An album that debuts at number two on the Billboard 200 and features industry giants like Beyoncé and Young Thug shouldn't be a first outing. Megan Thee Stallion makes it happen, though, and I can't complain.
Megan seems to have the dream upbringing for any aspiring music artist. She started releasing singles and EPs on her own, got signed to a label and now rules 2020 hip-hop. She became a household name after a series of hit singles in 2019, such as "Hot Girl Summer" and "Cash Shit," but her first album just released in November, aptly titled "Good News."
Getting something from her is always, indeed, good news. From the start, Megan establishes herself with an assertive and honest voice. After the incident with Tory Lanez earlier this year, she addresses it first thing in the song "Shots Fired," almost like she wanted to get it out of the way and get back to her own work.
What follows is probably my favorite song from the album, "Circles," a positive anthem of self-worth and why you should put yourself first. It's a joyous, uptempo and major-keyed song that's rare to find in rap. I've come back to it multiple times now, and it always feels like it finishes too soon.
Ironically, for an album that's less than an hour long, "Circles" is the only song I felt was too short. While Megan has total control over her flow — her breath control is unbelievable — the production accompanying her is kind of lacking. The ad libs are almost identical across the board and the structure is usually the standard verse-chorus-verse. A lot of it blends in from one song to the next in the middle of the album. Maybe that's only an issue when listening to the album all in one go, which I did initially, but when listening to each song on its own, devoid of album context, they all hold their own.
These songs are rather short, usually under three minutes. While others might find it too quick, I welcome the length. The beats and melodies are delightfully simple, and a long length would take the charm away from it. While Megan uses plenty of influences in this outing, I think the biggest influence I can feel is the simpler loops and beats of 1990s rap where all you needed was one good melodic clip and a drum kit. The 808 cowbell even appears every now and then. The bare nature of her music let's the real star shine, and Megan's flow is the thing that really sets her apart from so many others today.
Though, it must be said this is one of the raunchiest and most graphic things I've listened to. I don't mind, but some will, which is fine, as long as you can recognize she still has a flow that's hard to match. While this could be seen as a weakness for her lyricism, I can't agree. The way she rhymes and adjusts rhythms to line up, without any hesitation, is great. Lyricism isn't so much about the subject being rapped, I feel, but how well you can connect what you're saying. Plus, the rampant amount of sexual lyrics is hardly an issue. At the very least, she's sexualizing herself instead of the oft reverse in rap. As much as she talk about sex, she's still nowhere near the levels of horniness that male R&B artists were at in the 1990s and 2000s.
The subject being what it is does make "Good News" feel a little light hearted for a first album, but the image Megan is establishing is a welcome one. It's one of pride and self-assuredness, which seems like a prerequisite for any woman entering the rap industry. It's notoriously rife with competition, be it genuine or manufactured by the industry. Her confidence is brimming with each song, and even if it isn't perfect, it's definitely the voice of Megan Thee Stallion.