Album Review: Megan Thee Stallion – Good News

[300 Entertainment; 2020]

Although Good News is Megan Thee Stallion‘s first full-length album, it doesn’t feel like a debut. Arriving in the wake of several releases and countless show-stealing features, Good News is a shining culmination of all the work Megan’s put in, yet it avoids being weighed down by the sense of too many cooks in the kitchen. This is Megan’s creation, and she’s not leaning on anyone but herself. 

Having been shot earlier this year by Tory Lanez, who ducked accountability and released an album as a tone-deaf response, Megan talks about precisely what everyone wants to know, right off the bat. Opener “Shots Fired”, with its “Who Shot Ya?” sample and Megan’s indignant flow kicking in before Buddah Bless’ production has even started, shows exactly what this album is, and, more importantly, what it isn’t. Megan isn’t going to entertain nonsense from anyone, least of all anyone who’s hurt her the way Tory Lanez did. Debunking accusations of snitching and calling out her and his allies, she delivers constant mic drops while never losing her grip.

Megan sounds confident on Good News, proudly projecting her voice, whether she’s going for a more conversational flow or doing amazing vocal acrobatics, like on the back half of “Work That”. Her lyrics deserve that kind of self-assurance. While there are plenty of great one-liners to be found, Megan’s best songwriting quality is how she presents and explains her philosophies, including setting rules for people involved with her and offering advice. On “Circles” she’s teaching protection skills for women in relationships; the information isn’t anything you couldn’t find on plenty of websites, but a listicle isn’t going to give you Megan’s passion, rapping like she’s made it her mission to help anyone who needs it.

Much of the focus on Megan’s music previously has been about how much she talks about sex, and that’s already one of the main talking points around Good News. Never mind how many male rappers can have specialized topics (including sex) without being branded as having limited range, Megan discusses intimate moments in ways few can. On the Juicy J-produced, SZA-featuring “Freaky Girls” she claims, “If my pussy was a beach / he get swept up by the tide.” It’s a strained metaphor on paper, but it never sounds awkward thanks to Megan’s delivery and timing. She also earns genuine laughs in multiple moments, like when a partner’s excitement turns a would-be sex tape into a social media story. 

You can imagine the club-set video as you listen to “Freaky Girls”, and how many dance venues will have these songs blasting from their PA systems in the mythic post-pandemic future. There’s likely no way to listen to this and not have the hook to “Body” stuck in your head for at least the rest of your life, like it or not. Besides Beyoncé on the chart-topping “Savage Remix”, which manages fits well in the tracklisting, “Sugar Baby” is the closest Megan comes to having the show stolen from her – although not by another rapper or singer, but Helluva’s neon-lit synths, which support another great show from the rapper as she once again cuts through bullshit. The production on Good News is hardly subtle, and few of these beats would stand out on their own, but they’re effective at supporting her flows and keeping the energy going.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the moments when the energy starts to dissolve that Good News is at its weakest, relatively speaking. “Intercourse” has a beat by Mustard and a feature by Popcaan that are both too sleepy to be arousing. Immediately following this is “Go Crazy”, which revisits the Tory Lanez situation, but suffers from a hook that fails to do what the title suggests and decent but unconnected features from Big Sean and 2 Chainz. Rounding this trio out is what’s likely to be the most polarizing track of the entire album; “Don’t Rock Me To Sleep” finds Megan singing on an R&B song with some electropop flourishes. It’s mostly serviceable, save for the hook that’s centered around “Blah blah blah,” but it’s not playing to Megan’s greatest strengths.

Thankfully, the Juicy J-produced “Outside” is up next, and it’s both one of her finest achievements and a logical place to end the album – yet there are three more songs (“Don’t Stop” is fun but it doesn’t exactly scream ‘closing track’). On “Outside”, Megan speaks out for herself like she’s making her last stand; its lyrics could fit into any of her more trunk-rattling cuts (“I checked your bitch out and she basic, that’s why she hatin'”), but here, they’re like new sources of resolve as she strives to protect herself and anyone like her. She’s Megan Thee Stallion, not a one-trick pony.