The law behind the diss track – diving into Megan’s Law

Above Image from Business Insider Article

“These hoes don’t be mad at Megan, these hoes mad at Megan’s Law”

Have you heard these rap lyrics floating around on your TikTok, Twitter (or X), or Instagram feed?

If you haven’t – that’s ok. We’ll explain all of the rap-world beef soon.

The “Megan’s Law” line comes from an artist called Megan Thee Stallion’s song “HISS.” This line, and specifically, the law mentioned within the track, is getting quite a lot of attention on social media.

Caution: the video and song features explicit language and imagery.

Image from Rolling Stone Article

But why?

Well, Megan Thee Stallion’s song is a diss track against another famed female artist, Nicki Minaj. Nicki Minaj’s husband, Kenneth Petty, made headlines in 2022 when he was sentenced to home detention and probation for failing to register as a sex offender in California. As required by law, Petty must register as such due to his 1995 attempted rape conviction.

Minaj’s brother, Jelani Maraj, was convicted of predatory sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl in 2017. Three years later, he was sentenced to 25 years to life.

Along with her direct, relational ties to people who have committed these crimes, Minaj has repeatedly supported offenders like Daniel Hernandez (Tekashi 6ix9ine) who opened for Minaj and Future on their NICKIHNDRXX tour. Hernandez pleaded guilty to three felony counts of “use of a child in a sexual performance” in 2015.

Shortly after “HISS” was released, Minaj teased and eventually released her own track, causing this musical fight to blow up across social media. Many speculate that the “Megan’s Law” line was directly calling out Minaj and her association with sex offenders and pedophiles.

As for that particular lyric used by Megan Thee Stallion – the passing of the federal version of Megan’s Law, cited in the first verse of her “HISS” single, was inspired by the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl in New Jersey in 1994.

And what, specifically, is Megan’s Law?

Megan’s Law is named in honor of Megan Kanka, who was raped and murdered in New Jersey in 1994. Unbeknownst to Megan Kanka and her family, they had been living across the street from a violent predator previously convicted of a sex offense against a child. Before the murder, Jesse Timmendequas had been convicted of assaulting two other children. Three years later, Timmendequas, Kanka’s neighbor, was finally convicted of Megan’s murder. In the wake of that tragedy, the Kankas sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area.

In 1996, Megan’s Law, which is an amendment the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act of 1994, resulted in the federal mandating of “public disclosure of information about registered sex offenders when required to protect the public.” Megan’s Law also authorizes local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about sex offender registrants found to be posing a risk to public safety. Sex offender laws at the state level are also often referred to under the same name, though exact details of those laws may differ.

To this point, individual states decide what information will be made available and how it should be disseminated. Commonly included information in the release is the offender’s name, picture, address, incarceration date, and offense of conviction. The information is often displayed on free public websites (like Facebook), but can also be published in newspapers, distributed in pamphlets, or through various other means. For example, anyone can look at the California Megan’s Law website and see that 4,140 registered sex offenders are listed in San Bernadino County. With no more than a city or county search, you can find out what the offender looks like, their name, and their address.

Image from Wikipedia

At the federal level, Megan’s Law requires persons convicted of sex crimes against children to notify local law enforcement of any change of address or employment after release from custody (prison or psychiatric facility). The notification requirement may be imposed for a fixed period—usually at least ten years—or permanently. Some states may legislate registration for all sex crimes, even if no minors were involved. It is a felony in most jurisdictions to fail to register or fail to update information.

Over the years, many people have unsuccessfully challenged the law, which has grown to include a wider net of offenders who may or may not actually pose threats to the community at large. Proponents think the current laws help community members, parents, and law enforcement officers recognize potential threats to young children as well as to adults. While a 2008 study found that the law has no tangible impact on keeping offenders from offending, the strongest benefit of the list is the potential for community members to arm themselves with knowledge. 

Moving back to the diss line itself – Minaj is not directly responsible for the actions of her family and friends, but the influence she wields is clear. The choice to use her platform to further legitimize the sexual predators in her life sends a message of normalization to the millions of people who hold her in high regard. Megan’s diss track served to call Minaj out on this fact, and this is one of those situations where art is certainly imitating life.

If you need any additional information, have a question, or a concern, feel free to reach out to Options at our 24-hour toll-free helpline 800-794-4624. You can also reach an advocate via text by texting HOPE to 847411 or click 24-Hour Chat with Options.

Written by Anniston Weber