Solidifying her position amongst rap’s big stars of the 2020s, this second studio album shows an encouraging diversity alongside her good ear for beats
Whisper it, but by the end of 2020 there was the slight risk of Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion being pigeonholed. She had big hits, but previous releases indicated she was capable of more depth than was on show, and Traumazine shows an encouraging diversity alongside her good ear for beats and some inspired collaborations.
Ungrateful pulls no punches, focusing on those that have betrayed her trust and the alienation of fame (“whole lot of fake-ass snake-ass backstabbing hating-ass no-money-getting-ass-bitches”) while imposing piano notes mesh with trap percussion. Elsewhere Plan B documents her frustration with a no-good guy with a Biggie-esque flow, and the introspection on Anxiety gets closest to reflecting the album’s title. But to treat Megan as the new Earl Sweatshirt would be a mistake, as tracks like Budget and Pressurelicious serve the sex-raps that have made her famous with panache (the latter including Future’s surprisingly emphatic endorsement of Adderall).
On the more poppy side of things Her’s hip-house vibes complement Megan’s delivery despite the overly repetitive hook, and Sweetest Pie comes with a gorgeous electric piano line and sensual vocal appearance from Dua Lipa, a novel but winning combination. Indeed, the only feature that really falls flat is Pooh Shiesty’s hostile relationship to rhythm and tempo on Who Me, as if his syllables have been time-stretched to a different accompaniment altogether.
Megan continues to broaden her artistic horizons on the horrorcore stylings of Scary, and the ambitious intentions of Southside Royalty Freestyle pay off as she holds her own amongst local legends Lil Keke, Big Pokey and Sauce Walka. Red Wine also displays the singing chops that remain relatively underused, showing an interesting path for future development. But Traumazine is a success in its own right, solidifying her position amongst rap’s big stars of the 2020s.