Over the past three months, you couldn’t scroll Instagram or Twitter without experiencing the flood of confident declarations about it being a Hot Girl Summer. Coined by Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion around the release of her acclaimed Fever mixtape in May, the phrase has gone from a fun motto shared by her friends and fans — dubbed the “Hotties” — to something that brands are trying to capitalize on and publications are writing explainers for.
It's become such a ubiquitous term that Megan recently filed to trademark the catchphrase, after Wendy's, Forever 21 and Maybelline attempted to hop on the wave and flip it for their marketing benefit. She even had to tweet an explanation of what it truly means, as the corporate infiltration watered down the message she was conveying: "Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party etc.” Now that the rapper has reclaimed her brand, she decided to seal the deal with an official anthem: “Hot Girl Summer.”
Released Friday (Aug. 9), the single features rap veteran Nicki Minaj and reliable R&B hook master Ty Dolla $ign. Megan first teased the thought of a hot girl song with a tweet on July 18: “I feel like it’s only right I drop a hot girl summer song before the summer is over.” She then proceeded to tease a few lines on Instagram and hopped on Instagram Live on July 28 with none other than Minaj — an obvious wink that the two ladies had something in the works. “Hot Girl Summer” was originally supposed to arrive on Aug. 2 but was delayed, giving way to even more speculation. Now that it’s finally here, does it live up to the carefree Hot Girl Summer that we’ve been enjoying?
Not necessarily. After a long journey filled with endless memes, twerking at gas stations and to the sweet melodies of Lizzo’s flute, and “driving the boat” (aka taking shots straight from the bottle) with the likes of Kehlani, SZA and Wale, “Hot Girl Summer” isn’t juicy enough of a cherry to top off this explosive season.
“Hot Girl Summer” is slightly formulaic, kicking off with a sample from another inescapable hot girl tune — City Girls’ “Act Up” — before diving into a male-dominated chorus. Hot Girl Summer has mainly been a space for women to be their true selves, so it’s a bit odd that Ty Dolla $ign does that heavy lifting, especially crooning male-specific lines like “Real ass n—a, give a fuck 'bout a bitch/ It is what it is, this some five star dick.” While he sonically sounds palatable (seriously, has $ign ever not crushed a hook?), his laidback flow is out of place, setting an odd tone for a banger. Someone like Jhene Aiko, SZA or even Solange (who’s also a big fan of Megan) could’ve been used instead to add more punch to a chorus that’s meant to be sung by the ladies.
As the song plays out, it becomes more anti-climactic and less of the fiery rush that we’ve come to adore from Megan. The production (courtesy of The Bone Collector, Crazy Mike and “Simon Says” collaborator Juicy J) floats above the lyrics too lightly instead of stomping the pavement as sharp as the heels she stabilizes herself with when displaying her impeccable twerking skills. As far as the verses go, Meg does ride the beat well, with a steady flow that we’ve heard before. She manages to tuck in some epic Instagram-worthy captions (“I told him ain't no taming me, I love my n—as equally”) and smart nods to her university studies (“College girl, but a freak on the weekend”).
Nicki Minaj’s guest feature is the highlight, as she shows off her cheeky wordplay (“You ain't put me in no brands but I see you proud-a me”) and packs in various kooky voices in her signature Barbie style. But overall, it's not quite enough to put the song in overdrive. Once it ends, you’re still salivating for something with more sauce.
Still, “Hot Girl Summer” will undoubtedly get spins in the clubs and on radio. It may not have the same oomph as other standouts from Megan’s Fever (see: “Cash Shit” and “Simon Says”), but it’s a mellow tune for DJs to slot in their mixes as a lead-up to catchier cuts like City Girls’ “Act Up” and Saweetie’s “My Type” — making for the ultimate 2019 unapologetic women trifecta.
As the season begins to wind down (summer officially ends on Sept. 22), it may be too late to anticipate another theme song. But putting “Hot Girl Summer” aside, both Megan and Nicki have plenty of anthems in their arsenal that fans can twerk to. And honestly, Hot Girl Summer is way bigger than any single song could convey. It proved to be a massive pop culture moment that celebrates self-love while crushing patriarchal standards. So expect this declaration to continue throughout the fall, and possibly even during the start of cuffing season in the winter — the concept of carefree women isn’t stopping anytime soon.