Traumazine is Megan Thee Stallion’s renaissance
The lauded rapper behind “Body” and “Hot Girl Summer” is at it again—leaving no heavy topics uncharted
By Gabe H.
Rarely does an album emerge that transcends time and convention. When albums are released, they are often tailored for a specific period in the artist’s life, a reference point that is exhausted alarmingly quickly due to over-saturation (Think, Adele’s 30 or Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy). But not Megan Thee Stallion’s most recent—and authentic—album to date, Traumazine.
Released on Aug. 12, 2022, Traumazine fearlessly delves into Megan’s storied past and uncovers her long withheld insecurities. Megan’s unsparing coverage of her various struggles—her mental health, the societal expectations of black women, discrimination in the music industry, and personal anecdotes about her late mother—are just a few of the powerful ingredients in her most ambitious album so far.
It’s only apt that an album that presents such hefty topics would mark a point of differentiation for its songwriter—a personal artistic renaissance in which the rapper’s creative potential becomes fully realized. “Trauamazine” serves as a triumphant revamping of Megan’s artistic image, where she shifts away from empowering themes and tackles more extensive societal issues. In her lyrics, which serve as a dynamic coalescence of raw musings and hot-takes, she solidifies herself as not just a rapper, but an artist with powerful command over her music.
In previous albums, Megan skirted around political issues, focusing instead on ideas of personal empowerment and sexual liberation. Traumazine takes an entirely different route. In track 3, titled “Not Nice,” Megan raps about the armor she has created in her public and private personas to be taken seriously. Boldly, she raps, “My skin not light enough / My dialect not white enough.” She continues detailing the colorism and objectification she’s withstood in various arenas as the song progresses, underlined by her titular rap “I’m not nice / I’m the s**t.”
In “Anxiety,” the album’s eleventh track, Megan comes clean about her struggles with mental health which may have been masked by the ease and confidence radiated through lyrics in her previous albums. With raw grit, Megan raps about not knowing how to seek help. “They keep saying’ I should get help / But I don’t even know what I need / They keep saying’ speak your truth / And at the same time say they don’t believe.”
The chorus of “Anxiety” takes on an optimistic quality, destigmatizing the concept of anxiety as a whole and speaking to the ubiquity of an emotion that renders so many isolated. She raps about having frequent “bad days,” but having the ability to “bounce back”, like a “bad b**ch.” Through “Anxiety,” Megan works masterfully at the intersection of vulnerability and empowerment, acknowledging her struggles while pledging to her resilience and tenacity.
The album’s twelfth track, “Flip, Flop,” echoes these sentiments in a seamless transition from “Anxiety.” Megan begins the song dishing about her mother and her feelings of isolation: “Behind this smile, I’m fightin’ these tears ‘Cause a b***h be sad as f**k (yeah) / Ever since my mama died, 2019 I don’t really know who I can trust.” The bulk of “Flip Flop” seems to build upon the lyrics of “Anxiety,” detailing the traumatic events that have shaped her as a person and artist.
While lyrics in Traumazine occasionally have a propensity toward repetition, the issue is remedied by Megan’s easy-to-dance-to-beats and eclectic backing tracks. As the heaviness of the first four tracks begins to reach a breaking point, Megan swoops in with a lighthearted and bubbly club track.
The album’s fifth and most playful track, “Her,” is underscored by a jubilant club beat that is admittedly impossible not to dance to. The song is devoid of depth or trauma-filled insight—the most welcome and wholesome respite in an album that leaves its unbandaged scars scattered about every other track. It creates a dynamic contrast, a radical dissonance; Megan juggles her agony in addition to her triumph.
For any other artist, meshing this level of sensitivity and triumphant boldness into 17 bite-sized tracks (“Sweetest Pie,” which was released on March 11 in collaboration with Dua Lipa, is a bonus track) would be somewhat of a daunting undertaking. But Megan Thee Stallion has proven herself. Traumazine is bold, defiant, searching, unapologetic, and shocking in all the right ways. Moreover, it represents a refreshing turning point in Megan’s evolution as an artist, and it’s a thrill to be along for the ride.