Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Cobra’ takes aim at the snakes in her life — Andscape
Megan Thee Stallion is good for making a rap anthem that chops her haters down to size.
But on her latest single, the rap-rock song “Cobra” (her first as an independent artist), Megan saves her lyrical dynamite for those who claimed to love her and yet betrayed her.
“Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past, over and over again,” the Houston rapper’s disembodied mouth says at the beginning of the video for “Cobra.” Megan, who has been dismissed as a “p—y rapper,” has something serious to say. And she wants us to actually listen.
We’ve watched Megan go through difficult times these past few years. She lost her only living parent, her mother, and her grandmother in 2019. The following year, Megan began a battle for her freedom from her record label, 1501 Certified Entertainment, and was shot by Tory Lanez, who she considered a friend. The world saw Kelsey Harris, her former best friend, turn against her over the man who victimized her. And we watched as Megan was retraumatized by Lanez’s misogynistic hate campaign, which only subsided after his conviction and sentencing.
It’s no wonder, then, that when we first see Megan Thee Stallion’s full body in the “Cobra” video, she’s in the belly of a snake, swallowed, but not consumed. A fan of the Japanese manga series Naruto, Megan pays homage to Orochimaru, a shape-shifting villain whose affinity for snakes and quest for immortality keep him at odds with Naruto. In the video, the snake opens its mouth and Megan crawls out of it, like Orochimaru, slick and slimy from the journey, but still the baddest. It has done its worst and she’s still standing.
Immediately upon getting free in “Cobra,” Megan confronts the snakes in her life. Not the strangers on the internet whose venom has its limits, but the people standing with her, next to her, in her home. In the song, she says that some in her inner circle watched her cry and almost die, but did nothing to help her because the checks were still flowing and the party was still going.
As the video continues, Megan is surrounded by baby snakes in her bedroom, as she ruminates on all that she’s lost — her parents, her former lover, friends. She can’t find a silver lining in her wealth, fame, beauty and success. She raps about considering slitting her wrists, and admits she drinks so much wine to dull her pain that she’d bleed out pinot noir. Depression has a hold on her, and the people around her can’t handle it. She redirects her attention to one snake in particular, a lover identified only as “he” (presumably her ex, rapper Pardison Fontaine).
This particular snake thought he was getting the fun-loving, freaky party girl when she wraps her pink nails around his neck, but it’s not kink (and it’s not domestic violence, she adds). “Little did he know,” it’s the stifling weight of mental illness Megan raps. The “WAP” braggart is depressed, she says.
In the song, Megan admits she can’t show up like she used to due to all the loss and trauma she’s experienced. But instead of supporting her, he’s exhausted by her needs. Whatever version of her he thought he was getting, “now he stands corrected,” she raps. At her lowest, he cheats on her in her own bed.
Instead of helping, he adds to her problems, telling everyone else but her about his “concerns” for her. It doesn’t feel like care, it feels like cap. It’s enough to make her lose her mind — or make a change.
By paying homage to her favorite anime character, Megan is not only using snakes as a metaphor for the people around her, she’s also embracing her Orochimaru villain era. Boxed away in a clear case like a pet while those close to her photograph and delight in what they think is her downfall, she’s forced to shed in the public eye. But it’s not just the snakes in her life who have to go. She acknowledges the snake within, the venomous version of herself who is her own worst enemy. She, too, has fangs. With “Cobra,” Megan is shedding everything that no longer serves her to emerge even badder than before.
“I’m killing myself when b—–s would die to be me,” she raps at the point of epiphany.
Poet Audre Lorde once said, “If I look at my most vulnerable places and acknowledge the pain I have felt, I can remove the source of that pain from my enemies’ arsenals.” In “Cobra,” Megan does just that. By acknowledging that her drinking is a problem, that her mental health is in danger, that her anxiety and paranoia are stopping her from functioning like she wants and have contributed to driving her loved ones away, Megan strips the barbs (pun intended) of their poison. She’s clothed herself in the snake’s skin as armor. What can they say about her now?
“He say I’m crazy / don’t I know it,” she retorts.
“Cobra” marks the beginning of a new era for Megan. She’s already prevailed over the lies and violence against her in a court of law. Now, she’s prevailing over toxic truths. She was never “the perfect victim” and she didn’t need to be to deserve love, care, protection and intervention. Now, she’s giving those things to herself.
“The budget is coming from me. Motherf—ing Hot Girl Productions! The next s— y’all about to see is all straight from Megan’s brain, Megan’s wallet,” she said on Instagram Live in October. “We in my pockets, hotties, so let’s do our big one.”
By bankrolling her new era as an independent artist who not only writes her own rhymes but helps produce as well, Megan is reborn, in control of her life and destiny. That doesn’t mean there are no snakes in the grass. There may even still be snakes in her mind. But this version of Megan is back outside and ready for the fight.