Music

Why Megan Thee Stallion’s Next Album Is the Most Important of Her Career

On Monday (Feb. 5), Megan Thee Stallion clinched her first unaccompanied Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 with her scathing track “Hiss.” After a tepid response to her 2023 single “Cobra,” the Houston Hottie coiled and struck at her antagonists. The lyrical assault not only sealed Megan a must-needed tally in the win column amongst the hip-hop community but also her third No. 1 following 2020’s “Savage (Remix)” with Beyonce and Cardi B’s collab “WAP.” With the momentum swinging in Megan’s direction, her upcoming album will be the most crucial chapter in her story. 

This album is crucial for Megan, because she can finally move on from the Tory Lanez saga, with the mercurial hitmaker’s fate sealed after being sentenced to 10 years for the 2020 shooting. The turmoil from the attack fogged Meg’s ability to speed past the drama, as social media often poked fun at her and, in some cases, took Lanez’s side in the public drama. Though Megan enjoyed a fruitful year following the incident, which landed her three Grammys, including best new artist, she has likely yet to reach the apex of her career. 

Since her acclaimed 2020 project Good News, Megan hasn’t pieced together a formidable string of songs beloved by fans and critics. In addition, she has yet to lock in her first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 – despite coming close with Good News, which bowed at No. 2. Her following album, 2022’s Traumazine, debuted at No. 4, with 63,000 album-equivalent units, showing slippage from Good News that previously tallied 100,000 two years earlier. Tramauzine’s singles, including “Pressurelicious” with Future, also missed the mark, as did her subsequent records “Her” and “Ungrateful.” “Sweetest Pie,” her joint effort with Dua Lipa, enjoyed radio success, but it wasn’t enough to move the needle for Megan, spending just two weeks on the Streaming Songs chart.

Megan returned the following year and released “Cobra,” which debuted at No. 32 on the Hot 100 and vanished the week after. She and Cardi encountered a similar fate when they reunited for “Bongos”: Debuting and peaking at No. 14 on the Hot 100, the song failed to catch the same traction as its predecessor, “WAP,” in 2020. Even when she veered back into the pop lane alongside Renée Rapp for their Mean Girls record “Not My Fault,” the song has yet to reach the Hot 100. Megan’s distractions seemed to get the best of her: From the Tory Lanez saga to her fallout with ex-beau Pardison Fontaine to her back-and-forth court dealings with her former label, 1501 Entertainment, her attention has been too divided for her to build off her wins and recapture earlier momentum. 

For Megan, her spunky attitude and smash-mouth demeanor are why hip-hop drooled over her potential. Before 2020, the Tina Snow MC killed every feature she touched with her gruff raps and hard-nosed delivery. “Hiss” landed so well because Megan showed she could tap back into that hungry rhyme-slinger with heavy haymakers. If she can continue that energy and sprinkle her signature wit on further bangers, she can easily get her career back on track going into her next album. Already, Meg could be eying another big hit, after teasing a new song with 41’s Kyle Richh, which sounded pretty promising.

It would also be great if she opened her arms and collaborated with more fast-rising female rappers. On Traumazine, Meg worked with Latto on “Budget,” proving she has no issues working with other female MCs. Since she also likes teaming up with pop acts, she can call on a hybrid like Doja Cat, who can serve both bars and vocals on a platter, boosting the track’s appeal. In totality, if Meg can walk the tightrope of making hits with enjoyable rhymes, she shouldn’t have any issues toppling the doubters. Even in efforts to get fans excited again, it would be great to see her return to notable freestyle circuits like LA Leakers, and somewhere new like On the Radar, to show that even while she’s in the mainstream light, she can pivot back to the hip-hop staples just as quickly. To top off those efforts, to live up to her Hot Girl moniker, a summer release timed with a tour would work in a favor, considering she’s yet to dominate that season the way she would have wanted to before. 

Meg needs to deliver the next go-round because she’s losing ground on her spot. Her primary adversary of late, Nicki Minaj, has little to prove, with her career already solidified, especially after notching another No. 1 album with Pink Friday 2 last fall. Months later, she still has two Pink Friday 2 songs still lingering in the Hot 100 (“Everybody” and “FTCU”) and gearing up for the start of her world tour, which will be arena-driven. Meanwhile, her frequent collaborator Cardi B has found a different road to recent relevance, putting her remix stamp on underground hits like GloRilla’s “Tomorrow,” and FendiDa Rappa’s “Point Me to the Slut’s” and helping them go mainstream. 

Besides Nicki and Cardi thriving, Megan must also be aware of the surge of ascendant rappers who have broken out while she’s struggled to find her footing the past couple of years. Latto is finally in her rhythm, executing as both a cerebral MC and Hot 100 mainstay, notching a follow-up hit to 2022’s “Big Energy” with her piercing (and Cardi-assisted) “Put It on the Floor Again,” and also scoring a Hot 100 No. 1 with her guest appearance on Jung Kook’s smash “Seven.” Ice Spice is also knocking on the door of superstardom after an impressive two years, including four top 10 hits in the Hot 100 and four Grammy nominations this past year. Flo Milli is finally piecing things together and is enjoying the best run of her career with her current top 20 Hot 100 single “Never Lose Me.”  

To Megan’s credit, she remains a household name in music and is flourishing as a businesswoman, especially in the world of TV and entertainment. She’s hosted SNL and made cameos in Mean Girls, Dicks: The Musical, and Marvel’s TV series SheHulk. She also secured a first-look deal with Netflix, fully crystallizing her desire to be a multi-platform entertainment star.

While those wins are great, Megan, at her core, is a rapper, one who can walk into any cipher and bulldoze her way to the center. Now that she is paving her lane as an independent artist with the aid of Warner Music for distribution, and maintaining ownership of her masters — a feat rarely seen by a female rapper under 30. And once the post-“Hiss” fury dies down, she should have no more distractions. She hasn’t toured since 2019, and is consistently billed under artists with lesser name recognition on festival lineups. She has the catalog, the stage presence and charisma to make her a worthy headliner, which is why it’s important for her to re-establish her big-dog cred in hip-hop this year.  

For Meg, the ball is in her court, and all she has to do is show up and dominate the way we always dreamed she could on album number three. But she better do it soon, or else she risks letting a golden opportunity to totally change the conversation on her last few years slip away. 

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