How CHILOMBO & SUGA Expressed Duality: a double album review

On March 6th, both of my favorite artists released their highly anticipated projects. R&B songstress Jhene Aiko dropped CHILOMBO and Rapper Megan Thee Stallion dropped SUGA. As the masses awaited these two projects, the lighthearted jokes of their same time release flew off twitter. Mainly addressing the idea of being as some described, an “emotional bad bitch” after listening to both albums. It was pretty funny thinking about the oxymoron, emotional bad bitches? I mean yeah, bad bitches are definitely allowed to have feelings, but “bad bitch” isn’t typically known to be synonymous with having deep feelings. Regarding the twitter jokes, people consider Jhene Aiko’s intimate ballads to be all about her constant themes of expressing intimate feelings and life’s up’s down’s, while Megan Thee Stallion’s music is perceived to be sex-positive and cocky (not that it was ever considered a bad thing, at least to me), her music would definitely have many asses jumping within an instant. After making the time to listen to both albums, it was made clear to me that both artists cracked the code of duality.

Duality: An instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something

It is clear that both artists are pretty different from each other, both genre-based and artistically, but both of their individual projects projected a healthy sense of balance—again, that sense of duality.

Jhene Aiko is an R&B singer who has been out as early as 2002. She is famously known for her earthy, emotionally strong, and intimate lyrics. As a true Pisces, she can transcend painful emotion into art like one of her famous singles like, “The Worst”. She’s also colored into themes like spirituality with her song, “Ascension” featuring Brandy. Although, she has made her refined mark in music being no stranger to getting a party started with songs like, “Sativa” featuring Swae Lee and her familiar verse on Omarion’s Single “Post To Be”. I mean, we will truly never forget that she told niggas, “—but you gotta eat the booty like groceries!”. Aiko is clearly no stranger to balance, she has never struggled with balancing both her ethereal persona along with her fun freaky girl side. As a fan, I was very excited to listen to CHILOMBO! With some background on the title name, she says the name is her father’s given name which is a nod to their African roots, meaning “Animal”. It was pretty clear that she has furthered into some type of spiritual growth and her connection to that name. Playing the album it was both serene and carried a sense healing— just as she intended. “I put sound healing into every track. I played sound bowls that are intended to resonate with the different chakras in your body”, As Aiko explained in a Billboard Music interview. I was really happy to know that she intended for her listeners to gain some type of healing; as a person who has studied the eight chakras while doing my own transforming work, it gave me some type of satisfaction to understand that she’s using her platform in such a healing manner. Tracks that definitely resonated with me (in no specific order) were “Mourning Doves”, “Pray For You”, “Magic Hour”, and “One Way Street” featuring Ab-Soul. Aiko also made sure to satisfy her listeners with her ego-fulfilling songs like “B.S.” featuring another R&B favorite H.E.R.Flex on my Ex, in my model X”, she just knows how to be real! Everyone knows it’s human nature to enjoy the feeling of doing better, as your past counterparts bare witness. She also made “Tryna Smoke”, the number of times I’ve replayed that song is slightly criminal, but I’m grown and no one’s going to beat my ass about it. A lot of people like “P*$$Y FAIRY (OTW)” as well, it wasn’t my personal favorite but it’s a cute song with some off-color lyrics. As mentioned before, balance; Jhene Aiko does duality very well, and I think it’s one of her strong suits. She can help us tap into our inner emotional and spiritual blockages all while still acknowledging the many humanly factors we all face. This album was very good— to me! Instead of wallowing in this pit of misery, this album proved that she’s been working on healing and growing— something she is inspiring her listeners to do as well!

I’ve been rocking with Megan Thee Stallion since my undergrad days, around 2016, my best friend and I were in awe of her local cypher freestyles and have been hooked since. As time passed, we all witness Megan’s hard-working climb up the success ladder. As an individual, Megan thee Stallion’s music has definitely aided in a boost of my already existing self-esteem. With her strong themes of braggadocio–

Braggadocio: boastful or arrogant behavior; one of the main elements of hip-hop music

–and sex-positivity, she makes sure her listeners understand to recognize that you are THAT BITCH. Throw on a Megan track and you’re guaranteed a thrown ass— she just knows what’s she’s doing, and I’m absolutely okay with it. Megan released her project, Tina Snow, in 2018 with her very successful single “Big Ole Freak”. The title says it all, the song itself had listeners embracing their sexuality with warmth— which I think was very important because for some reason it’s taboo for women to like sex… but of course, when it comes to black women being beautiful, confident, and owning her sex life, people can not stand to completely grasp the idea of it. Megan inevitably ruffled feathers with the qualities previously mentioned being the central theme of her music. People hate to see a black woman knowing exactly who she is and having power over her own pussy. It’s unheard of in some people’s lives— disregarding their distaste for Megan, we don’t care and of course, continue to support Megan Thee Stallion. Megan herself has heard the negative feedback the opposite counterparts have shared, and what I like the most about her is that she loves to prove people wrong. Despite her current label problems, she surprised dropped her recent project, SUGA, where she also projected her duality. She was able to deliver her ass-shaking bops and we got to see more of her emotional side that many people probably assumed didn’t exist.

Before I go into detail, Megan has teased some parts of her emotional side in her earlier projects like, “Big Drank” from her mixtape Tina Snow

SUGA was said to be more of a serious project for her, she explained more about her project on her Beats 1 interview with Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning’s main host, Ebro. She yanked wigs with hard-hitting bars and crooning melodies. With tracks like, “Ain’t Equal”, “Savage”, “Rich” and “B.I.T.C.H”, reminding her opposition that she strongly defines herself, she will remain THAT bitch and will remain unapologetic about it. She even proved that she CAN indeed switch up her flows on “Captain Hook”. Megan finally opened up to us on “Crying in the Car” sharing that she invariably reflects on the painful sacrifices she’s made to get where she is now. A song that I definitely resonated with, after working hard and outgrowing people on the journey of evolution— the feeling can sometimes be more bitter than sweet. Personally, I think “Crying in the Car” should be added to the common self-made “hustler girl” playlist— shit does get a little sticky when you’re climbing and trying to maintain, but we all know at the end of the day it’s the price of success. She talks about enjoying the fruit of her labor in “Stop Playing” featuring Gunna and “Rich”. Lastly, she gets more intimate with her last track, “What I need”. We are all very used to Megan reminding us that these niggas are indeed replaceable, listening to this song was pretty reassuring because again, as said for Jhene Aiko, women ARE human beings. Niggas that we care about DO get on our nerves (and vice versa, but shut up). Megan Thee Stallion showed us she too carries the language of duality in SUGA, which is also said to be her alter ego, along with Tina Snow (her ode to her Idol Houston’s late rapper Pimp C’s alter ego, Tony Snow). Still allowing us to celebrate as hot girls whilst emotionally addressing our numerous efforts to keep up the good and hard work.

To conclude, these two amazing women brought something musically distinctive to the table. One is an R&B songstress and another a tenacious Rapper; both of their projects presented different sides of themselves, reminding us that duality is a necessary and beautiful thing. We as human beings do carry light and dark, it’s the acknowledgment of both those energies we should do better at expressing. Jhene Aiko and Megan Thee Stallion did it, we could too! We should express it through art and most importantly through our lives. Let this be a wonderful example of how to live healthily with duality. Balance.

Thank you for reading.

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