Let’s start with last night where the category was “Body” when Megan Thee Stallion hit the stage at the American Music Awards. After releasing her debut album, Good News, on Friday, she chose one of the standout tracks to perform for the first time. It’s not always a great idea to perform a song most people have never heard at an awards show, but I think this time it worked. Before launching into the braggadocios “Body,” she delivered a spoken word declaration of self-love.
“I love my body
Every curve, every inch, every mark, every dimple is decoration on my temple
My body is mine, and nobody owns it but me
And whoever a chose to let in, is so lucky
You may not think my body is perfect, and it probably never will be
But when I look in the mirror, I love what I see
So are you ready?”
She was laying out the rules of admission for this performance, a performance where she showed once again she’s got the strongest knees in the game. Megan’s quickly becoming known for delivering high energy show-stopping sets (a must-get for increasingly snooze-worthy award shows). That’s partly thanks to JaQuel Knight, the man who choreographed “Single Ladies,” “Formation”, and Beychella. He did his thing in the “WAP” music video, and served as the creative director behind Megan’s SNL performance in October. He’s super talented and Megan’s super smart for teaming up with him as she continues to cross over from the world of rap to mainstream. Like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B before her, creative direction is essential.
The music video for “Body” (also choreographed by JaQuel) arrived on Friday, kicking off Megan’s album release weekend. Before the video premiered, Megan told fans to expect strong women of all body shapes owning their sexuality and “doing the damn thing.” The video features a whole lot of ass-shaking and cameos by Black Chyna, Jordyn Woods, rappers Malibu Mitch and Asian Da Brat, model Tabria Majors, and Taraji P. Henson. Taraji was also on hand hosting the AMAs where Megan won Favourite Rap/Hip-Hop Song for “WAP.” Is the AMA connection how Taraji ended up in the video or is Megan just a fan? Either way, Taraji looks like she had a blast shooting it.
“Body” is currently my favourite track from Good News, but the album isn’t all about shaking your body-ody-ody. Although, as the title suggests, the album’s common thread is positivity, Megan puts aside her super sweet reputation on the first track, “Shots Fired.” It’s as if she’s talking directly to Tory Lanez, but never mentions his name as she briefly addresses the shooting incident and then lays into her feelings about the fallout, including calling out her friend who was there that night, whom she believes is lying on behalf of Tory. There’s a sense of don’t take my kindness for weakness, as she alleges Tory would have been indicted right away if she didn’t try to protect him from the cops the night of. Saturday over on Twitter, some people didn’t like that Megan addressed the situation on her album, but the intro on a rap record is almost always the most biographical track. How could she not address one of the biggest moments of her year? Let’s not forget Tory made a whole album talking about the incident, calling Megan a liar.
Once she’s got the housekeeping squared away, she moves on to party records, stories of sex positivity and boys who just can’t measure up – so all my favourite subjects and Megan’s sweet spots. The second track, “Circles”, is the perfect chaser following “Shots Fired”, and it’s going to be my anthem going into 2021. It’s all about bouncing back, with a sample that’s reminiscent of the way Drake sampled Lauryn Hill on “Nice For What.” And if you’re looking for witty Instagram captions, listen to “Sugar Baby.” Any line you pick from that song will be a winner. This is one of my personal faves:
“He can call me lame, and he can get an attitude
But I still ain’t doing nothing I don’t wanna do”
To be clear. She’s talking about sex. She won’t be forced to do it, nor will she do it out of guilt or pity. It’s when she wants to and only when she wants to. This album has Meg asserting her power more than ever before. Maybe that’s because of the incidents in her life this year, or maybe it’s the Black women she’s seen on the news who’ve had their agency taken away from them. Megan comes at the conversation around agency from the perspective of sex, but that doesn’t make the message any less potent to me. Sex is so universal. “But I still ain’t doing nothing I don’t wanna do” works in every context of your life. Sex is the message, but it’s also the messenger for so much more.
The album gets a little disjointed in the second half. There are a few tracks I didn’t bother downloading, but overall it’s a great body of work. Megan’s put out a lot of mixtapes and EPs, but this is finally her debut album. We can argue about how much a “debut” album means these days, in the era of streaming. But she still sees it as setting the tone for her career. I’m glad she decided to give us some Good News and not an album full of resentment and hatred. I’m sure that album is sitting somewhere on the cutting room floor, but selfishly I didn’t need to listen to that in 2020. We’ve all have enough downers, I’m only seeking out uppers these days. This album is a continuation of the positive vibes she’s radiated thus far in her career, but we also get windows into mourning the loss of her mother and grandmother, fallouts with friends and grappling with the ups and downs of rising to fame. The album isn’t about touting her big wins, despite that fact that she’s got a lot to celebrate, it’s about how she’s learned from her losses and now she’s ready to rebound with her biggest wins yet — that’s the real Good News.