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‘It’s the way she owns her body’: how Megan Thee Stallion rode to Grammys glory | Megan Thee Stallion

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In 2014, a then-unknown Megan Thee Stallion tweeted: “I need a team [because] I promise this rap shit gone take off for me.”

That promise has been fulfilled in quite spectacular fashion. The 26-year-old, born Megan Jovon Ruth Pete, is now one of the world’s most famous and respected rap stars, with her three Grammy awards at last weekend’s ceremony marking the peak of her career thus far.

As well as winning one of the night’s “big four” awards – becoming the first female rapper this century to win best new artist – she is the first woman to win the best rap song category as lead artist. She shared her award with Beyoncé, who had joined Megan on the remix to Savage, a matter-of-fact statement of multifaceted womanhood. Billie Eilish meanwhile spent much of her winner’s speech trying to give her record of the year award away to Megan, repeatedly telling her: “You deserve this.”

Megan Thee Stallion perform at the American Music Awards in November 2020.
Megan Thee Stallion perform at the American Music Awards in November 2020. Photograph: American Broadcasting Companies,/AFP/Getty Images

That sentiment is shared by a generation of young women who regard Megan as an omnipotent figure. She has earned admiration for her rap flow, weighted with teeth-kissing technical mastery on top of the beat and rooted in the energetic club styles of the American south. Her punchline-rich lyrics are wittily self-confident, humiliating men for their sexual failings and dismissing female rivals as “bitches thinkin’ they the shit when they really toilet water.”

“Her cadence on records is phenomenal,” says Tiffany Calver, presenter of BBC 1Xtra’s Rap Show. “The lyricism and wordplay is amazing, but there’s just something so present about the way she is on a record, which hasn’t really been heard from anyone else, that consistently, in a really long time. She can take also records which have substance, but make them fun, so they can resonate with a larger audience. It’s not something that’s just pop and candyfloss.”

But it’s Megan’s self-styled “hot girl” image as a strutting monarch decreeing that every women is innately glamorous and sexually attractive – including those ignored by a narrow-minded and often racist mainstream – that has synthesised that admiration into adulation.

“You can just tell she’s confident in herself physically, and she’s sexually liberated,” says the British rapper Ms Banks, who has spent time with Megan in the UK. “That’s very relatable – you feel like she’s one of your homegirls. When women are seen to be sexually free [in music], it’s often for a man – in a guy’s video, with a nice car, and a girl next to him shaking her arse. But Megan is doing it for herself, in her own video.”

Megan began her rap career while studying at university in her native Texas, seeing off a crop of male rappers with a freestyle filmed on a Houston rooftop in 2013. She picked a statuesque artist name to match her 5ft 10in frame. “I’m tall as well,” says Ms Banks, “and seeing someone like her own her body the way she does, I never had that growing up. It’s epic.”

Breakthrough tracks like Big Ole Freak and Cocky AF situated her in the horny and uncompromising lineage of Lil Kim and Foxy Brown – as well, of course, as her confident male peers. “You can only rap about peace and Kumbaya and you’re supposed to be such a lady,” Megan complained in a 2018 interview. “I’m not scared to say what I want to do. If the boys can do it, we can do it too.” Calver compares her early years to a boxer in the ring, “just constantly jabbing. Every single time her lyricism was above the bar”.

The “hot girl” line became a meme that underpinned her first US Top 20 hit in 2019, Hot Girl Summer, its credo fleshed out in a tweet by Megan: “Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party etc,” she explained.

The mantra was further defined in Savage, in which Megan described herself as “classy, bougie, ratchet”: a chorus that announced she, and thus all women, could be sophisticated and trashy at the same time. It chipped away at the sexist binary of decorum and debauchery that women are often sorted into. Ms Banks agrees: “She shines a light on the fact that we can be all these things in one.”

It was only a matter of time before she worked with Cardi B, the chart-topping New York rapper whose talent, frankness and sexual appetite match hers. Their track WAP, an ode to vaginal fluid whose male characters are in constant danger of either asphyxiation or drowning, went to No 1 in both the US and UK last August. It caused a level of face-fanning moral panic that recalled Mary Whitehouse, with conservative pundits queueing up to decry this tale of female sexual pleasure.

The outrage continued this week after their performance of the song at the Grammys, with Candace Owens saying the performance heralded “a weakening of American society … the end of an empire”, and Tucker Carlson accusing the pair of “intentionally trying to degrade our culture and hurt our children”.

Ms Banks believes there are double standards at play around this tall, curvaceous Black woman: “You don’t mind a woman wearing a leotard with her arse out if she’s slim, but if she’s got a bit of a bum, now it’s more explicit. Why? And I do feel like there’s a racist undertone.” She says that while sexuality is a major part of Megan’s brand, her dance moves are misinterpreted by white critics. “Back home, all over Africa and the Caribbean, there’s aunties of all ages that wind up their hips and move their waists, and it has nothing to do with sex – it’s a part of the culture. But on a bigger stage, some people are offended by it.”

Megan’s championing of self-confidence, not to mention her philanthropy and advocacy for higher education, is far more valuable than talkshow chatter. She was able to weather a much more serious attack in July 2020 when she was injured by bullet shrapnel in her foot, later accusing Tory Lanez – a rapper with five US Top Five albums – of being the shooter. He was charged with assault and pleaded not guilty, with the case still ongoing.

On Instagram she explained that her fear of police brutality made her reticent to come forward, and then wrote a widely admired piece in the New York Times that discussed how misogyny entwines with racism and is brought to bear on Black women. She has since rapped about the trauma: “At war with myself / in my head, bitch, it’s Baghdad,” runs one lyric from her debut album Good News.

In refusing to be cowed by that incident, Megan showed that her message of robust self-belief wasn’t just about feeling confident in the bedroom or nightclub – it was something to underpin a woman’s life. “It’s the way she owns her body,” Ms Banks reiterates, summing up her appeal. “She’s the captain of her ship.”



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HSE staff should receive bonus for work during pandemic, says Donnelly

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All Health Service Executive (HSE) staff, including those working in administrative roles, should get a financial bonus for the work done during the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

“I want to see something done, yes, I absolutely really do. I think our healthcare teams have been incredible. We are still fighting the fight, but I definitely want to see some form of recognition for the extraordinary work that they have all put in,” he said.

Speaking after a visit to the HSE’s Limerick Covid-19 vaccination centre at Limerick Racecourse, Patrickswell, Mr Donnelly said: “We need to listen to the frustrations that they have.

“We do need to acknowledge that for nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, administrators – for everyone who has worked in the HSE over the last year and a half – that they’ve had an incredibly difficult time.

“I think they represent the very best of us and they have stepped up to the plate,” he said. “When the rest of us were told to stay at home to keep ourselves safe, they went into the hospitals, and into the Limerick hospital to keep other people safe, and we need to recognise that.”

The arrival of the Delta variant has been delayed by the use of some of the “strongest” lockdown measures in the European Union, but foreign travel now is adding to case numbers.

“We are seeing spikes in some parts of the country. There are cases linked to [international] travel, we know that. Most of the cases we are tracking are Irish people going abroad and coming home,” he said.

Advice

Some people travelled without a vaccination, or before their vaccinations had time to work. “They shouldn’t have done that. Some of them have come back and they have contracted Covid, but we will take care of them, we’ll make sure they get the care they need,” he said.

In “certain cases”, people have received a second dose of vaccine within 17 days of their first jab, as opposed to the previous advice of four weeks, and this may happen more generally, he said.

A HSE spokeswoman later said “For operational reasons and due to the pace of the rollout we are in a position to offer the second dose after 17 days in some cases. Second doses within this widow are clinically safe and effective.”

On the vaccination programme, the Minister said: “There aren’t that many people who would have thought just a few months ago that, in July, we would be vaccinating 16-year-olds.”

There will be no immediate change to rules around attendance at funerals, Masses, Confirmations or Communions, while the closure of indoor summer camps is being kept under review.

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Covid-19: More than half of Austrians now fully vaccinated

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With 53,386 vaccinations carried out on Thursday, Austria cross the 50 percent mark for total vaccinations. 

This means that 4,479,543 people are completely vaccinated against Covid-19 in Austria as at Thursday evening, July 29th. 

A further nine percent of the population have received one vaccination, bringing the total percentage of people who have had at least one shot to 58.9 percent or (5.2 million people). 

UPDATED: How can I get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Austria?

The Austrian government has welcomed the news. 

“More than half of the total population is now very well protected against the coronavirus and thus the highly contagious Delta variant thanks to the full immunisation,” Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said on Thursday afternoon. 

Burgenland has the highest percentage of vaccinated people with 66.1 percent, followed by Carinthia (55.7 percent) and Salzburg (55.2 percent). 

The lowest percentage is in Upper Austria, where 54.9 percent of the population is vaccinated. 

Kleinmürbisch in the Güssing district has the highest percentage of vaccinated people in Austria, with just under 80 percent of people vaccinated. 

The village however only has 230 residents. 

“But we are still a long way from reaching our destination,” warned the minister. 

Around one quarter of the Austrian population has indicated a reluctance to be vaccinated, with around 15 percent saying they will refuse the vaccination. 



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6 Amusing Historic Stereotypes of Major Russian Cities

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About the authorFor lovers of Russian culture, folklore, and history, Kotar’s work is a treasure. The grandson of White Russian immigrants, the 34-year-old is an author of epic fantasy novels inspired by Russian fairy tales. You can see his four books here on Amazon.

He is also a deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church, a professional translator, and choir director at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, where he lives. Here is his bio from his blog, where he writes about many aspects of Russia. We highly recommend following it and subscribing to his email list to get exclusive material.

He has an excellent Pinterest page, and you can follow him on Facebook. Here is an archive of his work published on Russia Insider.

He is currently running a remarkably successful crowdfunding on Kickstarter to be able to publish his upcoming novels. Please support him if you can!


Stereotypes are a funny thing. On the one hand, they’re often no more than caricatures. On the other hand, there’s a surprising amount of bitter truth to some of them. Like the Russians say with their morbid humor, “In every joke, there’s a bit of a joke.”

This is especially interesting when we consider old Rus. We don’t have much to go on, historically speaking, other than chronicles, treaties, and a few bits of birch bark.

However, Russians have preserved some interesting stereotypes about the inhabitants of old Russian cities. Whether there’s any truth to them or not is almost beside the point. They’re fascinating, revealing a window to a world long gone, yet still persisting in the habits and personalities of today’s Russians. (Here’s the original Russian article that I translated)

EVERYONE IN GREAT NOVGOROD IS A REBEL

Novgorod’s rebelliousness is legendary. The image of a brawling Novgorodian is almost a calling card of the city. The reason this stereotype came about has to do with the old chronicles. They were filled with illustrations of the constant arguments at the Novgorodian Veche, a kind of popular assembly that met in the central square. (See my translation of “Martha the Mayoress” for a vivid fictionalized example).

Of course, there were arguments and even fights during the Veche. However, they did not constantly devolve into fist-fights, as the legends suggest. Naturally, the chroniclers would choose the most vivid and bloody examples from history to illustrate their point. After all, Novgorod was often an opponent of Kiev and, later, Moscow. But in actual fact, the inhabitants of Great Novgorod were fiercely loyal to their government and loved their city. Compromise was the order of the day, not broken heads. Plus, they were more than usually literate.

EVERYONE IN PSKOV IS A THIEF OR A MORON

Even in modern times, Pskovians have had to endure countless jokes about their crudeness, stupidity, and their lack of good manners. This may or may not be true. As for their lack of manners, that is entirely a matter of hats. The inhabitants of Pskov, no matter what their social standing, hardly ever doffed their cap before anyone (which is extremely bad form in old Rus). However, this wasn’t crudity or bad breeding.

It used to be that a hat symbolized one’s personal dignity. In Pskov in particular, to actually take off your hat meant to be shamed. It may be a bastardization of the more generally accepted rule that if someone else took your hat off your headthat was a terrible insult.

EVERYONE IN NIZHNI NOVGOROD IS A DRUNKARD

The painful topic of Russian alcoholism became especially relevant in Nizhni Novgorod at the end of the 17th century. A kind of epidemic of alcoholism rose up, and it was normal to see women as well as men lying in the streets in a drunken stupor. Foreign travelers recounted after their visits to Nizhni Novgorod that “Russians don’t do anything but feast.”

Of course, they did more than feast. But on holidays, Russians have always allowed themselves some excesses. It’s not entirely fair to single out Nizhni Novgorod, when alcoholism still is the gravest problem facing Russia today, as in olden times.

EVERYONE IN VLADIMIR IS A CRIMINAL

This stereotype appeared very early. It’s easy to understand. Vladimir itself had five prisons, including the famous “Vladimir Central Prison.” From the beginning, Vladimirians have been considered con artists who like a dangerous life. It didn’t help that the path to Siberia for exiled convicts went through Vladimir. It was even called the “Vladimirka.”

Exiled convicts stopped in Vladimir to have half their heads shaved (a scene vividly recounted in the excellent Russian film The Siberian Barber). Then they’d be branded as exiles or thieves, clapped in irons, and set upon the road to Siberia. In old times, the path could take as long as two years, and those two years were not counted as part of their allotted time.

Vladimir itself, for all that, was a typical enough provincial town.

EVERYONE IN ROSTOV IS AN ARTISAN

When a Russian hears the word “finift’” (enameling), he immediately thinks of Rostov. Nothing could change the old stereotype that every inhabitant of ancient Rostov worked in the enameling guild. That’s complete nonsense, of course. First of all, the best enamellists in old Rus were as a rule in Kiev, the capital city. There were also some famous artisans in Pskov, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, and Great Novgorod.

The only difference is that Rostov alone has preserved the traditional techniques of enameling since ancient times. Even today, there is a factory producing enameled work. Perhaps for this reason alone, tourists still visit Rostov exclusively to see enameled boxes.

THE INDUSTRIOUS YARSOLAVIAN

The industrious muzhik from Yaroslavl is an image that we even find in Gogol. From the times of Rus, Yaroslavians were known as people who were never apathetic, lazy, or prone to tiredness. Instead, they’re known to be active to a manic degree. This may have something to do with the odd tradition that Yaroslav is a city of buried treasure.

Apparently, wherever you turn, you see someone uncovering a jewelry box or trying to break into an ancient chest of drawers. Perhaps a little more seriously, Yaroslavians have long been known as “chicks of the cuckoo.” In other words, they’re more than usually capable of leaving their homeland without much regret. This quality has a clear historical origin.

Yaroslav was built on the crossroads of ancient roads—a path used by merchants from Scandinavia all the way to the Arab lands. From the middle of the 16th century, Yarsolavl became the most important center for trade in all of Rus. This constant movement often inspired young Yaroslavians to try out their luck in foreign lands.

True or not, such stereotypes make for fascinating stories. For myself, the “myth” of the boisterous Novgorodian comes to life in my third novel, The Heart of the World, in a semi-fictionalized setting of the Veche that goes fabulously wrong for all concerned.


Source: Nicholas Kotar

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