The Pop Culture References in Megan Thee Stallion’s 'Boa'

Megan Thee Stallion's cover art for "Boa" single. Credit - TIME

Megan Thee Stallion’s latest music video for “Boa” released on Friday, leaving anime and video games fans rejoicing at the various references made by the head Hot Nerd herself.

The video kicks off with three friends sitting down to play a Jumanji-esque 2D-style video game, before learning that their death in the game will simulate their ill-fated fortune in real life. Their demise, of course, is delivered by Megan, donning costumes inspired by One Piece and Tekken characters while throwing punches and kicks at players as if she’s part of the classic beat’em up games made popular in the ‘90s.

The concept for the video should come as no surprise. The Grammy-winning rapper is well-known for being an anime enthusiast, even presenting an award at the 2024 Crunchyroll Anime Awards this March. Megan, also known as Tina Snow, has also previously cosplayed as My Hero Academia’s Mirko and Bruno Bucciarati from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Fans have also noticed that the song title, “Boa” matches her running theme of snakes, with her two other singles being “Cobra” and “Hiss.” Serpents often symbolize a sly and cunning nature, but in the context of this new era, may also represent renewal because of the way the creature sheds its skin. The name is also reminiscent of “Pirate Empress” Boa Hancock, a character from anime series One Piece, who Megan cosplays as on the single’s cover art and in the video.

Here’s a running list of the references.

One Piece and Mortal Kombat

Meg’s hairstyle and serpent scepter as her weapon of choice are all in reference to One Piece’s Boa Hancock. The anime character is typically seen with Salome, a large, white, skull-bearing snake, by her side. Her outfit, however, may also take inspiration from Mortal Kombat’s Mileena based on the boots and attire.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

The music video has striking similarities to the graphic novel series turned-movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which follows protagonist Scott Pilgrim who has to battle his girlfriend’s seven evil exes. Pilgrim’s fighting scenes in the film are pungent, dramatic, and filled with over-the-top animation and lights just as Megan’s are.

Gwen Stefani

The song also includes a sample from Gwen Stefani's 2004 "What You Waiting For?" The ‘tik-tok’ Stefani sings in her original hit song can be heard in the background of Megan’s new tune.

Christie from Tekken

Meg also seemingly referenced Christie Monteiro from the Tekken video game series, wearing a similarly metallic gold top and leather pants with chaps, though her bottoms are a snake print. The print could be set to match her serpent theme, or in reference to Bryan Fury, also from Tekken, fans speculate.

Dance Dance Revolution

Meg also builds on the nostalgia factor with a significant portion of her video set in a scene with Dance Dance Revolution tiles, in reference to the classic arcade dancing game. The arrows are placed on top of funky light-neon colored squares.

Space Channel 5

Many online users have clued in on the fact that Meg’s outfits and background also take inspiration from Space Channel 5, with Meg’s pink wig and pigtails mostly-bearing similarity to Ulala, who battles aliens with dance moves.

Squidward Face Meme

Some users also pointed to the iconic scene where Meg quite literally smushed a player to death by sitting on his face as being similar to a popular SpongeBob SquarePants scene featuring Squidward.

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