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Megan Thee Stallion takes the stand in the trial of rapper Tory Lanez

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The rapper Megan Pete, better known as Megan Thee Stallion, testified in a Los Angeles courtroom yesterday against fellow rapper Daystar Peterson, who performs under the name Tory Lanez. Now, Pete alleges that Peterson shot her during an argument in 2020. The trial has been a hot topic among fans and other artists and has sparked conversations around male dominance and violence against women in the hip-hop community. NPR's Sidney Madden is the host of our podcast Louder Than a Riot and has been following this trial. All right, Sidney, so fill us in on how we got here. The two were friends, but she says that he shot her a couple of years ago.

SIDNEY MADDEN, BYLINE: Yes, the two were friends. And we've even learned in court proceedings in the last couple of days that they had an intimate relationship before the night of July 12, 2020. That's when the two were leaving an LA pool party in the early morning hours in a vehicle. And that's when an argument broke out between herself, Tory and Megan's former friend Kelsey that resulted in Megan being shot in both feet. And that's really the fastest way to say it. There's a lot of details associated with this case. Now, Tory is pleading not guilty on all three of the charges he's facing - assault with a semiautomatic firearm, possession of that concealed firearm and negligent discharge of that firearm. And his defense asserts that he was not the shooter that night. But Meg took the stand yesterday and shared in great detail and through many tears that he very much was the shooter.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, both Pete and Peterson have very vocal fans, so they're supporting each of them. Tell us, though, about some of the conversations that this trial has sparked about violence against women in hip-hop.

MADDEN: Yeah. So in the age of social media, a lot of the details of the case leading up to this trial and also a lot of misinformation has been shared online that's really sparked and catalyzed debate online about who is telling the truth. Like, up until a couple months ago, for example, a lot of naysayers didn't even believe that Megan was shot in the feet. You can think of this as kind of a classic he-said, she-said but magnified to the nth degree because of the hypersaturation and the news cycle of hip-hop. Then there's an added layer of hip-hop that incorporates deep-seated misogyny that really permeates through hip-hop's foundations and, I mean, also society writ large, really. And it's one that often casts doubt on survivors of domestic violence, especially Black women. So this back-and-forth of this case has really become a flashpoint in the lineage of that constant struggle within the culture.

MARTÍNEZ: Didn't believe she was shot. I mean, weren't there pictures? I thought I saw pictures.

MADDEN: There were - there was a lot. There was a lot of evidence. There was a lot of misconstrued information. And there was also a lot of people casting doubt because Megan originally said to responding officers that she stepped on glass and was not shot in the foot. That's something that she had to repute and really clarify in court yesterday. And she said one of the main reasons she did that originally is because of her own distrust of the police and wanting to protect Tory, her aggressor.

MARTÍNEZ: And really quick, you're going to be the courtroom this week. What's next for this trial?

MADDEN: Yeah. So, so far, there's been opening statements and testimony from the arresting officer that night, the detective on the case. And then, like I said, yesterday, Megan herself gave really emotional testimony. But coming up this week, we have Kelsey Harris, who's Megan's former friend, who was the witness that night, a firearms expert and then even possibly the reality TV star and socialite Kylie Jenner may take the stand because it was her party they were leaving that night.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Sidney Madden, host of the podcast Louder Than a Riot. Sidney, thanks.

MADDEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Sidney Madden is a reporter and editor for NPR Music. As someone who always gravitated towards the artforms of music, prose and dance to communicate, Madden entered the world of music journalism as a means to authentically marry her passions and platform marginalized voices who do the same.