Megan Thee Stallion
It’s hard to believe that this is Megan Thee Stallion’s debut album. And I mean that in purely musical terms – 2019’s “mixtape” Fever felt like an album-quality collection, and was a broad announcement; my introduction. I loved that set of songs, played it often – it gave me flashbacks to Foxy Brown and the couple of Lil’ Kim albums I used to love (and still enjoy on occasion). Things like that…
Also bits of Missy Elliott, perhaps more particularly on this year’s EP (nearly album-length, and almost album-quality) “Suga”.
Then of course there’s the mega-success of Cardi B-collab WAP.
All that, and she was shot this year.
Good News opens with a song addressing that, Shots Fired. Cleverly it references the Notorious B.I.G. song Who Shot Ya? In this case Megan knows. Allegedly it was rapper Tory Lanez. Megan names and shames them. So good luck printing those lyrics while Lanez is pleading not guilty.
From there it’s to the party-rap of Circles.
Songs about bodies dominate. What they look like, what they feel like, how they should be used – and if I’m honest I could care less what she’s singing about. I mean I’m all for the female empowerment angle, or anyone’s empowerment I guess – but when I listen to Megan Thee Stallion I’m transported to when I used to listen to Missy and The Lady of Rage, to Dr. Dre’s 2001 album (which I’m still playing fairly regularly) with its rollcall of filthy-minded, dirty-mouthed rappers (male and female) and how for me it’s more about the vibe of things than the meaning; more the combination of the vocals (sound over actual lyrics) with the beats and also when it is about the lyrics it’s about the absurdity and cleverness of the rhymes.
Which is why WAP was so good to my ears. It was funny.
It was also like the pro-wrestling of rap. Which is what Megan Thee Stallion reminds me of too – this is pro-wrestling-as-music. When that manifests in something hokey-af like KISS I’m turned off completely. But I find something compelling about this.
Also the current crop of mumble-rapping males does my head in. I call it Tranquilizer Rap. Like they drift to sleep mid-sentence over some mumble garbage about being miserable.
This is more the rap of celebration – simple celebrations too. Being pleased to be alive, being keen to fuck, down to clown and happy to party. I can’t really relate to any of it but I know that I like to hear it.
I also know that isolating tunes doesn’t really work for me – I need to hear it as a whole. I spent loads of time with Fever (and Suga to a degree) and there are highlights, sure, but it was about listening to the whole, stepping into the world created. Good old fashioned Album-Listening in that sense then.
So whilst Sugar Baby with its fast-mouthed rapping and it’s great pop hook is a highlight, and while Body is a great (filthy) grinder that stands up to no scrutiny whatsoever but goes down quicker and better than any cold drink on the hottest hot day – and it’s interesting to hear Megan try to sing rather than rap on the 80s-tinged electro-pop confection of Don’t Rock Me To Sleep I don’t really want to think of this as a bunch of singles and some filler; I want to drink this in as a whole big gulp of fun.
That means I’ll be over it soon. No doubt.
But for right now, as incongruous as it might be, I’m totally sold on this.
The remix of Savage (the big Beyonce-featuring hit) is a great soft-focus re-do as well. It’s the little lifts and twists that make this not only feel like a great debut album but like it’s the first truly significant release from Megan Thee Stallion.
She’s a cartoon character. Totally. But I reckon she can spit lines. Really good, potent, funny ones. And I’m here for that. For now at least.
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