The shooting incident allegedly involving Tory Lanez and Megan Thee Stallion is already an unprecedented moment in rap history. Now, Tory has decided to plunge further into surreality with his surprise Daystar album, a project too contemptible to be evaluated on any musical scale.
Frankly, the sonics don’t matter. His “Megan people tryna frame me for a shootin’” lyrics on the tellingly-titled “Money Over Fallouts” conveyed enough for the people who simply wanted to know what he had to say about the violence he’s alleged of. But then he kept going. The project is a spectacle of male ego, as he shirks accountability, brings up his crush on Kylie Jenner, and disses several celebrities for believing Megan’s claims that she was shot.
Tory says he still has feelings for Megan, but if he truly cared about her, he wouldn’t have released an entire project attempting to make money off of her trauma. First, he questioned if she was really shot, asking, “How the fuck you get shot in your foot, don’t hit no bones or tendons?” He later contradicted himself by asking, “If you got shot from behind how can you identify me?” Tory had two months to “get his story straight,” but instead of expressing accountability, regret, or empathy, it’s far and away hip-hop’s grandest exhibition of victimhood.
At a time when people, specifically Black women, are still hurt that the Louisville grand jury didn’t feel like cops killing Breonna Taylor was a crime, Tory Lanez released a 17-track tirade exploiting Megan’s pain, all in hopes to salvage his career and win favor from men who are just as fragile as him. Based on the project’s status atop the iTunes charts, and the harassment in Megan’s Instagram comments, it appears he found enough of them to believe his story. The circumstance is another indictment on patriarchy.
The common denominator in many Black male entertainers’ abuses is that their victims are Black women and girls. But most of these men still have careers, in part because they were able to make themselves sympathetic figures to misogynists. Chris Brown cried during a Michael Jackson tribute and all was forgiven for people who didn’t care for Rihanna’s pain. R. Kelly dropped a cloying 19-minute track where he admitted his illiteracy and being a “broke ass legend” and won sympathy.
Tory, like all of us, has seen male entertainers systematically sidestep accountability and maintain their careers. He’s seen the dismissive reactions to Black women’s tearful admissions, with bad-faith adages like “we’ll see how the facts play out,” and “there’s two sides to a story.” He saw fans claim that they can somehow separate R. Kelly’s sexual music from his sexual abuse, and he saw Chris Brown’s attack on Rihanna disturbingly morph into the “‘Chris Brown Army’ vs. the ‘Rihanna Navy.’” He just saw Talib Kweli parlay weeks of harassing a Black woman into a boost for his Patreon following.
Most people thought “Tory is done” in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, but there were too many needlessly skeptical people for that to be the case. First, men ridiculed the shooting, then questioned Megan’s culpability, then questioned her healing, all the while ignoring her admission that she felt “unprotected.” In a patriarchal world, “he said-she said” always gives the benefit of the doubt to the man. So, like a slimy defense attorney, Tory sought to capitalize on that reality and raise doubt in manipulative fashion.
Tory burst out of the gate firing on the project, accusing Megan of lying about the shooting and rhyming “I don’t give a damn if shorty knows Jigga” to paint himself as the target of a smear campaign. He also took on people who condemned him, including other women like Dream Doll and Asian Doll, along with JR Smith and Chance The Rapper. It would seem that even if Tory didn’t actually shoot Megan, he would understand why people would denounce him. But instead, he fired back at all of them, making himself the victim of the circumstance.
It’s as if Tory Lanez spent the last two months reading what Black men were saying on social media, and vied to project it all back to them in twisted male solidarity. Now, they’re in Megan’s Instagram comments quoting Tory’s lines and surmising, “Once Tory explains himself, you got some explaining to do after that.” But Megan already explained herself. The people attacking her want her to reply so they can twist and pull at her every word instead of accepting the only three that matter: “Tory shot me.”
This circumstance isn’t just about Tory Lanez, or even the music industry. It’s about the interlinking of patriarchy and capitalism. Those systems are what allow an alleged aggressor to become the sympathetic victim, and to have Megan’s pain exploited on streaming platforms so he and corporations (including her Roc Nation management) can make money off of it.
Black people’s trauma is industrialized. We die, and don’t get justice, but we get documentaries. Now, Black women get shot and receive denial albums while they’re trying to heal. Daystar is the epitome of capitalism’s amorality. That’s why Black women everywhere are making demands to dismantle our existing social constructs and imagine a new world, to get rid of the power dynamics that allow for gross, exploitative displays like this.