Since its release on June 11, the “Thot S–t” music video has amassed over 11 million views on YouTube, and debuts at No. 16 on this week’s Billboard Hot 100 chart. Both fans and naysayers have weighed in across platforms all the while, reigniting the very commentary surrounding women’s sexual expression that video executive producer Boris Labourguigne and director Aube Perrie say inspired the video itself.
“For me and for many of us, [women’s empowerment] is not something we should be afraid of. It’s something we should be fighting for,” Perrie tells Billboard.
In the video, an aging white male senator searches for Megan’s “Body” video on his work computer, nodding in approval, then going on to comment “stupid regressive whores” before attempting to pleasure himself to the visual. Shortly after, he is plagued by a band of ass-shaking women at every turn — in the street, the grocery store, restaurant and in the end, during an operation, where his mouth is cosmetically warped into the shape of a vagina.
“It’s definitely happening in his head,” says Perrie of the senator’s haunting. “It’s his own anxiety, his own nightmare.”
Perrie adds that the narrative was loosely based on real-life people and events. After the release of “WAP” last August, Republican congressional candidate James P. Bradley tweeted, “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion are what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure.” He went on to say that he saw its video “accidentally.”
Bradley wasn’t alone. A slew of other politicians and critics also chimed in, expressing their disapproval of Megan and Cardi’s song and video. The right-wing criticisms — combined with journalist Jeffrey Toobin’s debacle — are the stories that inspired “Thot S–t.”
Perrie says the controversy surrounding Megan’s past visuals and overall image exemplify male hypocrisy when it comes to the sexual expression of women. “It’s like, ‘I can act this way, I can fantasize this way, but you can’t because you’re a girl, it’s not decent,’” Perrie explains. “We wanted to show that in a funny way.”
The ending of the video is easily its most eyebrow-raising moment — and it almost didn’t happen. Pierre and Labourguigne say there was a different ending planned, but Megan didn’t find it to be strong enough. After the rapper suggested changing the ending, the pair agreed, and came back with a new idea involving the mouth-turned-vagina.
“You need to have a huge trust in the artists you work with [to] even dare to suggest such an ending,” says Perrie. “I knew she would love it, because she has this huge sense of humor and the guts to express a statement. Some [other artists] wouldn’t consider for one second doing a shot like this.”
Throughout the process, both Perrie and Labourguigne say Megan was extremely involved and enthusiastic. “We did a lot of back-and-forth with her, and creative calls with her team,” says Labourguigne. “It took a few weeks to get the full treatment, and to move forward with the production process.”
As for the most memorable moment on set, Labourguigne is quick to recall his choice. “When the main talent arrived with the [vagina] prosthetic on his face,” he says. “The team was between shock and intrigue, like, ‘Wow, we’re really doing that in the music video?’ They were all proud.”
Since the release, both Perrie and Labourguigne have received “kindness and great energy” — different from the intense backlash they were expecting. The pair also emphasized the political and social importance of the video, and the impact they hope it has. Megan is no stranger to speaking out against the mistreatment of women, especially Black women, through both her music and visuals, as well as in statements like her op-ed in The New York Times and social media commentary.
“This is definitely not a classic dance or pop video,” says Perrie. “She’s defending all women, but as a young Black woman, she’s defending the young Black women in the United States.”
Following its release, the track was made the center of a TikTok boycott by Black creatives who are vowing not to make a dance to the song. The purpose of this strike is to prove the vitality of Black creators, who say their dances are often stolen by white TikTokers who fail to give them credit for their choreography and ideas.
While this strike could hurt the mass appeal of “Thot S–t,” its message is in line with the statement Megan is trying to make through the song and video. “What would be amazing would be to see this music video make people listen to [Megan] more,” Perrie says. “Not only her music, but what she has the guts to say.”