By Michael Arceneaux
Rising Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion always spoke fondly about her mother, Holly Thomas. A former emcee herself, who rapped under the moniker “Holly-Wood,” Thomas ultimately started managing her daughter’s music career — which began first with the release of numerous freestyles and evolved to mixtapes like 2017’s Make It Hot and 2018’s Tina Snow.
“My mom is the first female rapper I’ve ever known,” the 24-year-old Texas Southern University student explained to Vulture’s Hunter Harris in a recently-published profile. “I’m thinking, like, ‘Okay, yeah, this is normal. Everybody’s doing this.’” She was so inspired that when she would accompany Holly-Wood to the studio, instead of doing “little kid stuff” like coloring and watching television, she kept her ear to the door, studying her mom’s technique. As Megan recalled there and in a separate interview with XXL, her mom was always encouraging her creativity as a child — be it drawings or the comic books she would work on herself — but it was Holly-Wood’s music, along with other acts of that era like Biggie and UGK, that captivated her most.
For those of us that have been following Megan’s career, we have long known just how impactful Ms. Holly has been to her daughter, and how together, they delivered the most successful launch for a solo Southern female rap artist in well over a decade. If you are native of Houston, as I am, you know that for all the talent that pours out of Houston, we have never seen a woman from Houston who primarily raps attain this level of national attention.
When I look at Megan, I see home. Among others, I can hear the Pimp C, Tela, and Eightball & MJG in her. Her drawl warms my heart in ways that are difficult to describe to someone not from me and Beyoncé’s hometown. Everything about her — how she performs, how she acts in interviews, or how she even speaks with fans online — screams Houston, Texas.
But even if you aren’t from the greatest city in Texas, there is a reason why so many folks have such a strong affinity for Megan. Along with her immense talent and promise, she’s kind. You simply want to root for someone like that.
That’s why it was so hard to learn that, on the same day the Megan was releasing her newest single, her mother had suddenly passed away. In her Vulture profile, Megan did acknowledge that Thomas was “sick right now,” but as the story notes, Thomas died literally the day after Megan’s interview took place. Ms. Holly suffered from a brain tumor, and while many of us have learned how cruel life can be at times, the news of her death hit especially hard.
However, Megan has kept going.
She is still a student at Texas Southern — a juggling act all its own — but the 300 Entertainment signee has, too, continued rapping. Her single, “Big Ole Freak,” has made the Billboard 100 and is steadily climbing in airplay. She is still performing, and yes, doing press.
To many of us, this is admirable. Others, however, have taken issue with Megan’s perseverance, or at the very least, questioned how she could continue entertaining despite losing her mom. After Megan’s recent performance at Howard University, one person tweeted, “I’m so happy for Megan but I just don’t understand like.... her mom died and idk why she’s acting like she didn’t.”
Megan responded directly, tweeting in response: “Just bc I’m not crying on social media doesn’t mean I’m not hurt. My mother was a very strong woman and she raised a strong woman. Godbless.”
"I want to show people that you can still hold your head high even when times get tough,” she added. “Pain does not last forever."
I have a strong love for Southern-flavored gentility, but even I couldn’t be this gracious.
When I initially read this exchange, I had hoped it would be a one-off, that no one else could be insensitive enough to express such feelings publicly. However, I’ve been on the Internet way too long to not know better. Others, whether on Twitter or message boards, have opened similar lines of questioning.
If you have done this, do the world a solid by destroying your SIM card and disconnecting from the Internet from the foreseeable future. The worst thing happened to Megan at the worst possible time, but she, like many people, is pressing on.
It’s fine to hope she is being loved on and resting. It’s cool to send words of encouragement in her time of need. What isn’t fair, however, is to put yourself in a position you aren’t in and dictate how someone chooses to deal with their plight. There is no right or wrong way to mourn a loss.
We are all doing the best we can. In Megan’s case, not only is she keeping her dream alive, she is now continuing to build the future she forged with her mother. No one should question that; we should simply just mind our business and cheer the H-Town Hottie on.