time with Cardi B. The two released "WAP" and earned themselves the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100, marking Megan's second time on top and Cardi B's fourth. The provocative banger also racked up the most first-week streams for a single with 93 million listens, according to Nielsen.
As for the cherry on top to her phenomenal year, the Grammy nominee became the first woman ever to hit No. 1 on the Rap Songwriters chart.
Megan shared her heartfelt reaction on Instagram, writing, "Wow🙏🏾 I used to watch my mom write songs in her bed every day when she got off work so I started doing it too. I know she’s proud 💙"
The star took home Grammys for best rap performance for "Savage" (ft. Beyoncé) and best new artist at the 2021 ceremony, becoming the first female rapper to win best new artist since Lauryn Hill in 1999.