Continuing a torrid release pace, Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion delivers a thank you to her dedicated fanbase – in the form of some highly requested freestyles and outtakes from over the years – just under a year after dropping her debut studio album. While many of these tracks feel a little incomplete – the 21-track project doesn’t even break the 45-minute mark – there’s still something about the pockets that Megan is tapping into and dominating that is uniquely invigorating. While some of the previously unreleased tracks feel like they were unreleased for a reason, most of the freestyles here show a truly impressive command of the mic from Megan, coming up with Instagram caption-worthy punchlines on the spot and blazing through with a confident attitude. The project allows her to show off some of her technical abilities instead of aiming exclusively for hits. It’s not going to be as cohesive or measure up to her previous full-lengths, but it’s a nice surprise to be blessed with more of Megan’s undeniable delivery while it’s still fresh.
Southern rap legend Juicy J getting back into production so heavily lately has been incredible to witness, especially when we get to hear the new talent flowing over his old-school style that places so much more weight on the personality of the rapper in front of it. Megan wastes no time dropping some hilarious bars over a highly upbeat tempo with no space to breathe on “Tuned In Freestyle,” the hi-hats hitting double-time – outside of single “Thot Sh*t,” it’s likely her strongest performance on the whole project. Sending people to the gulag and calling herself a Charizard are bars that not many others could pull off. Megan’s relentless flow is on another planet in the industry right now, and it keeps up through the entire opening run of freestyles despite the instrumentals being more variable. “Megan Monday Freestyle” features a highly annoying beat of what sounds like a loop of off-key humming, and even though it’s hard to imagine returning to it, Megan still shuts it down with a speedy barrage of syllables. “Outta Town Freestyle” barely cracks a minute and feels far too short as well, but “Southside Forever Freestyle” is another excellent showcase for her quick mind and natural talents. Over a sample of a chilling melody from Rosemary’s Baby, she slows down a little but still finds some time to throw in some creative pop culture references and ways to build herself up as the queen of the game – something that tracks like these makes it hard to dispute.
The previously unreleased material kicks off with one of its most fun tracks in “Megan’s Piano,” which again feels like it should be much longer but Megan packs as much as she can into the brief runtime. Over a simple piano melody that she apparently played herself, she essentially brings back a more rhythmically involved and breathless version of the “Savage” flow, setting up each punchline with a pause and drawing out the ends of her lines, clearly having a lot of fun in the booth. Rappers with this much infectious personality are sorely missed in today’s landscape. “Eat It” is another one where Megan attacks the mic but it could have used a better beat, coasting over a pitched-up vocal sample that makes it sound like a little kid is contributing to the track’s salacious subject matter – the hook feels far too static for what she’s capable of as well, which sometimes happens when she forgets how naturally charismatic she is and shoehorns in edgy bars. “Warning” falls on the other extreme, Megan delivering her outlandish and titillating bars in a blustering belt that’s almost overwhelming. I almost wish tracks like “All Of It” weren’t on the tracklist and were saved up to built into something more robust on future projects – the track is a nice change of pace into a softer R&B direction, but it’s just a rather short verse in between a repeated hook as it stands. “Kitty Kat” brings another surprising and legendary name onto a project of freebies in JR Rotem, who delivers another delightfully old-school and high-octane instrumental for Megan to show off on – the pivotal Kelis reference fits in as well as she would have in that era.
The solid ideas get sparser as the tracklist begins to wind down, but there are still quite a few opportunities for fun moments that I’m glad we were able to receive. “God’s Favorite” and “Let Me See It” are both painfully short in length, but hearing Paul Wall say “real hot girl sh*t” on the latter is priceless and for what brief runtime “God’s Favorite” has, it packs in some of the most side-splitting bars on the project. “Opposite Day” is a little messy as well, but the sheer goofiness of Megan building an entire song out of the titular concept only makes her all the more lovable – Megan is scared of her rivals on opposite day. “Freakend” is the most downright scandalous track on a project with quite a few options to choose from – pray that Fox News doesn’t get their hands on this one – and is sure to connect with a certain subset of her listeners.
The project ends nearly as strong as it began. “Bae Goals” features a lavish 2000s R&B-style instrumental where Megan outlines her needs in a partner, picturing herself as eventually equivalent to some of the greatest couples of our times … minus the recently divorced KimYe, who might have stayed together if they knew this track was coming out. Megan’s singing has never been her strongest suit and she contributes a slightly awkward chorus to “Pipe Up,” but it resides between some more of the confident flex bars we love. One more impressive freestyle and the big single close things out, but she saves the best for last as “Thot Sh*t” might be the most boundlessly fun song of her entire career thus far – not only that, it’s nigh impossible to perform as Megan unleashes a technical clinic while still showing her huge personality with some of the year’s best punchlines.
While many of these tracks are far from perfect, it’s never a good sign for the rest of the game when artists release albums full of droplets that are better than some of their peers’ planned-out bodies of work. It’s not the polished Megan we’re used to, but it’s still a highly enjoyable early Christmas present.
Favourite Tracks: Thot Sh*t, Tuned In Freestyle, Kitty Kat, Megan’s Piano, Southside Forever Freestyle
Least Favourite Track: Eat It