Megan's Rule: Being exceptional doesn't make you the exception
RODNEY CARMICHAEL, HOST:
A warning before we begin - this podcast is explicit in every way.
Test, test, one, two. Yeah, that sounds good. OK. Cool. Cool. All right. All right. Start by giving me your name.
VALENTINO MCCOY: My name is Valentino McCoy, but you can find me on all platforms at @cousintino.
CARMICHAEL: So how many days have you been here at the trial?
MCCOY: Ooh-wee (ph), I've been here about five days. Five days?
MCCOY: Yeah, yeah, five days.
CARMICHAEL: What was today like for you?
SIDNEY MADDEN, HOST:
Lining up for five days is the type of commitment people usually only put in for exclusive sneaker drops. But in December of 2022, Cousin Tino was waiting daily to get into an LA courtroom.
MCCOY: I saw this case happen, and I was like, I can't see a Black man get railroaded. I knew what would happen from the jump. You could tell...
CARMICHAEL: Inside the LA County Superior Courthouse, Tory Lanez was standing trial for assault with a deadly weapon. And in the courtroom on the 15th floor, Judge Hereford and the bailiffs - they enforced strict silence.
MADDEN: Outside was a different story, though.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: He was yelling out...
CESAR MCDOWELL: Not guilty. Not guilty. He's a real spiritual dude, man. He has God with him. And the truth will come out, and he'll be not guilty. If she's lying about being in an affair with him, if she's lying about different things, then, obviously, what else would she lie about?
MCCOY: As soon as they found out that he shot - allegedly shot Megan - allegedly - let me get that clear, allegedly - then he lost everything.
JAZMYN: Hell no, this ain't no #MeToo case. And this ain't no attack on Black women either. It's like protect Black women - protect both parties. Protect Black men, too.
MADDEN: What do you think the verdict is going to be? One at a time.
CARMICHAEL: Oh, s***, I don't know.
MCCOY: (Singing) That brother is innocent, innocent...
MADDEN: We got a theme song.
MCCOY: ...(Singing) Innocent. Well, hey, Tory Lanez is innocent.
CARMICHAEL: Now, Sid, you know we spent an entire season covering cases just like this - cases that expose how the justice system criminalizes rappers, paints them as hyperviolent, oversexed, dangerous.
MADDEN: Yeah, but this case was more complicated because what Tory was standing trial for was the assault of a fellow rapper - a woman - Megan Thee Stallion.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUNNING UP FREESTYLE")
MEGAN THEE STALLION: Real hot girl s***.
LIZZO: H-Town, baby - Megan Thee Stallion.
MEGAN THEE STALLION: I'm always like, you know what? What would be Beyonce do, but let me make it a little ratchet (laughter).
(Rapping) OK, running up them bands, trying to ball till I fall. Running from his b****, he gon (ph) come when I call. If it ain't about money, then you know I ain't involved. Worry about these motherf***ing haters? Not at all. Nine times out of 10, I'm the realest b**** you know. If you ain't want a pimp, then what you f***ing with me for?
CARMICHAEL: Some of Meg's fans showed up during the trial, too.
TIFFANY: I'm feeling very emotional right now. I'm just wishing the best for Megan, and I love her so much.
DEANNA: We just wanted to be here to show moral support to Megan and to any other woman that has been harmed, and if you do speak up, that there's a community of women and gender-expansive folks who believe you, that love you, that care for you and that are here for you.
CARMICHAEL: These two sides represent a divide in hip-hop - one that had been going on for two years on the internet - pretty much since Meg told the world Tory shot her.
(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Not really sounding like a victim to me - she's a strong Black woman.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: To see, like, so many not just Black men, but Black women, too, be itching - just itching - like, the inherent desire is to vilify this Black woman.
JOE BUDDEN: I don't like that girl. You told Gayle King you didn't f*** him. We all know you f***** him.
DRAYA MICHELE: I'm here for it. I like that. I want you to like me so much you shoot me in the foot, too, like...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Who shot you? Can we prove that he shot you?
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MADDEN: This case, how fans saw it, how the media covered it - these are symptoms of a larger issue. Tory Lanez might have been the one on trial. But for everyone watching, so was Megan. She spoke out, and she was punished.
CARMICHAEL: And it's time to talk about that - like, for real.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MADDEN: I'm Sidney Madden.
CARMICHAEL: I'm Rodney Carmichael.
MADDEN: And from NPR Music, this is LOUDER THAN A RIOT...
CARMICHAEL: Where we trace the collision of rhyme and punishment.
MADDEN: But this time, rhyme and punishment has taken on a whole new meaning.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
CARMICHAEL: Season 1 looked at the way hip hop-is marginalized in America. But for Season 2, we're looking at who gets marginalized within hip-hop.
MADDEN: Mmm hmm - and digging into how the double standard became the standard. On this episode, we report from the Tory Lanez trial - not to give a play-by-play of evidence or witness testimony, but to read between the lines - and the lies - for something more insidious going on in the culture.
CARMICHAEL: And to interrogate who hip-hop chooses to believe and ultimately protect.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GABBY BULGARELLI, BYLINE: It is about 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 13. It is the second day of the Daystar Peterson - aka Tory Lanez - trial.
CARMICHAEL: Me and Sid - along with LOUDER's senior producer, Gabby Bulgarelli - we took shifts covering the trial on the ground. Now, Gabby was up first, and - I ain't gonna lie - we weren't 100% sure what we were sending her into.
MADDEN: This case had been pushed back for so long. And with every delay, it fueled even more speculation, rumors and hate towards Megan.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Hey Megan.
MADDEN: So when the day of Megan's testimony finally came, it felt surreal. It was actually starting.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: How are you feeling, Megan?
BULGARELLI: Oh, my God.
MADDEN: Around 10 a.m., Megan walked into the courthouse, and the paparazzi swarmed her.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: Stay strong, Megan.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8: Meg, how do you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #9: Megan, how do you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #10: Megan, what are you going to...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #11: Tell the truth, girl.
BULGARELLI: OK, Megan's inside. I'm going inside.
CARMICHAEL: There was no audio recording allowed in the courtroom, but Gabby was there taking notes. She called us up after the recap, and when she called, she said it was one of the most memorable days of her life.
BULGARELLI: All right, I'm going to start from the beginning.
BULGARELLI: People call Megan Pete. And as they open the door, you hear shouts. We love you, Meg. We love you. We stand with you from the hallway. She shoots a look at Tory. Her makeup is snatched, I wrote. She walks up onto the floor. They swear her in.
MADDEN: Can you talk more about how she shot Tory a look?
BULGARELLI: It was, like, quick daggers really quickly. Like, I see you. I don't like that I see you, but I see you, and I'm going this way.
CARMICHAEL: The day started with LA's deputy district attorney, Kathy Ta, asking Megan questions on the stand.
BULGARELLI: She says, do you know Daystar - who Daystar Peterson is? She says, yes. She starts crying. She says, do you know him by any other name? She's, like, saying in between tears Tory Lanez. And then she reminds her, if at any point you need a break, just please let me know. Ta asks, how do you know him? She says, we used to be friends. Then the judge has her pause, and Ta comes closer and readjusts the mic because the way that Megan is crying and her voice is breaking up, it's harder to hear her. She says, we got really close. We used to drink and party together. Honestly, when my mom died, I was looking for people to fill a void of a family I was trying to create. I trusted him, and we spoke about that kind of stuff.
MADDEN: As the prosecutor in the case, Ta's approach with Megan was gentle. But then it was time for Tory's defense to question her.
BULGARELLI: 1:50 p.m. cross-examination begins.
MADDEN: His attorney, George Mgdesyan, approached the podium.
BULGARELLI: So it starts off rocky. He says, good afternoon, Miss Pete. Megan doesn't respond. He says good afternoon, Miss Pete again. Then she says good afternoon. He goes on to...
MADDEN: There's already, like - already tension there.
BULGARELLI: She was already like, I'm not about to answer this n****.
MADDEN: Mgdesyan is a tall, stocky, hair-slicked-back, three-piece-suit type, and he came at Megan ready to throw his weight around and throw some of the deepest-held prejudices about Black women back in her face.
CARMICHAEL: Yeah. Right away it became clear that this dude was going to play up the exact way the internet had been vilifying her for the last two years.
BULGARELLI: Did you do an Instagram live? She says, yes, with my green hair. He says yes. He says, in 2020? She says, not sure. Only a few months after the incident? She says, yes. There was a lot of intense scribbling, people shuffling. I heard a whisper behind me of like, oh, my God, like, they're talking about Instagram.
CARMICHAEL: Mgdesyan is talking about an IG live that Meg did sometime after the shooting. In front of 80,000 viewers, this was the first time that Meg publicly said that Tory shot her.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MEGAN THEE STALLION: It ain't like a, oh, let me go run and tell my business to the motherf***ing internet. Let me go run and tell my business to the police. Like, you know what I'm saying? I ain't never been that type of person, like. But I'm not finna let y'all keep playing in my face, and I'm not finna let this n**** keep playing in my face either. So since y'all hoes so worried about it, yes, this n**** Tory shot me. You shot me.
MADDEN: But there's one part of this IG live that Mgdesyan really focuses in on.
BULGARELLI: He says, remember what you talk about? She says, not entirely. He says, so you don't recall saying you're a real thug b****, that you're a motherf***ing south-sider. And I'm, like, not even trying to dramatize this. This is how he's saying it. He's like, did you say you were a real thug b****? - really loudly and really aggressively reading a transcript of her live...
BULGARELLI: ...That the reason that this thug b**** didn't tell the police is 'cause it's none of their business that this n**** shot you, that this n**** Tory shot you.
CARMICHAEL: All right, now, first off, you got to know that Mgdesyan is not Black.
MADDEN: So, like, this non-Black person...
BULGARELLI: Yes, is just straight up - it's not hard R, but he's saying n****...
BULGARELLI: ...With a fervor.
MADDEN: To her face, and he thinks he has, like, the poetic license 'cause he's quoting her or something.
And second, that's not even what Megan said.
CARMICHAEL: Or how she said it.
MADDEN: Right. What she actually said was...
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MEGAN THEE STALLION: I'm really a real bitch. Like, I'm from Houston. I'm from the motherfucking south side.
MADDEN: In the video, she's real calm, too, real clear-headed, definitely not aggressive like how Mgdesyan is trying to make out.
CARMICHAEL: Yeah. And in court she wasn't pressed either.
MADDEN: And what was, like, her face like when he's doing this?
BULGARELLI: She is just staring at him like Wednesday Addams, barely blinking type, just staring, like, dagger into his face. And then this is the part where everyone in the courtroom breaks.
BULGARELLI: Megan says, sorry, can you say that one more time? He says, what? She says, no, say that whole thing one more time. And everyone starts giggling a little bit. Did you say you were a real thug b****? And, like, says it. And she says, probably.
MADDEN: Oh, my God.
BULGARELLI: Everyone laughed at her making him repeat it.
CARMICHAEL: Man, this dude Mgdesyan think he's slick.
MADDEN: Right, like, she deserved it because she's a thug b****. Even if she is, she deserves to be protected from violence.
CARMICHAEL: See, this is how he lays the groundwork for making Meg look like less of a victim.
MADDEN: And then he tries to make her look like a liar, too.
BULGARELLI: He said, Ms. Pete, you testified earlier today that this all happened. This altercation happened during a breakout moment in your career. She says yes. He says now it's safe to say you're one of the biggest artists - right? - biggest artists in the world. She says yes. He says so this actually helped your career, not hindered it. She said, me being shot helped my career? He said, I'm saying that in that time since, your career has been bigger. She says, because I got shot? Is that why? It had nothing to do with the shooting. He says, so when you got shot, with air quotes. She stops him. Why did you do this and gestures air quotes. I was shot.
MADDEN: This is Mgdesyan not only trying to say his client did not harm her; he's trying to cast doubt that Meg was shot at all. That's wild, though, because the trial wasn't even about whether or not she was shot. It was about who shot her.
CARMICHAEL: And we saw all the evidence - the X-rays of her feet with the bullet fragments, the sound of the shots from the neighborhood security camera and the body cam footage of Meg bleeding from her feet.
MADDEN: Hearing and seeing all this evidence was one thing, but watching Meg sit up in court and be retraumatized by it, it made it worse. To be in an official institution like a courthouse and hear how sexism and racism are allowed to be weaponized like this, it was a reminder that misogyny is everywhere, not just in hip-hop.
CARMICHAEL: Long after Meg's testimony wrapped that day, long after our debrief call, Gabby sent us this late-night text that said, what I saw and heard today is really washing over me right now. Definitely going to decompress this weekend.
MADDEN: And after she had that chance to process a little, we jumped in a studio.
BULGARELLI: I was just sitting in bed. I couldn't shut my brain off. I was just lying there, replaying everything that Mgdesyan did.
MADDEN: We didn't really talk about how it felt to be there. So talk to me about that. What kind of misogynistic stereotypes did he try and, you know, feed into for the jury in doing it that way?
BULGARELLI: Definitely strong Black woman trope. I think he was trying to break her and make her look - make her have a moment of weakness. I think he was also trying to feed back into the Megan's lying of it all, like she's trying to frame this Black man. Like, oh, you, like, chose to protect him, but you changed your story, so which one is it? Like, are you riding or dying for him or not?
MADDEN: I also think that, connected to the strong Black woman trope, he was trying to paint a picture of her being a thug bitch - hard, dominating, domineering, someone who feasibly could overpower Tory. So there's no way that...
BULGARELLI: A hundred percent.
MADDEN: ...Tory could be the aggressor in this situation.
BULGARELLI: A hundred percent. And that's his job. His job is to make her look unreliable, to make her look aggressive, to cast reasonable doubt. I fully get that. But I think the manner in which he went about it, ultimately, became pretty terrifying. And I think it felt that way because it didn't feel like there was a line he wouldn't cross to go there, to make her look that way.
CARMICHAEL: Yeah. It was almost like the patriarchy was cross-examining her.
BULGARELLI: A hundred percent. I think - it's weird 'cause it was very deeply terrifying, but it also just felt normal. It was like, oh, you forgot for a second. Like, that's what you get. It was so easy to be terrified and then be like, why - girl, why are you caught up? She's a Black woman, first and foremost, and this is how she will be treated.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MADDEN: How she will be treated.
CARMICHAEL: What was going on in that courtroom? It was more than one overzealous defense attorney. It felt like all the hatred and disrespect for Meg in the entire country was being channeled through that man.
MADDEN: He was saying the quiet part out loud.
CARMICHAEL: And that hatred is targeted towards Black women and people read as Black women because of their race and their gender.
MADDEN: There's a word for that - misogynoir. When we come back, we break down the trial with the woman who coined that term.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MOYA BAILEY: I have loved hip-hop since I was little. And actually, one of my first CDs was Warren G, "Regulators" (ph).
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REGULATE")
WARREN G: (Rapping) It was a clear, black night, a clear, white moon...
BAILEY: It came in the BMG CDs that you got.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REGULATE")
WARREN G: (Rapping) So I can get some funk. Rolling in my ride, chilling all alone.
NATE DOGG: (Singing) Just hit the east side of the LBC on a mission trying to find Mr. Warren G.
CARMICHAEL: Moya Bailey is a lot of things - a professor, an author, the creator of the term misogynoir and a fan of hip-hop.
BAILEY: And at the time, I don't think I had a critical relationship to hip-hop. I was just in it and enjoying the sound and the world that was very different from my own, one that felt familiar, you know, as a Black girl growing up in Arkansas.
MADDEN: It wasn't until Moya got to college at Spelman that she started noticing what the music she loved was really saying to her - and about her - as a Black woman.
BAILEY: Ludacris had a song, (singing) you's a ho.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HO")
LUDACRIS: (Singing) You's a ho. You's a ho. You's a ho.
BAILEY: And that was very much something that was dominating our party spaces. And initially I think people felt very empowered - like, you's a ho, not me.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HO")
LUDACRIS: (Rapping) You doing ho activities with ho tendencies. Hos are your friends. Hos are your enemies. With ho energy to do what you do...
CARMICHAEL: That Luda joint - it raised hella (ph) red flags for Moya. She started to hear a pattern.
BAILEY: So that was the initial way that people were taking it up, but having a critical moment in that time and being like, wait a second - you know? - like, this is not equal.
CARMICHAEL: Then later, when she found out Nelly was planning to visit her campus for a fundraiser, she saw an opportunity to start a conversation.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Nelly's sister, Jackie Donahue, has leukemia. She desperately needs a bone marrow match and transplant to survive.
NELLY: The biggest thing I have right now is the publicity aspect of it, so we're trying to use as much of it as we can possibly get.
BAILEY: We started a very small pushback to say, hey, you want to come and get Spelman students to register to donate bone marrow, but we have some concerns about your lyrics and your representation.
CARMICHAEL: She didn't like how women were being treated as sexual props in the video for his song, "Tip Drill."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIP DRILL")
NELLY: (Rapping) It must be your a** 'cause it ain't your face. I need a tip drill. I need a tip drill. I said if you see a tip drill, point her out.
MADDEN: The video is something else. I think we all remember the credit card swipe on the BET uncut version.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIP DRILL")
NELLY: (Rapping) Where she at? Point her out. Where she at? Point her out. There she go.
MADDEN: Moya wrote an open letter, asking Nelly to have a sit-down. And instead, he pulled out of the drive altogether, and the whole thing just blew up.
BAILEY: I really was confused as to why a few students who had some questions about a rapper's lyrics created such a media firestorm, and we got death threats. And, you know, this is also before email was so easily available to people, so we were getting letters that were death threats. So it was a very challenging time. And it was - that level of vitriol directed at us as young college students just because we dared to ask questions felt really telling.
MADDEN: From "You's A Ho" (ph) to "Tip Drill," she kept feeling a hatred coming from something she loved, but she didn't have the language to describe it. The term she finally landed on was misogynoir, a mashup of misogyny and noir, the French word for black and a nod to film noir.
CARMICHAEL: Moya coined the word almost 15 years ago - 15 years before the Tory Lanez trial.
BAILEY: I so appreciate you saying Tory Lanez trial 'cause so many times people have talked to me about it and they said Meg's trial. And that shift is subtle. But to me, that's a manifestation of misogynoir. This is - people are thinking that this is about whether Megan is telling the truth. And the fact that she had to prove that she was, in fact, being honest about what happened to her - that is a manifestation of misogynoir.
CARMICHAEL: Were you shocked to see the way it was spinning out in terms of the misogynoir manifesting in the way that it did, or was it just like, yeah, I predicted this - I saw this coming?
BAILEY: I have to say, I was a little surprised. I was a little surprised because Meg is a rapper first. You know, like, you cannot deny her skill. And normally, there's an assumption that, you know, skill is what matters. Skill is the thing. But it's very clear that skill is not enough when these narratives are part of how Black women are viewed generally.
MADDEN: This trial exposed cracks in the culture that actually go beyond hip-hop.
BAILEY: There are these tensions that are running deep and have everything to do with narratives that we've internalized about how Black men are supposed to be men and how Black women are supposed to be women.
MADDEN: Yeah, we saw that tension, too. It wasn't just men. There were a lot of Black women out there caping for Tory, too.
BAILEY: Something that I don't think we've really wrestled with - the way that we can internalize these ideas about Black women, even as Black women - that misogynoir, unfortunately - that it's equal opportunity in terms of who deploys it.
CARMICHAEL: This tension that Moya's talking about - it's real. And it's got everything to do with how Black men have been systematically preyed upon by the carceral state and the desire to keep men and boys out of that system.
BAILEY: I think, for a lot of Black men, there is this sense that any of us is all of us. And that is true for the Black community, I'd say. We do have a loyalty to each other that I think is really powerful. But also, in this case, as the, you know, "Boondocks" clip about R. Kelly shows, you know, not all of us are political prisoners.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE BOONDOCKS")
REGINA KING: (As Huey Freeman) What the hell is wrong with you people? Every famous n***** that gets arrested is not Nelson Mandela. Yes, the government conspires to put a lot of innocent Black men in jail on fallacious charges, but R. Kelly is not one of those men. We all know the n***** can sing. But what happened to standards? What happened to bare minimums?
BAILEY: It can be true at the same time that the criminal justice system is structurally unjust, particularly towards Black men, and Tory Lanez did shoot Megan Thee Stallion. Those two things are not mutually exclusive, and we haven't really had a lot of people saying that loudly.
MADDEN: For some, trying to hold these two truths at the same time can be hard, but Black women do it all the time. That's what Megan did. She tried to protect Tory from the police, even after she was shot by him.
CARMICHAEL: But trying to protect him doesn't change the facts.
MADDEN: Facts like how, in the U.S., Black women are three times more likely to die from a domestic violence incident than any other racial group.
What do you say to people who don't think misogynoir actually exists?
BAILEY: That they are actively ignoring what's happening around them. There's this quote by Toni Cade Bambara that I really love, which is, "what are you pretending not to know?" And so people can pretend not to know that misogynoir exists, but it's a farce. The evidence is there. And at this point, if you're denying misogynoir, then you're just denying reality.
MADDEN: Those people who deny it may exist, but the use of misogynoir as a term exploded during the trial. It climbed 80% in online search engines. Dozens of articles and podcasts and TikToks popped up, all using misogynoir as a framework to break down this mess.
CARMICHAEL: But if anything, the popularity of the term - it only highlighted the problem.
BAILEY: I'd really like to see misogynoir retired someday - as something we don't need to use or only think about in the past because we've done the work to create a world where misogynoir doesn't exist.
MADDEN: But as the trial was drawing to a close, it was clear the day of retiring this word was still a long way off.
We just wrapped Day 7.
CARMICHAEL: Where are we?
MADDEN: We're in the park behind the - behind court. The park that we're always - we always go to, with the pink chairs and everything.
After Meg testified that day in court, a slew of people took the stand. The faces and the facts might have changed from day to day, but the misogynoir stayed ever-present.
CARMICHAEL: Yeah. And by the last day of testimony, we were overwhelmed with how often we could point it out.
OK. So for me, walking into this thing, only being here two days, the real show was outside the courtroom.
MADDEN: It was a reality TV show, I feel like, because there's people who were very pro-Megan, people very pro-Tory and people's opinions have not swayed. They became more entrenched in their opinions.
CARMICHAEL: Walking out of court that day - the day before deliberations were supposed to start - I don't know about you, Sid, but I felt tired.
MADDEN: Yeah. I mean, listening to some really hard testimony and evidence - that was a lot. But the atmosphere outside was a whole nother level of exhausting.
CARMICHAEL: In total, the trial only took two weeks. But in that time, some of the loudest names in hip-hop were making misogynistic content out of it and monetizing it. DJ Akademiks hosted watch parties on Twitch; 50 Cent posted memes making fun of Meg; and Joe Budden - he talked mad trash on his podcast.
MADDEN: As we sat out there in the cold, trying to wrap our heads around just how big this moment felt and what the verdict was going to be, the outcome of the case seemed only like a small part of what was really going on.
CARMICHAEL: In some ways, it kind of reaffirms things that we've already known about - you know, the culture and the world and all of that.
MADDEN: It's, like, reaffirmed it, but it's also amplified it to a point where people's threshold is higher - you know what I'm saying? Like, you know how we have a threshold for pain, a threshold for violence?
MADDEN: I think this whole case and everything that has, you know, come off of it - all the ripple effects and all the debate and disagreement and da da da (ph) - like, it's raised people's threshold for...
CARMICHAEL: Just all the bulls***.
MADDEN: All the bulls***, all the misogynoir...
MADDEN: ...All the inhumanity. I don't know. I just feel super discouraged by that.
CARMICHAEL: Yeah, it's funny. I mean, this just feels like it's kind of put a slightly different spin on the season. I mean, the need for the season that, you know, we set out with is obviously still as clear as ever, and this trial reaffirms that. But I think there was a bit of a hope or expectation that things might be changing for the better a little bit and that...
MADDEN: I know. It did feel like there was, like - I mean, how they want to, you know - I guess we could call it propaganda, like, the renaissance of women in rap. Like, this new dawn of so many rap girlies pushing narratives that are very affirming - it did feel like there was a new tidal wave and a new energy and surge of that. But coming from this case, it's like, it don't feel like it.
CARMICHAEL: No. It feels like all that kind of - I think this is a reality check. I'm going to turn this thing off. It's getting cold, and we should get out of here and figure out...
MADDEN: What are we going to do? Let's go somewhere.
Three days after we turned off our recorder, Tory's verdict came back guilty on all counts.
CARMICHAEL: And when I first heard the verdict, man, I was surprised. It almost felt like we could exhale for a second. I mean, Black folks - we never look at the justice system for justice, right? This system was designed to dehumanize us. But in this case, it was actually the only thing that ended up protecting Meg.
MADDEN: Immediately afterwards, the gossip bloggers went real quiet, and some of the heavy hitters who clowned Meg in the past even apologized.
CARMICHAEL: But we knew it was cap 'cause let's be honest. Has anything changed?
MADDEN: Has the culture become any less toxic?
CARMICHAEL: The outcome from the courtroom had zero consequence on the culture. And listen, we've talked a lot about the culture in this episode, right? I mean, it's a word that's become a metaphor for hip-hop or for young Black America, whatever. But the truth is, the culture - it doesn't refer to all of us. The culture damn sure doesn't love all of us. Sometimes the culture doesn't even have love for itself. And you know what? The culture's got a lot of answering to do. I mean, honestly, it's a real conversation we've been needing to have for damn near 50 years.
MADDEN: And we love hip-hop. We've pretty much dedicated our careers to covering it. And we're part of the culture, so on this season of LOUDER, we're going to have that conversation.
This season is about Meg, but not really. It's a season about every person in this industry who has felt misogynoir come for them - those who have been brushed aside, told to change or just shut up, those who haven't been believed or have been held back by all the unspoken rules of rap.
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MADDEN: This episode is about rule No. 1. We're calling it Megan's Rule - being exceptional does not make you the exception.
CARMICHAEL: And over the next nine episodes, we're unpacking the remaining rules one by one.
MASANI MUSA: In a perfect world, Black women would get celebrated for their contributions just as much as Black men. But they don't.
TRICK DADDY: I don't think I'm misogynistic. I think I'm realistic. People are not appreciating me.
TARANA BURKE: This is not a conversation about condemning the men. This is a conversation about condemning the culture.
CARMICHAEL: And we're telling the stories of the rule-breakers who refuse to play nice.
KIM OSORIO: She said, girl, they will tear you down by the pussy hairs in this business.
TRINA: It's my narrative. I'm going to control it. You did not make me. I did.
MADDEN: Do you think hip-hop respects Black women, protects Black women?
RICO NASTY: How about we ask hip-hop that question?
ILOVEMAKONNEN: They kind of taught me, like, no, that's gay. You can't do that.
MADDEN: ...And celebrating how the new generation running rap got here.
SAUCY SANTANA: People was like, first of all, can we sell him? He's feminine. He's dark-skinned. He's thick. He's gay. He's loud.
DOECHII: I feel like I kind of represent an archetype of the Black bitch, and I have become her.
BABY TATE: No offense to the men, but when I'm listening, comparing the two, like, the girls are just outdoing the men. Y'all got to catch up.
MADDEN: On the next episode of LOUDER THAN A RIOT, we're telling the story of one of hip-hop's pioneers, even if history refuses to remember her that way.
SHA-ROCK: The misconception is that it was a male-dominated field and the females, you know, just came on the scene later. No, the males didn't dominate anything. We were always there.
MADDEN: That's Sha-Rock, the first female MC, next time on LOUDER THAN A RIOT.
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CARMICHAEL: LOUDER THAN A RIOT is hosted by me, Rodney Carmichael, and Sidney Madden. This episode was written by myself, Sidney and Gabby Bulgarelli. It was produced by Gabby Bulgarelli.
MADDEN: Our senior producer is Gabby Bulgarelli.
CARMICHAEL: Our producers are Sam J. Leeds and Mano Sundaresan. Our editor is Soraya Shockley with additional editing by Sam J. Leeds. And our engineer is Gilly Moon. Our senior supervising producer is Cher Vincent. Our interns are Jose Sandoval, Teresa Xie and Pilar Galvan.
MADDEN: And the NPR execs are Keith Jenkins, Yolanda Sangweni and Anya Grundmann.
CARMICHAEL: Original theme by Kassa Overall, remix by Suzi Analogue, and the scoring for this episode was provided by Suzi Analogue, Kassa Overall and Ramtin Arablouei.
MADDEN: Our digital editor is Jacob Ganz. Our fact-checker is Jane Gilvin. If you liked this episode and you want to talk back, hit us up on Twitter. We're @LouderThanARiot. And if you want to email us, it's email@example.com. From NPR Music, I'm Sidney Madden.
CARMICHAEL: And I'm Rodney Carmichael. And this is LOUDER THAN A RIOT.
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