Traumazine

Megan Thee Stallion

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Traumazine Review

by Fred Thomas

Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion became a worldwide star on the strength of her unshakeable rhyme skills and a persona that exuded power and confidence. Pop-geared songs dripping with sex, money, and celebratory energy didn't hurt either, and Megan's lewd and ungovernable style somehow paved a lane of its own and rode it to the higher reaches of the charts. Second studio album Traumazine finds her taking small steps away from her hyperconfident persona to explore the emotional complexities of her own lived experiences, resulting in a record that's more vulnerable and open than anything she's delivered before. One of the first and most boldly expressed emotions Megan works through is anger, proclaiming "I'm on my 'f*ck you' sh*t" in the first lines of "Not Nice," and doubling down with bitterness, exhaustion, and a zero-tolerance-for-nonsense perspective on the bulk of Traumazine's first half. One after another, "NDA," "Ungrateful," and "Not Nice" zoom by with Megan decimating everyone who's ever looked at her sideways, aiming her bars at both the everyday haters and larger specters of systemic oppression. She addresses mental health struggles fairly implicitly on "Anxiety" and dots various songs with political commentary and righteous rage over both her personal angst and larger societal injustices. Traumazine isn't all trauma, however, as Megan splits the difference more or less evenly between charged introspection and the kind of self-assured, feel-good bangers she made her name on. Streamlined, 808-heavy production propels the simmering, Future-featuring "Pressurelicious," and "Plan B"'s throwback beat, sauntering flow, and MIDI horn stabs sound beamed in from 1993. The trappy "Who Me" is one of the album's tougher, more direct tunes, with a guest verse from Pooh Shiesty bolstering the song's menacing atmosphere. Comparatively, the Dua Lipa collaboration "Sweetest Pie" seems almost like it belongs on a different record, with sugary vocal hooks and a polished pop instrumental sounding a little too friendly to sit alongside the heavier themes dissected earlier on. Traumazine is solid but inconsistent, with one foot in formula-tested mainstream rap and the other in a more confessional, emotionally bare territory that's new for Megan Thee Stallion. Despite its occasional unevenness, the album is exciting in both its moments of audience-tested hitmaking and when Megan cracks the veneer of her invincible persona to share feelings that are difficult, messy, and real.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
NDA
Megan Thee Stallion 03:21 Amazon
2 Megan Thee Stallion 02:34 Amazon
3 Megan Thee Stallion 02:45 Amazon
4 Megan Thee Stallion 03:21 Amazon
5
Her
Megan Thee Stallion 02:17 Amazon
6 Megan Thee Stallion 02:52 Amazon
7 Megan Thee Stallion 02:11 Amazon
8 Megan Thee Stallion 01:58 Amazon
9 Megan Thee Stallion 02:34 Amazon
10 Megan Thee Stallion 02:33 Amazon
11 Megan Thee Stallion 02:15 Amazon
12 Megan Thee Stallion 02:08 Amazon
13 Megan Thee Stallion 03:40 Amazon
14 Megan Thee Stallion 03:30 Amazon
15 Megan Thee Stallion 02:53 Amazon
16 Megan Thee Stallion 02:43 Amazon
17 Megan Thee Stallion 04:03 Amazon
18 Megan Thee Stallion feat: Dua Lipa 03:21 Amazon
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