Megan Thee Stallion’s Traumazine Is a Kaleidoscope of Pain and Gain

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The post Megan Thee Stallion’s Traumazine Is a Kaleidoscope of Pain and Gain appeared first on Consequence.

Do not let the title of Megan Thee Stallion’s sophomore album, Traumazine, fool you — she is stronger than ever, even as she processes her pain through vulnerability. Honesty is at the heart of working through any kind of trauma, and Megan has decided to let us into her process.

Meg comes out swinging with “NDA,” finding pockets within pockets of the beat — one of her greatest assets as a rapper. “I ain’t perfect, but anything I did to any of you n****s, y’all deserved it/ You see me in that mode, don’t disturb me when I’m workin’,” she declares. She’s focused over the entire 51 minutes of the project, zeroing in on the intensity that pulsed beneath the surface of her earlier mixtapes Tina Snow and Fever.

Traumazine (released Friday, August 12th) is absent of obvious club bangers, which will please fans who have been looking for more dimensions from the rapper. On “Gift & A Curse,” Meg slides into infectious repetition on the chorus, then delivers one of her best, most political lines: “My motherfuckin’ body, my choice (My choice)/ Ain’t no lil’ dick takin’ my voice.”

Lines similar to this one can come off as gimmicky from an artist; an obvious grab at topicality. But there is no better and more believable person to defend women’s choices than Megan Thee Stallion, whose very name is an ode to the power and beauty of a body that has been commodified, scrutinized, and even worshipped.

Megan proves she has her finger on the pulse and is willing to experiment between showcasing her proven strengths. On “Her,” she utilizes house-inflected sounds, easily fitting in with the tone set this summer by her “Savage Remix” collaborator Beyonce. It’s a boastful track, and Meg has earned it. “The hate campaign ain’t workin’ at all/ I ain’t Jack or Jill, bitch, I ain’t gon’ fall,” she declares. At this point, Meg knows that defending herself is a battle worth fighting in her music (and beyond).

After allegedly being shot by rapper and singer Tory Lanez two summers ago, Meg has constantly had to rehash the distress that she experienced as a result of the attack. At one point, she even posted the X-Rays taken during her hospital stay, complete with visible bullet fragments in her foot. Under this same post — visual proof of the pain she was experiencing — were people still doubting that she was being truthful.

A few months ago, Megan opened up about the isolating nature of this experience. “In some kind of way, I became the villain,” she told Rolling Stone of her time advocating for herself in the court of public opinion. In embracing her vulnerability, Meg has also embraced all sides of herself, the villain included. She may never be free of the trauma, but it is hers to own.

As told through some of the tracks on this record, Meg’s ride to the top has been racked with other challenges, too. On “Anxiety,” Megan wonders if her mother, who passed away in 2019 and also served as her first manager, is proud of her despite the drama that has come with her success. One of the most heartbreaking lines of the entire album comes right after “Anxiety,” on “Flip Flop”: “If your mama and daddy still walkin’ this Earth/ Then you probably ain’t feelin’ my pain.”

Megan’s mother was not only a manager with years of industry experience as an artist, but also her role model and fiercest supporter. Meg lost her grandmother right after her mother, and her father passed away when she was a teenager. In the absence of the people she loves and trusts most, Megan is her own best advocate, and Traumazine is a testament to this principle.

Elsewhere, Megan displays her penchant for bringing out the best in her collaborators, molding herself to bring out the most recognizable aspects of their style. She matches Jhene Aiko’s brand of cozy-sexy on “Consistency,” makes a confident foray into neo-soul with Lucky Daye on “Star,” and gives Rico Nasty time to shine against the eerie backdrop of “Scary.” Her pop hit “Sweetest Pie” with Dua Lipa is a clear outlier on the album, slightly out of place but still a skillful display of her ability to be radio-friendly.

 

Notably, Traumazine also represents a contractual release. It’s the last in Meg’s deal with 1501 Certified Entertainment, which has proved to be another painful, public trauma. She’s been in a battle with them over the last two years in an effort to get out of her contract; according to label heads, her last project Something for Thee Hotties didn’t count toward her obligation. On Twitter, hours before the album’s release, Megan made no secret about the lack of support from the label, calling them out for mismanagement and a consistent lack of funds to market her projects.

A song like “Ungrateful” seems like it could be about a former flame, but with context, is better directed at typically shady industry shysters. Megan is absolutely tired of the “fake-ass, snake-ass, backstabbin’, hatin’-ass, no money gettin’-ass bitches.” She is hoping that this project will be her last for 1501, and despite her anger, it is clear that she wants to leave them with her best.

At the end of the day, Megan is a woman who contains multitudes: of emotions, of experiences, and of traumas. She’s lost people since the start of her fame, she’s been hurt physically and emotionally. The weight of being a Black woman in a world that still affords us little grace and all of the scrutiny is difficult, and almost impossible to fathom when magnified to a public scale.

Essential Tracks: “NDA,” “Not Nice,” “Gift & A Curse”

Traumazine Artwork:

Traumazine Artwork Megan Thee Stallion’s Traumazine Is a Kaleidoscope of Pain and Gain
Traumazine Artwork Megan Thee Stallion’s Traumazine Is a Kaleidoscope of Pain and Gain

Megan Thee Stallion’s Traumazine Is a Kaleidoscope of Pain and Gain
Zoe Jones

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