In ‘Traumazine,’ Megan Thee Stallion cements her place as a rap superstar
Megan Thee Stallion’s latest album “Traumazine” solidifies her position as one of the most exciting rappers working today.
After her debut album “Good News” dropped, Megan sued her former label 1501 Entertainment over contract disputes. But now ‘Traumazine’ marks ‘a crowning glory for a superstar,’ says Dallas-based music writer Taylor Crumpton.
“Megan Thee Stallion is in the bag, quite frankly,” Crumpton says.
Since her 2019 “Fever” mixtape, Megan has been making waves in music, pop culture and fashion. At just 27 years old, Megan has six BET Awards, three Grammys, two MTV Video Music Awards and four American Music Awards under her belt.
“We see Megan struggle with superstar stressors while being authentically herself,” Crumpton said. “That’s why I think Houston comes out so much on this album because she says, ‘I’m not just a superstar, but I’m a Houston superstar.’ And that sends a big message to so many young black girls and women across the South.”
On How Megan Shows Love For Her Hometown On “Traumazine”
“For me, it’s his choice of collaborators. You have Lil Keke and Big Pokey, two members of Screwed Up Click, which is one of the most famous hip-hop groups to come out of Houston, Texas. They were founded by DJ Screw who introduced the world to the chopped and screwed sound that originated in Houston during the Third Coast era in the late 1990s, just before Houston’s big boom on Billboard in the early 1990s. 2000s. And for those familiar with Megan’s family history, her mother, Holly Thomas, was also an active rapper during that time. So for me, it’s not just paying tribute to her mom and her mom’s career as a rapper in Houston, but also the people who helped create that infrastructure and that foundation for Megan to shine.
“With Big Pokey and Lil Keke, you have Sauce Walka, who is a very popular rapper in Houston and the southern United States. I think most people were introduced to him because when Kanye West was in Houston, he actually took a picture with Sauce Walka, so he’s one to watch on his way out of town, and in his verse he makes a direct reference to DJ Screw’s ‘3’ N the Mornin’, which is an iconic song. When you look at Houston’s repertoire and all the artists who have come to Houston – I think a lot of Drake in particular – ‘3 ‘N the Mornin’ is the song that a lot of people say was their entry point. .
“[Megan] closes this album or one of the last tracks on the album with a tribute in an ode to Houston and also strikes up a conversation as one of the next rappers to really bring this sound into the mainstream.
On what makes Megan a good collaborator
“I really believe it’s that southern sweetness… [Beyoncé] is well loved by everyone in the industry. She is your favorite celebrity celebrity, and she always speaks with such compassion and love for her parents, her Beyhive. And I think she’s modeled for Megan in many ways how to navigate that stardom and how to uplift people and what you want your legacy to be. I think Megan is only 27, she’s always gone home and done philanthropy. Right? The “Savage” remix went straight to Bread of Life and a number of Houston nonprofits helping essential workers during the COVID pandemic. And when Megan recently graduated in December of last year, I believe she received something from the city government for her contribution. So not only is she paying homage to Houston through sampling, through collaborators, but she’s also doing the work to really give love to this hometown that made her the star that she is. .
On the song ‘Not Nice’
“During Megan’s meteoric rise, she went through so much publicly: the loss of her mother, the fact that she survived gun violence, and especially in that moment, she wasn’t even considered a survivor. There was so much controversy and back and forth online and even some people in the hip-hop industry were giving their opinion in their remarks and they weren’t from a place of love. She was used as a meme. Her pain was not believed. She was not believed.
“I think that’s one of the ways Megan can speak directly to anyone who’s criticized her. Even a common theme on this album is betrayal. She’s lost a lot of people in her life who were once close to her. I’m thinking of the termination of her relationship with Kelsey Nicole, who Megan says was also in the car that night. So you’re saying, yeah, she’s 27. She’s the superstar. But many of those who accompanied her left her alone, isolated her, betrayed her. And that’s why in this album… [we] listen to her talk about the sanity rate, the costs that come with being famous.
On the song ‘Anxiety’ and how Megan raps what she thinks
“Megan Thee Stallion came out of a time when social media was being used as a way for young people to express their feelings. You know, the rise of Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr and being so authentic and vulnerable with people. people. And that vulnerability is a strength. You also see her imitating that in her music, saying, “Although I might be this Grammy Award winner, this figure in pop culture, I still have a lot of love. anxiety, I still have mental health issues.”
“For me, the most telling lines were when she mentions Marilyn Monroe, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston: three pop culture icons who also endured so much hate and trauma from the media, the paparazzi. We we’ve witnessed everything that happened with Britney so recently and over the decades we’ve come to understand more about Marilyn Monroe and Whitney’s mental health issues so she’s telling you already at 27 I feel a kinship with those women who were also put on that pedestal and endured a lot. But I’m still here and I want you to know that you can have anxiety and, frankly, still be a bad bitch.
On Megan’s rapid rise from freestyle on Instagram to top the charts
“I have such love for her. We’re both 1995 babies and I live in Dallas, TX. One of her first viral freestyles was Megan in a short bob with her mom, Holly Thomas. And she’s freestyling in a parking lot in Dallas. It’s Dallas vs. Houston rappers. At the time, I remember everyone was tagging each other on social media. The comments were that Houston won. And in As a Dallas person, I hate to give Houston credit but they did it and Megan won. But you saw her capture every wave of social media virality that happened. I think of a certain number of female rappers in particular who got up because they were rapping freestyle and putting that on the internet and it was trending, it was pop, it was in the moment.
“Then when you compare it to the pandemic, we were all at home. We all wanted some kind of joy, some kind of happiness. And we got ‘Savage’ and we got ‘Savage’ [TikTok] dance to it that was done by this beautiful black girl whose name I can’t remember. But you had people around the world who were at home, who were dealing with COVID at the time. It was very unknown. There was a lot of alarmism in the air. There was a lot of violence and hatred in the air. But I could put on this short song, do this dance, and then my whole body was in this rhythmic movement. Tension was released, stress was released. When you look at someone like Megan, who in the midst of everything she’s been through, behaved with such grace, happiness and joy, she imitates that. So from her freestyles to TikTok “Savage”, I feel like people have sympathized with her and grown up with her.
“For people who have been there with her since day one, I remember her freestyling, her chord, and then when her breakthrough song, ‘Big Ol Freak’ finally hit Billboard. It was like seeing a friend win. The people who were with Megan, whether it was freestyling or “Good News”, had developed this relationship, which could also be parasocial. But this tenderness and admiration for someone who, in the midst of everything that, still evokes something in you Whether it’s vulnerability, whether you feel like the baddest girl in the room, she gives you all these multiple sides of herself because we are inherently multifaceted people.
Gabrielle Healy produced and edited this broadcast interview with Todd Mundt. Allison Hagan adapted it for the web.