No more Ms. Nice Bitch – it’s time for Ms. Nasty. After cover art and track leaks, and in the midst of her ongoing battle with 1501 Certified Entertainment, hip hop superstar Megan Thee Stallion is no longer playing it by the rules; with a surprise drop of sophomore album ‘Traumazine’ hitting last night, the record serves as a middle-finger to those trying to control her art, her voice and, her body. This is her dominion. In a blaze of cutting take downs and melt-in-your-mouth hooks, Megan has constructed a multi-layered exercise in empowerment – as well as unveiling an entirely new layer of vulnerability. Sharp-tongued and bold as ever, this record asserts Megan as “That Bitch”.
‘Traumazine’ is a warning. Opening track ‘NDA’ immediately asserts that Megan is “sick of being humble cuz you bitches don’t respect me”, while Key Glock-feature ‘Ungrateful’ is equally as cutting, venomously cutting loose all the “fake-ass bitches”. This slick, no-nonsense attitude permeates throughout, bolstered by a quest for self-preservation. ‘Not Nice’ does it best, embracing a smooth, cruise-control flow as the rapper cries out “fuck it bitch, I’m not nice…I know that I’m that bitch.”
The personal and sonic growth from 2020 debut ‘Good News’ is evident. Every track is pointedly self-assured; Megan knows her worth and refuses to let anyone get in her way. Lucky Daye feature ‘Star’ and the ‘Her’ both emphasise Megan’s newly embraced superstar status; the latter’s muted club minimalism in particular absolutely drowns in blissful self-love as she raps: “I’m Her, Her, Her…take a pic, it’s me.”
Sexual empowerment is also part-and-parcel when it comes to Hot Girl Meg, so it makes sense that ‘Traumazine’ dials up the raunch. Standout anthem ‘Sweetest Pie’ oozes aphrodisiac magic, the glittering Dua Lipa feature a dazzling, disco-pop delight. ‘Consistency’ also takes on Jhené Aiko’s beautifully sexy R&B flow, resulting in a rich, deeply seductive track. ‘Red Wine’, ‘Ms. Nasty’ and ‘Pressurelicious’ also rile with Dionysian pleasure, Megan’s femininity smouldering throughout. ‘Gift & A Curse’ also snarls at recent shift in abortion laws in light of Roe V. Wade, Megan embracing sexual freedom and bodily autonomy with the siren cry: “my motherfuckin’ body, my choice”.
Beneath the grandeur, however, there is a seething layer of honesty as ‘Traumazine’ unfolds. ‘Flip Flop’ explores the aftermath of Megan’s life after the passing of her mother; heartfelt and vulnerable, the bruised softness is a welcome respite. ‘Anxiety’ also takes a detour, a striking confessional exploring Megan’s wavering metal health. Name-dropping the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Britney Spears and Whitney Houston only adds to the potency of her message; beneath the lavish lifestyle and media-trained visage, there’s a tragic, seedier reality to infamy.
Yet not all of the vulnerability is delicate. ‘Plan B’ is a ferocious diss track. Undoubtedly aimed at ex Tory Lanez, the track luxuriates of the glory of plan b – the weightless relief of not being forever tied to someone capable of such damage. The track is a cathartic snarl, heightening the punch of earlier track ‘Gift & A Curse’; creative and bodily freedom continue to play integral roles in her artistry.
By the time the record comes to a close, one thing is clear: ‘Traumazine’ is a deeper excavation of who Megan Jovon Ruth Pete is. While the glossy persona of “That Bitch” Megan Thee Stallion is able to roam free, introspective uncertainties linger beneath the surface. ‘Traumazine’ abounds in empowering affirmations but, beneath it all, this is a release that starts to unpack Megan the human.
Words: Emily Swingle
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