Megan Thee Stallion resets her terms with ‘Traumazine’

Given where she’s been lately, it’s no surprise that Megan you stallion has chosen to dispense with jokes on his new album. The ferocity of Traumazine begins with his cover, which shows his face in an emotive triplicate reminiscent of Cerberus, the three-headed hellhound of Greek mythology. At Dante’s Hell, Cerberus resides in the Third Circle of Hell with the gluttons, where he “rips the spirits, flays them and quarters them”. As an executioner, Megan is more accurate. On the Rico Nasty collab”Scary“, she renders both her lyrical and physical form as an ominous omen for her detractors: “Say my name like Candyman, and bitch, you know I’m there / These hoes wish they saw me when they look in the mirror. ”

Megan is also used to being the life of every party. Her bawdy, unapologetic 5’10” presence quickly won over her devoted followers, and as her star rose, she indulged in rowdy revelry with those loyal supporters at famous traveling spaces called “Hottie Parties”. was so eager to please that base – the fans who helped raise the carnal, slow-burning “Big Ole Freak” from her 2018 EP Tina Snow, in her first bona fide hit – that she continued to play like the good time girl they had come to love even as she entered what would be the most traumatic years of her life. Where his first studio album, 2020s Good newsresounded against public awareness of this unrest, Traumazine leans into it: making room for ruminations and grief, dealing with the swirling emotions produced by years of acrimony and letting them come to the surface cathartically. By seeking a more confessional mode, she reaffirms her commitment to speaking her speech.

At her best, Megan is a lyrical virtuoso who brings movement and menace to her self-contained songs, crafting innovative rhyme schemes that both thrill and titillate, then coat them in her seductive Houston drawl. She bares her teeth on the opening track, “NES,” weaving in and out of Memphis producer Hitkidd’s hi-hat-heavy production to make multi-syllabic mincemeat: “They’re taking all the hate that they have for me and they market her / When they don’t do nothing, they use Megan for marketing / And they don’t have enough budget for me to talk to them.” “Ungrateful,” featuring Memphis rapper Key Glock, is in conversation with his cult character “Always Tippin’ Freestyle— doubling down on the searing flows of this verse, she swings her beats around the ups and downs of the melody. The ease with which Megan navigates collaborations with Memphis producers and rappers only heightens the tensions of the former Three 6 Mafia Gangsta Boo in her DNA On “Who Me,” she brings fellow Memphis native Pooh Sheisty together, fit around the drums while joking, “I feel like Biggie, who shot you ? But everybody knows who shot me, bitch.”

Trauma is cyclical, especially when you are forced to process it before the world. Megan’s string of accomplishments – three Grammy wins, two chart-topping records and a college degree – have been thwarted by a series of misfortunes. In 2019, his mother, a stabilizing figure in his life, died of brain cancer. An ongoing dispute with his record label, 1501 Certified Entertainment, has complicated his career. But most pressingly, in 2020, she was shot in an incident involving rapper and singer Tory Lanez, and the near-constant refutation of her version of events, both in the courtroom and in court. public opinion, was an obvious drain on his energy. In the songs of Traumazineshe comes to terms with these events by probing her own feelings, returning to familiar places and reaffirming her skills as one of the heavy hitters of bar-to-bar rap.

The more introspective tracks, like “Anxiety,” do a kind of sleight of hand, deftly using upbeat production to cover darker bits: “If I could write a letter to heaven / I’d tell my momma that I should have listened / And I’d tell him sorry for being so wild / And ask him to forgive me, ’cause I really tried,” she raps. It’s a brave decision to expose her wounds, metaphorically or otherwise, as she suffered repeated recriminations for this choice. But in this case, she’s not looking to exculpate herself, but to offer insight, showing that even one of rap’s most confident women can be plagued by the deepest insecurities. “Not Nice” and “Plan B” dispense with the pretense of assuaging a listener in their frustrations, launching straight into the depths of what feel like venting sessions in a private diary: laden with expletives, unbridled and rude. .

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For those who have long been clamoring for Meg to return to the charming and commanding character work of Foxy Brown-meets-Pimp C of Tina Snow, there’s a lot of sample-heavy, raunchy, nonchalant music that defined this era. This reset is exemplified by “Consistency,” which uses a sample of The Isley Brothers’ “Between the Sheets” as cushion for breezy, cheeky raps tailored for a late-night Instagram Stories caption. “Ms. Nasty” is a short, pithy return to erotic form, whipping its words with the force of a lyrical dominatrix. She playfully takes the reins of the beat, which unleashes like a mechanical bull, as a clear demonstration of her undeniable control: “PIMP, put it in my pocket / If it ain’t ’bout my money or me nuttin ‘, we ain’t talking.”

On a long 18 titles, part of the power of the album is diluted by more inert moments. His stereotypical and timeless debut single, “Pressurelicious,” presents Future at its most asynchronous. The album’s capping “Sweetest Pie” is an abrupt change in tone and seems to serve no purpose beyond securing a streaming-bloated RIAA certification at the expense of cohesion. Likewise, “Star” is an unexpected and awkward intermission of Megan’s more aggressive and raunchy melodies.

But for every swing and miss there is also a statement. Despite Meg’s rapid rise to popstar status, she still roars the loudest for the hometown that shaped her, helped shape her sound, and continues to stand by her side. The Juicy J-produced “Southside Royalty Freestyle” stands out as an ode to the Third Coast, placing Megan among Houston mainstays Sauce Walka, Lil’ Keke and Screwed Up Click’s Big Pokey. “It takes 10 female artists to make a Stallion Megan Thee,” Sauce Walka boasts on his outro, before reminding everyone of Lil Keke’s announced opening bars on DJ Screw Houston’s classic “Pimp the Pen“: “I’m draped and dripping.” The band’s cut reconnects Megan with the sound of her hometown, in what feels like a search for comfort. The encore is needed because she’s become a pop-rap luminary, and elsewhere on the album, she stands squarely in her reputation, as if posing for the cameras.”Her,” a paint-by-numbers dance single that beats the Azealia Bankses of the world at their own game, plays like a statement of renewed purpose In her verses, Megan slyly addresses any sting or insult that might be directed at her before the profane people even bother to press send: “No matter what they do or say, it’s not is not to get rid of me. ”

Megan joins a long line of women seeking agency through music – manifesting their anger, resentment and hard-boiled sexuality – trying to define themselves on their own terms after watching the public tear her story away from her, leaving her with the carnage. To listen Traumazine recalls another time when one of the world’s biggest pop darlings tried to regain his power after a high-profile abuse scandal. For Rihanna, then superstar in the making, audacity To classify helped redefine her, change her image and set the tone for the rest of her career. Whereas Traumazine is not the transformative pop revelation that To classify was, it is absolutely a statement, and at times, a provocation, in line with his freestyle breakthrough. It is a testament to her skill that she displays such mastery; it’s a shame that she even feels the need to prove herself once again.

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