‘Traumazine’ showcases why Megan Thee Stallion stands out in a growing pool of female rappers

The Houston native illustrates her musical versatility by effortlessly blending elements of R&B, pop and house music in her second studio album.

 The album cover for “Traumazine.” (Photo courtesy of 1501 Certified LLC)

1501 Certified LLC

The album cover for “Traumazine.” (Photo courtesy of 1501 Certified LLC)

By Marques Watson, Vanderbilt University

Despite the controversies that the Recording Academy has garnered in recent years, most artists and fans consider a Grammy Award to be one of the most prestigious accolades in music. Yet, many dismissed rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s colossal breakout year, in which she wrapped up with three golden gramophones–including the coveted Best New Artist award–as a fluke. To critics, she was poised to become the newest victim of the infamous Best New Artist curse: a trendy, yet temporary star whose popularity hinged on her viral hits and would fade into irrelevance as quickly as the TikTok trend she inspired

Two years after crossing into the public eye, her follow-up album, “Traumazine,” proves haters wrong by cementing Megan Thee Stallion as a musical force to be reckoned with for years to come. 

Part of what makes “Traumazine” so enjoyable is how Megan adopts a more radio-friendly style to satiate a new crop of listeners. Songs like “Gift and a Curse” and “Pressurelicious” tactfully transition from Megan’s signature boisterous, invigorating rap verses to catchy and repetitive choruses. Unlike her previous projects, which emphasize her ability to rapidly spit out verses, Megan Thee Stallion prioritizes musical versatility on “Traumazine” to make the most of her newfound fame. 

With this new style, Megan Thee Stallion has truly enabled herself to flourish as an adaptable, genre-blending artist. Slinky R&B backtracking weaved among the album’s blunt and exhilarating verses is reminiscent of artists like Doja Cat, who have found a musical niche by transcending traditional stylistic barriers. In fact, some of the more outstanding tracks on the album are “Consistency” and “Star,” where Megan employs smooth, intimate melodies in lieu of her conventional high-energy. The latter track reveals a goldmine of formerly untapped vocal talent hiding within the rapper. While her experimentation with R&B is by no means perfect–the production on “Ms. Nasty” is chaotic and ill-fitting with the rapper’s natural cadence–Megan Thee Stallion has overwhelmingly proven that she is not a one-trick pony. 

As if masterfully incorporating these R&B elements is not impressive enough, “Traumazine” also draws inspiration from the growing resurgence of house music, exemplified by the standout fifth track, “Her.” Recent efforts to replicate the club-like sound of this genre have been both stellar and disconcerting, but, luckily, “Her” falls into the former category. The chorus repeats the words “her,” “she” and “me” upwards of seven times, yet manages to be insanely irresistible thanks to Megan’s hypnotizing delivery and the track’s pulsating beat. 

In terms of the most surprising addition to the album, “Anxiety” has to take the cake. This track has no semblance of the assured and playful Megan we all know and love as she pens a heartfelt message about how fame has taken a toll on her mental health. The message behind the track is reminiscent of some of the most refined and respected emcees in the game, who embrace scathingly honest introspection for the sake of lyrical substance. The track alludes to a maturing, more polished figure lurking in the corners of Megan Thee Stallion’s otherwise cheeky persona. 

Overall though, longtime fans of Megan Thee Stallion have nothing to worry about. “Traumazine” is full of more traditional hip-hop tunes like “Plan B,” “Budget” and “Southside Royalty Freestyle.” However, the Houston native clearly embraces her evolution into a multi-faceted artist who floats somewhere between the confines of musical genres. With her ability to satisfy nearly every type of listener no matter how they stumbled upon her music, Megan Thee Stallion undoubtedly affirms that she is a polished professional who is here to stay.

This story was originally published on The Vanderbilt Hustler on August 16, 2022.