2019 XXL Freshman Megan Thee Stallion is one of hip-hop’s newest stars, and there are so many factors behind her magnetic appeal. She’s caught fans’ attention with viral freestyles showcasing her lyrical prowess and carefree twerk videos. Her hit singles “Big Ole Freak” and the DaBaby-featured “Cash Shit” are stacked with confident wordplay and empowering boasts. And Megan even cares about giving back, shown in her organization of a Santa Monica Beach cleanup in June and “Cognac Queen” pageant rewarding a college student tuition money that same month.

One of Megan’s most notable contributions to 2019 is her mantra “Hot Girl Summer,” which has caught fire on social media. Fans, celebs and brands are using the catchphrase to emulate the ways of Thee Stallion.

"It's about women and men being unapologetically them, just having a good-ass time, hyping up their friends, doing you," Megan told The Root of her credo. "You definitely have to be a person who can be the life of the party and just a bad bitch."

Yes, the phenomenon is all about living your best life this summer, especially for women finding new ways to empower themselves in a world that doesn’t always do so. But Hot Girl Summer has also spawned other phrases—like “City Boyz Summer” and “Hot Boy Summer”—language that fans are using to fuel a battle of the sexes on social media in which men and women aim to prove who is more callous in romantic dealings. How did the phrase go from a confidence booster to a catalyst for a (mostly playful) gender war just a few weeks into summer?

First, a little history on hot girls and hot boys. Hip-hop fans point to New Orleans’ own Hot Boys, made up of Lil Wayne, Juvenile, B.G. and Turk, as one of the earliest references. The group formed in 1997 and released the 1999 banger “I Need a Hot Girl.” Missy Elliot’s 1998 track “Hot Boyz” is another classic example. Both songs are about self-proclaimed hot boys and hot girls desiring each other, petty games aside.

The phrases are resurfacing once again thanks to Megan, who calls herself Hot Girl Meg. Naturally, she’s the leader of her fan base, affectionately dubbed Hotties. Megan first tweeted the phrase Hot Girl Summer back in April 2018, yet the slogan took off a year later, right around the time that Meg released her May 2019 project, Fever. “Hotgirl shit all summer,” Meg tweeted a few days after the drop.

Fans followed suit, using the hashtag #hotgirlsummer to caption photos that showed them flourishing during the warm months. R&B duo Chloe and Halle and model Jordyn Woods showed it love. Interest in the search term spiked at the end of June, according to Google Trends. It’s no wonder brands like Wendy’s, Maybelline and Forever 21 have hopped on the bandwagon.

As “Hot Girl Summer” grew in popularity, Megan has been using Twitter ensure that the messaging stays true to its original intent. She assures a hot girl lifestyle can be lived out whether single or in a relationship, while pregnant or with no kids.

Some fans have been declaring “City Girl Summer” interchangeably as a nod to Quality Control’s no-nonsense duo City Girls, made up of JT and Yung Miami. In their music, both rappers pride themselves on finessing men, who are often deemed disposable. It’s a bold clapback to the patriarchal content of their male counterparts. Back in June 2018, JT (who is currently serving a two-year sentence for credit card fraud charges), tweeted “City girl summer 18” along with a meme that quotes one of her lyrics from “Tighten Up.”

Like Hot Girl Summer, City Girl Summer gained traction this year, as City Girls grew more popular with the success of platinum singles like “Act Up” and the Cardi B-guested “Twerk." La La Anthony, who is reportedly having marital issues with her husband, Carmelo Anthony, has felt empowered by both Megan Thee Stallion and City Girls’ signature catchphrases. At Essence Festival earlier this month, she told an audience that she looks forward to enjoying the rest of her summer with friends. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know where we’re going, but we going somewhere, we’re going to do something,’” she said, according to People. “It’s a Hot Girl Summer; it’s a City Girls Summer!”

As City Girl Summer and Hot Girl Summer have become viral meme trends, there’s been a subset of people—often dubbed “City Boyz”—who’ve taken it upon themselves to troll about seeing the Hot Girl Summer fizzle out sooner than later. Around the release of City Girls’ Girl Code in November 2018, the hashtag #cityboyz began to populate on Twitter, often accompanying tweets mocking the group’s lyrics about scamming men and making them pay up for their time.

These posts on social media began to ramp up this summer as a jesting retort to the Hotties’ and City Girls’ way of life. While City Boyz’s mission is murky, one meme lists their “coaching staff” as Future, Offset, the aforementioned Carmelo Anthony and fellow NBA baller Tristan Thompson—all men who have reportedly been adulterous in relationships. Vulnerability seems to be a no-no. When a video of Future stating “I need a muthafuckin wife” resurfaced, word on Twitter was that the City Boyz had taken an L.

Some fans have blown it into an all-out competition centered on which gender could be the most unapologetically savage when dealing with the opposite sex. Megan is well aware. When one fan suggested that the hot girls were losing the imagined contest, Megan tweeted in response, “We ain’t loosing nothing ! this summer is supposed to be about us doing wtf we wanna do having fun!”

After news of her pregnancy broke, Miami pushed back against naysayers who said her future baby would slow her down with a video of her twerking on Instagram. “Who tf said the city girls summer was canceled?” she proclaimed.

One Hot Girl Summer critic wrote to Megan, “This hot girl summer not lookin too good," citing Megan's rumored relationship with Moneybagg Yo, JT's incarceration and Yung Miami and Tokyo Jetz's pregnancies. Megan retorted, “Everybody you just listed here is happy and getting money tho hot girl summer going just fine.”

When Megan joked in an Instagram post that hot girls need to keep their heads in the game, Joe Budden commented, “It’s a Hot Boy Summer, sorry.”

Yung Miami has been playing up the competition as well. Yet it’s clear by her messaging that City Girl Summer is a bit more ruthless. In an Instagram post, Miami posted a text photo, stating, “City Boys Really Think They Winning. Y’all Delusional.” The caption under the photo reads, “Y’all will never win pussy control y’all Mind Sit down! I can call yo phone start a argument and fuck up ya whole day ‍♀”

Although Megan has played into the battle—for example, she told a woman losing confidence, “We gotta turn our savage up”—there are hot girls disgruntled by the City Boyz's attempt to hijack the moment. One Hottie called them out on Twitter, writing: “There is no such thing as a city boy or hit [sic] boy summer. This is proof that women can’t have anything to ourselves lol smh get y’all own motto.”

As the summer continues, the banter between hot girls and city boyz is sure to rage on. Yet Megan Thee Stallion is living proof that a truce is possible. On Monday, she posted an Instagram photo with MoneyBagg Yo, seemingly confirming dating rumors. He did the same. Meg’s caption: “He’s a Hot Boy now.” —Natelegé Whaley

See Photos of Megan Thee Stallion Behind the Scenes at the 2019 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot

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