Megan Thee Stallion performed her first virtual live concert on Saturday, August 29, referring to the livestream as her “first day back.” Despite the traumatic year she’s endured, she put on an exceptional show.

Opening with flashing lights, a hard rock beat, and “Megan Thee Stallion” written in fire, the one-hour set—presented by Live Nation and streamed on TIDAL—featured Megan’s top hits and a breathtaking tribute to Black victims of police brutality and racist attacks.

Before the pandemic, Megan’s concerts were known for lots of crowd interaction, including fans twerking on stage and “driving the boat.” Without the presence of an audience on Saturday night, Megan chose to showcase each of her background dancers and frequently encouraged her fans to get up, no matter where they were located, and “shake that ass.” Donning a black glittery bodysuit and platform heels, she ran through her big hits—many of them for the first time—including “WAP,” “Savage,” “Girls in the Hood,” and “Big Ole Freak,” with such a commanding stage presence that you completely forgot she recently underwent surgery on her feet.  

Midway into the show, she honored victims of racial violence with a tribute to Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Aura Rosser, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Elijah McClain, Atatiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Jacob Blake. The moment of silence was announced with a black backdrop that read “THIS SHIT IS EXHAUSTING” and featured each victim’s name with their cause of death, while the sound of gunshots and church bells rang in the background. Dancers stood with their fists raised, in the Black Power sign, until the screen switched to messaging that read: “WHY IS IT SO HARD BEING BLACK IN AMERICA?” 

Megan’s statement about exhaustion and plea about the hardships of being Black in America reaches far beyond her tribute. In addition to fears surrounding the coronavirus, the current political climate, a loss of Black icons like Kobe Bryant, John Lewis, and Chadwick Boesman, Megan herself became a victim of physical abuse with a firearm when she was shot in the foot in mid-July. The Houston native says the gunman was Tory Lanez, and she reported being hospitalized due to gunshot wounds in both feet. Rumors about the situation spread online, causing her to publicly explain the details of the tragedy to a mixed reaction of supportive fans and combative trolls. During an Instagram Live stream, Megan advocated for herself and shut down fabrications of the story, days after posting photos of her injury to prove that she indeed was a victim of physical assault. The entire situation brings more truth to the unspoken fact that Black women are the least unprotected, believed, and supported people in America. 

“Hotties, it’s been a very, very rough 2020 and it’s been a few very rough months for me," she said at the end of the show on Saturday. This year alone, she entered a legal battle with her record label, was constantly subjected to ridicule online, suffered from an attack, accused of lying during the traumatic experience, and was the bait for misogynistic dialogue surrounding her “WAP” collaboration with Cardi B. In the face of adversity, Megan delivered a phenomenal hour-long show at a time when many of us would lay low to heal. It took place just one month after being shot, and it was clear she did it all for her fans. 

Her triumphant performance proves Megan is in this for the long run. With two No. 1 singles, a global brand ambassador contract with Revlon, a collaboration with her idol, a viral dance challenge on TikTok, and now a Best Hip-Hop Video award at the VMAs, Megan has scored many wins during a tough year. She has transformed from one of rap’s most exciting newcomers to full-fledged superstar.

The positive energy that fans have grown to love during Megan’s Instagram Lives and interviews is the same contagious spirit that was present on stage Saturday night. Despite the virtual format of the show, Megan’s stage presence signaled that she has no plans of backing down, even when outside forces try to undermine her abilities. Some fans thought she would use the performance to set things straight about current talk surrounding her shooting, but instead of blatantly acknowledging any of her current issues, Megan carried on unapologetically, setting herself above her adversaries. At once, she is the epitome of a strong Black woman and someone who is more than deserving of love and support. Whether Megan decides to take a momentary break from performing in the near future, or continues to release chart-topping hits, before being an artist, she’s a human. The world should treat her as such.

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