Ram Jams: ‘Good News’

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COURTESY OF 300 ENTERTAINMENT RECORDS

By GRACE MUNSON

Genre: Hip Hop

On a Playlist With: Flo Milli, City Girls, Leikeli47

Megan Thee Stallion has had a newsworthy year.

Following the success of 2019’s “Fever,” a mixtape that ushered in an era that will forever be remembered as the original Hot Girl Summer, the Houston rapper released “Suga” in early 2020, an EP that provided a fun and upbeat soundtrack to counter the scary, early days of the various stay-at-home orders issued across the world.

Then, in July, something confusingly dark happened. It was a major shock, given that Megan’s public persona throughout her rise has generally been confident, happy and carefree. Rumors began swirling about an incident between Megan and rapper Tory Lanez involving a gun that left Megan with a foot injury, but the parties involved weren’t talking. After weeks of speculation, Megan published a statement on her Instagram account that confirmed that she was indeed shot. 

2020 has been a tumultuous year for Megan Thee Stallion. As successful project releases have happened, so have tragic events, the shooting situation being one that led to harassment and distasteful jokes.

Now, four months later, Megan has released “Good News,” her debut studio album. Despite all of the recent vitriol thrown her way as a result of some people not believing that she was the victim of this traumatic event, the album is not saturated with songs of sadness or pain. Megan chooses an alternate path — “Good News” exudes optimism, self-assuredness and power. 

Megan opens the album with “Shots Fired,” a track that delivers a strong blow to Lanez, explosively addressing his claims while emphasizing that she doesn’t need (or want) him around. The beat and the diss track format reference The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya?” one of many callbacks to previous eras of hip hop history throughout “Good News.” 

Megan proves her lyrical prowess immediately, her strong delivery reminding me of her many Twitter-viral freestyles over the years, often featuring her in her car, having fun while spitting clever and provocative lyrics over an accompanying beat.

The second track, “Circles,” is a highlight of the album, a musically snappy but lyrically bittersweet track that recounts some of her recent personal tragedies, noting, “bullet wounds, backstabs, mama died, still sad.” The song is a fantastic mix between very personal and vulnerable musings in harmony with a hook meant to be screamed in the car, reminding those listening that they shouldn’t be “going back and forth with the lil’ boys.”

With this album, Megan is able to let her feelings out — her happiness, her sadness and everything in between, and she does a fantastic job at it.

Several songs stand out for their danceability: “Body” is an ode to body confidence heavily influenced by New Orleans Bounce music, and “Girls in the Hood” is a catchy reworking of Eazy-E’s classic “Boyz-n-the-Hood” with some added production elements to make the beat sound more current. 

Some of the collaborations generated high points of the album, especially “Freaky Girls” where SZA delivers a melodic and catchy chorus, and “Go Crazy,” where Big Sean and 2 Chainz’s verses both compliment Megan’s confident delivery well. The most well-known track from the album is also a strong collaboration — in “Savage Remix,” Megan and Beyoncé team up to deliver a smooth and memorable ode to their Houston roots that went mega-viral on TikTok.

Some of the other collaborations end up being forgettable and add unnecessary weight to an album that Megan carries well on her own. “Cry Baby” featuring DaBaby isn’t as strong as “Cash S—,” a previous collaboration of theirs from Megan’s project “Fever.” “Do It on the Tip” featuring City Girls is a relatively boring song, which is quite unfortunate considering the fact that independently, City Girls have been at the wheel of smash hits like “Act Up” and “Twerk” during their relatively recent rise to fame. 

Still, these songs don’t ruin the momentum of the album — both tracks are then followed by “Sugar Baby,” a lighthearted and amusing song with an infectious early-2000s-Southern-rap-inspired beat.

The only real low point in the album is “Don’t Rock Me to Sleep,” a song that sounds less fit for an exciting, provocative debut by a clever and confident lyricist and more fit for an Old Navy commercial.

Following solid tracks “Girls in the Hood” and “Savage Remix,” the album closes out with “Don’t Stop” featuring Young Thug, a song that doesn’t really stand out lyrically but whose production absolutely draws attention. The electronic beat sounds more like something out of Vince Staples’ “Big Fish Theory” rather than Megan’s usual sound, but it’s exciting. As an album end track should, it makes me want to hear what’s next from her.

As it has for everyone, 2020 has been a tumultuous year for Megan Thee Stallion. As successful project releases have happened, so have tragic events, the shooting situation being one that led to harassment and distasteful jokes being hurled at Megan as she recovered. 

In a very timely and powerful tweet, she said, “Black women are so unprotected & we hold so many things in to protect the feelings of others w/o considering our own.” Beyond the fun and provocative lyrics that have become Megan’s signature at this point, “Good News” feels cathartic. 

With this album, Megan is able to let her feelings out — her happiness, her sadness and everything in between, and she does a fantastic job at it.

The Bottom Line: Strong album with some filler, but also with more than enough hits to make up for it. Stretch knees before listening.

The Peaks: “Circles,” “Freaky Girls,” “Savage Remix,” “Shots Fired”

The Valleys: “Don’t Rock Me to Sleep”

The Verdict: 8.5/10