Megan Thee Stallion gives 2020 some ‘Good News’ for once – a first-impressions review
The first song on Megan Thee Stallion's highly anticipated Good News is "Shots Fired," which samples Biggie's "Who Shot Ya?" and addresses one of the biggest stories surrounding Megan this year: the shooting that left her with a wounded foot and that Tory Lanez has been charged in. Megan eviscerates Tory on the track, and it's understandably the song that immediately got people talking ("Shots Fired" was trending on Twitter within minutes of Good News' release), but Megan doesn't want this incident hanging over her album. It makes sense that she put it as the first track; she put the nail in the coffin right off the bat and moved on.
The shooting was just one hurdle that Megan overcame in what has been a monumental year for her. After emerging as one of 2019's two rap rookies of the year (alongside her "Cash Shit" collaborator DaBaby, who also appears on this album), Megan scored not one but two No. 1 hits in 2020: the Beyonce-featuring remix of "Savage" (which appears on this album) and the single most talked-about song of the year, "WAP" with Cardi B. She also used her platform to give a powerful SNL performance that called to "Protect Black Woman" and called for justice for Breonna Taylor (which Megan also does once again on "Shots Fired"), and then she elaborated on those themes in an op-ed for the New York Times, which is one of the articles pictured on the album cover for Good News. Good News is at least somewhat of an ironic title -- 2020 has been a year mostly filled with bad news and Megan is obviously well aware of that -- but it's also important to remember the good parts of this year, and one of the best parts of 2020 has been watching Megan Thee Stallion quickly go from a promising newcomer to a superstar. This all happened before she released Good News. Now the album is here, and it only raises the bar for her even further.
It would be impossible for the chaos of 2020 -- both within Megan's personal life and the world at large -- to not loom large over Good News, but Megan perseveres by being herself, by getting even better at being herself than she was in the past, and by putting some joy in people's lives with an album that's fun as hell to listen to. 2020 will be remembered for the pandemic and the widespread fight for social justice, but it will also be remembered for Carole Baskin jokes and viral TikTok dances, and this album has all of that. And 2020 will of course be remembered for "WAP." "WAP" isn't on this album (it will presumably be on Cardi B's 2021 album), but Megan brought the same energy to these songs that she brought to that one. Conservatives were appalled by it, but the song (and its video) served as an anthem of empowerment for so many people because it saw two influential women taking a positive approach to sexuality and taking ownership of their own bodies -- a refreshing contrast to the countless songs by male musicians about women's bodies and sexuality. It was also only "shocking" to those who had never listened to Cardi or Megan before. Megan's been cranking out sex-positive anthems for the past three years, and Good News feels like the culmination of everything she's done up to this point.
When Megan's pre-lockdown 2020 EP Suga landed in early March, it felt transitional. It birthed her biggest song yet ("Savage"), but you could tell Megan was testing the waters of what she might do next, rather than offering up a complete project. Good News is the opposite. It landed with a bang and it gets better with every listen. It already feels like the ultimate Megan Thee Stallion album, and that's saying something for someone who already released Fever and Tina Snow. It includes the two best songs she had previously released in 2020 (the Beyonce-featuring remix of "Savage" and "Girls In The Hood"), and it smartly tacks them on at the end, along with recent single "Don't Stop." If you've been following Megan all year, you know those songs inside and out, and on Good News, they feel like the much-deserved encore. They've carried her this far, but Good News isn't relying on them. It has plenty of other potential hits.
Along with the album release came a video for "Body," and it's easy to see why that one is being pushed as the next single. It's the obvious party song and it comes with a hook that you can memorize in one listen. You can already picture the TikTok dances that will be coming for this one... as long as people can keep up with her rapidfire delivery. (And in a world without a pandemic, this song would shake the floors of any club.) But Good News has a handful of other songs that sound ready to dominate the world too. "Do It On The Tip," which pairs Megan with the equally bold City Girls over a subwoofer-rattling beat from frequent Megan producer Lil Ju, rivals "Body" as this album's spiritual successor to "Big Ole Freak." Those are early standouts, but a whole album of loud, brash bangers like those would get tiring, and Good News also successfully goes in other directions. Megan gets a soulful assist from SZA on the Juicy J-produced "Freaky Girls," which is a little more laid back than "Body" but just as compelling. Megan expertly weaves her way through a Jazmine Sullivan sample on the soulful "Circles," she turns the brassy bounce of Webbie's "Bad Bitch" on its head with "Sugar Baby," and she flexes her singing chops while reworking Juvenile's "Rodeo" on the R&B jam "Work That." She also experiments with other genres like funk on "Don't Rock Me To Sleep" and dancehall on the Popcaan-aided "Intercourse." All the while, Megan proves to be an increasingly great rapper, capable of inventive flows, sticky hooks, knockout punchlines, and all the sex positivy you could ask for. Sometimes, she combines her sex positivity with her politics, like on "Sugar Baby": "Invest in this pussy, boy/support Black business."
Good News knows how to straddle the line between giving the people what they already want and trying out something new, and Megan changes things up enough so that the 17-song, 50-minute album never lags. If Good News has any parts that feel inessential, they usually come from people who aren't Megan. Verses from Lil Durk, Big Sean, and 2 Chainz are fine but they serve as little more than reminders that Megan released a better album than all three of them this year. Good News hasn't even been out for 24 hours, but expectations were very high going into this album, and it already feels like Megan exceeded them.
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