Album Review: Megan Thee Stallion – MEGAN

[Hot Girl Productions; 2024]

Megan Thee Stallion is having an amazing year. The Hot Girl Summer tour, her headlining debut, has been a victory lap after her years of hard work cementing herself and her fanbase. Her attempts at addressing more serious topics have been met with acclaim, attempts to slander her fell flat, she is an ambassador for the Paris Olympics, she is on the Mean Girls soundtrack, her list of collaborators continues to grow, she is undeniably a star. Now an independent artist, she is achieving greatness entirely through her talent and the world’s love for it.

Her music, however, has not been particularly focused on ease and triumph. The release of “Cobra”, the lead single from new album MEGAN, was a marked shift from previous hits like “WAP” and “Hot Girl Summer”. The larger-than-life hot girl coach traded pop-friendly hooks for a production with a rock edge and the liveliness unique to her, projecting a level of mask-off vulnerability that caught even those familiar with her more serious material off guard. Perhaps not the hit it should have been, the song still earned Megan widespread acclaim. What would eventually be her next #1 hit was in many ways a song riddled with even more tension than the previous one; “Hiss” may not be Megan’s first attack at her detractors, but in it, the suave confidence of “Thot Shit” was replaced by an impressive level of aggressiveness which she executes to perfection. Taken together, the singles seemed to indicate Megan was about to deliver the most aggressive work of her career.

That she did, for better or worse. Tracks like “Rattle” and “BOA” exemplify Megan’s ability to deliver a good hook and be charismatic or even funny, but rather than an accessory to her effortless cool in this record she is carrying her skills as weapons. An energetic track like “B.A.S.” walks the line between confident sexuality and aggressive confrontation. Kyle Richh presents an appropriately toxic match for the energy Megan brings to the excellent Jersey club hook. It’s fascinating to be shown a new side of the Stallion eight releases into her discography.

It’s a shame then that the music doesn’t always rise to the occasion. “Figueroa” sees the rapper deliver great flows and great bars at a level that makes you wish the production tried to be as interesting as her. Tracks like “Find Out” and “Broke His Heart” are competent in a way others might dream of, but barely keeps up with the amount of personality and energy the artist brings. “Otaku Hot Girl” attempts to bring Megan’s love for Japan into the mix, but the overbearing trap production muddles its uniqueness. The mid-tempo “Mamushi” executes the idea much better, as the off-kilter approach to the hook and her interplay with guest rapper Yuki Chibba allow her to make what would otherwise be a rather stiff song really come alive. At her best though, the artist can’t save a trap tune like the brash “Miami Blue” from redundancy within her catalogue.

If unoriginal tunes stick out like a sore thumb in a project by Megan Thee Stallion, it’s only because of how much she flourishes on a song with any amount of gravitas. “Paper Together” with UGK will forever remain one of her most notorious offerings, not only for being the first of the Pimp C verses she was given exclusive access to to be released, but because of how easily her performance rises to the level of the greats she is standing with. It proves definitively that in the long tradition of southern hip-hop Megan should be mentioned with the best of them. “Accent” with GloRilla is one of the most fun cuts on the album, with Megan loosening up and leaning into her now notorious chemistry with her collaborator. “Down Stairs DJ” is an ode to female masturbation that is mesmerizingly inviting as Megan’s voice glides over the synths. Between icons, a friend, and pleasure, it’s clear that as good as she is in transmitting tension, there is a unique quality to Megan when there is something to get out of her own head.

If the talent on display impresses though, it also makes the subpar tragic. “Spin” is the R&B collaboration that accompanies every Megan Thee Stallion record, and though Victoria Monét is a performer that cannot be praised enough, this overly simple tune is nowhere near as interesting as a pairing of these two rising stars should be. “Worthy” is a venture into pop with a production reminiscent of Katy Perry and the bubblegum empowerment energy one would have once expected of Lizzo. Harmless at best, it’s a very awkward addition to a Megan record centered around tension, especially when her last album repeatedly proved she can do this a lot better.

In the end it seems that, although Megan is having her most memorable year, MEGAN doesn’t really match her most memorable projects. The music doesn’t match a multifaceted generational talent, and the result is a record full of what feels like compromise. Nevertheless, the Hotties get many new great songs to enjoy, and Megan and her team get proof that the rapper can successfully take her sound in many different directions, even if that proof is interspaced with much more filler than it should be. If a main takeaway is to be had however, it is that how Megan herself remains interesting even when the music can’t match her – evidence that she has the exact talent that will make her one of the defining icons of her time.