Megan Thee Stallion's new single Cobra is a strong statement; her first self-funded release since acrimoniously parting ways with label 1501 Certified Entertainment, it raises the themes of change in the face of adversity, and living under the scrutiny of the public eye. But it's also proved an unexpected showcase for electric guitar in the mainstream – and has already managed to do that not once, but twice.
The latest is a collaboration with the fastest-rising heavy band on the planet right now; Spiritbox. The brainchild of guitarist Mike Stringer and vocalist Courtney LaPlante, their 'rock' remix of the song injects 7-string guitar chug and LaPlante's new chorus and harmony screams to stunning effect. It's a huge crossover for both parties.
Hip-hop's inclusion of guitars isn't a new idea by any means – as Run-DMC and Public Enemy will attest. But collaborations between the new breed of heavy players and mainstream artists hasn't really come to fruition in the way it could.
Megan Thee Stallion's collaboration with Spiritbox could change that – it showcases the potential. But her original version of Cobra features a completely different star turn for a guitarist.
When was the last time you heard a guitar solo closing a hip-hop track? Diggy Lessard's licks can be heard throughout the song – EQ'd to suggest a cocked wah tonality a la Mick Ronson. The 25-year-old son of Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard recently talked to Rolling Stone about the studio session.
“I would play a little something and she would stop me and be like, ‘Oh, you had that right there,'” he reflected on his session in LA he played on a Gibson SG with four other people in attendance – including the rapper. “And sometimes she would even sing to me like, ‘Can you play like this?’ I think it was very in the moment, very organic and I think she knew she wanted to bring that vibe in.”
Lessard's playing in the solo was also directed by Megan.
“There’s this one guitar line in the middle of the solo — I remember that moment in particular, she stood up and she started dancing next to me, showing me how she wanted that guitar line to fit with the groove and fit with the song,” Lessard recalled. “And the way that she choreographed the dance at the end of the video to go along with that guitar solo, it brings back that moment.”