The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
Next year, Megan Thee Stallion’s rollicking new album Good News will be the perfect complement to carefree nights out and liquor-fueled house parties. This year, however, it has the rotten luck to have been released into a nightlife-dulling pandemic, blunting its sharp nose for antics. That makes it a weird project to take in; on one hand, there’s intent to consider, while on the other, there’s context. They’re both always a factor in how music is listened to, processed, enjoyed, reviewed, or discarded, but in this case, how you view Good News depends on which aspect you give the most account. As it is, Good News is a breath of fresh air for a year that left many people feeling stifled and stuck indoors.
As a directive work of entertainment, it’s A1. Ever since entering the mainstream consciousness in 2018 with her fan-favorite EP Tina Snow, Megan’s been pretty consistent in offering her tongue-wagging status-quo-challenging brand of femininity and empowerment. She may only have one bag, but Good News demonstrates how impossibly deep it can get, expanding the range of classic 1990s hip-hop and R&B samples she can co-opt to her purposes (Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me,” Michel’le’s “Something In My Heart,” and yes, The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya” all make appearances). The production is absolutely stellar and Megan rarely misses a beat.
But as a historical document, a record of the state of the world as of its release, Good News seems mostly disinterested in speaking to the moment. The obvious exception, of course, is Megan’s head-on address of the most devastating event in her personal world: The July incident in which she accused fellow rapper Tory Lanez of shooting her in the feet. Fittingly set to the aforementioned Biggie classic, she defiantly dismantles his mewling defenses of his actions on the night in question and his frankly appalling counter-accusations on his own recently released project, Daystar.
“Talkin’ ’bout bones and tendons like them bullets wasn’t pellets,” she growls on “Shots Fired,” directly referencing Tory’s lyrics from “Money Over Fallouts” to undercut his objections. “A p*ssy n***a with a p*ssy gun in his feelings.” There’s a dismissive, almost perfunctory tone to the opener, almost as if Megan is exasperated she even has to address this nonsense still; this is her getting it out of the way so she can get back to being a hot girl. However, in the process, she inadvertently applies the same treatment to her Breonna Taylor callout toward the end of the song. With only one line devoted to the subject on pretty much the whole album, Meg leaves listeners with only her New York Times op-ed to find her comments on any topic deeper than twerking.
On standout tracks like “Freaky Girls” and “What’s New,” Meg judo flips patriarchal attitudes, turning the male gaze and its resultant criticism back on her critics. “Pussy n****s on the internet talk ‘bout some pussy they ain’t gettin’,” she sneers at them. Meanwhile, on “Go Crazy,” she steals the show from punchline pros 2 Chainz and Big Sean who turn in some of their funniest verses of the year (“Your ho just left, she a southpaw” sent me to heaven and back). And when Megan teams up with Juicy J — as she does on “Freaky Girls,” “Work That,” and “Outside” — their chemistry remains unmatched and every bit as potent as it was on Fever in 2019.
She even brushes up on the weak points from her spring EP Suga: The singing and poppier tracks that dragged down the back half of that effort. While they still aren’t her strong suit, she strategically scatters the dancehall-aping “Intercourse” and synth-pop reach “Don’t Rock Me To Sleep” to keep them from dragging the energy too far down. The latter is even a decent example of its particular species, it’s just not quite what you really want to hear this particular artist trying to do.
One thing you won’t hear her do here is address most of the noxious bad vibes from the course of this year. While you wouldn’t expect an album called Good News to sink too far into rehashing our various shared misfortunes, the “News” part does kind of entail some commentary on current events. That commentary is a no-go, though; the Breonna Taylor reference is about as topical as it gets. Whether that lack comes as a welcome break from the onslaught of terrible dispatches from the 24-hour doomsday documentary cycle or a critical failure on the part of the artist depends on your view.
This is where longtime readers might expect me to complain about the lack of depth on the majority of Good News, but to be honest, I think there’s a lot to be said for knowing your lane and staying in it. If literal legions of male rappers can get away with endless tributes to cars, chains, watches, and elaborate cocktails of drugs, surely Megan can serve up a collection of odes to her body — especially when they’re as well-executed and hooky as the song titled “Body,” which employs a Miami-bass-ish, uptempo drumline for her to chat about her “out-of-control” ass-to-waist ratio and love for herself (“If I wasn’t me… I would have bought me a drink”).
Megan takes enough steps outside her comfort zone to justify her staying in it, while she finds a truly astonishing range of ways to tackle her favorite subjects. If most of the songs here are club anthems they display a lot of variety — “Don’t Stop” is as different from “Body” as “Girls In The Hood” is from “Do It On The Tip” — and they get the job done; TikTok and Instagram are already swiftly filling with choreographed dance routines and confidence-building quotes inspired by Megan’s unbowed persona. If she can continue to pave the way for a wave of unabashed, uninhibited, empowered women with no use for the status quo, well then, that’s good news, indeed.
Good News is out now via 1501 Certified Ent/300 Entertainment. Get it here.
Megan Thee Stallion is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.