Halftime Leisure

“Bongos” is a vibrant and celebratory farewell to summer

Published October 10, 2023

Courtesy of Flickr

A mere three years ago, lives were changed following the release of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s iconic single “WAP.” While the song’s release was met with controversial opinions from critics, the attention it garnered was undeniable. The dynamic duo redefined the cultural impact of female rappers, leaving fans of the two impatiently awaiting another collaboration.

Enter: “Bongos,” the vibrant and high-tempo answer to these longing cries for a sequel. 

Since the single’s first teaser on Sept. 5, fans were beyond excited. Not only did this track mark Meg’s official return to music after a brief hiatus, but it also signaled the pair’s return to stake their claim on the music industry with another potentially jaw-dropping collaboration. Fans weren’t sure what to expect from the cryptic yet colorful teasers, but one thing was certain: the girls were back.

On Sept. 8, “Bongos” was released alongside its official music video. Reminiscent of its predecessor, the track starts off strong with a simple yet catchy hook. As opposed to “WAP”’s heavier and deeper bassline,  “Bongos” starts at a much higher tempo with a rhythmic beat provided by the namesake instrument, mirroring its title.

The opening’s high energy carries throughout the single as Cardi enters, wasting no time as she jumps into a string of steamy lyrics. Like Cardi and Meg’s previous collaboration, “Bongos” does not shy away from embracing and celebrating its rappers’ radiant sensuality, evidenced by the risqué yet clever lyrics proliferating each verse. Even in its opening, lyrics like “N****, eat this ass like a plum (Plum) / This pussy tight like a nun (Nun)” are raw and fierce—a boldness that reflects the two artists themselves.

Whereas “WAP” solely takes pride in its sensuality, “Bongos” balances the sensuality and grandiosity of its lyrics, presenting an equally proud message of resilience in the face of bad-faith criticism and unnecessary hate—a sentiment that is most evident with Meg’s first verse. Backed by a lower drumline and stripped beat, she fiercely denounces her critics: “These hoes camped out in the comments / Always talkin’ like they know me (Ayy).” These lyrics carry even more weight amid the controversy surrounding Meg this past year; she stands tall through her music, rising above the unsubstantiated rumors spread about her as of late. 

Meg’s fans were quick to point out that “Bongos” is her first official production since her album Traumazine (2022), which was released at the height of the controversial Tory Lanez trial. While Meg herself had not personally sought charges against Lanez, she still received disproportionate backlash during the trial and following Lanez’s sentencing. During this time, Megan was vocal about the impact the backlash had on her mental and emotional health, which was only exacerbated by the explicit and implicit support Lanez received from some of rap’s biggest names, such as Drake and 21 Savage. Over the past year, Drake has been criticized for shading Meg and showing his support for Lanez on several occasions. In the song “Circo Loco” featured on Drake’s collaboration album with 21 Savage, Drake raps, “This bitch lie ’bout gettin’ shots, but she still a stallion.” More recently, Drake was again called out for throwing shade at Megan during his concert in her hometown, Houston, Texas. “I got to give a shoutout to somebody here who’s been with me since the beginning of my career,” he said in a viral video of the concert. “Her name is Megan … Real H-town love. Shoutout to Meg one time for real—not that Meg, this Meg.”

During interviews and the promotional livestream for the song, Megan shared how Cardi had been one of her biggest supporters throughout the controversy, solidifying the bond the pair has shared since their first collaboration. This friendship shines throughout the entire single, encapsulated in lines like “Bad bitch (Bad bitch) in real life (In real life) / Show me real love (Yeah, yeah), give a fuck about them likes,” as Megan expresses gratitude for those, like Cardi, whose unconditional loyalty far exceeded the superficial support seen on social media.

As the song climaxes, the pair exchange bars over a melodic break. Cardi and Meg complement each other perfectly, capitalizing on their individual styles while never outshining the other. 

Then, there’s the music video, which adds a dazzling visual counterpart to “Bongo”’s sonic brilliance. From the onset, viewers are bombarded with an explosion of color, tastefully depicting the tropical motifs within the song’s rhythmic beat. Furthermore, fans were stunned by the vibrancy of Cardi and Meg’s costumes, with the garments adding a beautiful touch to the simple yet fitting choreography. Each scene on the beachfront set is stunning as the rappers and their dancers come alive, dancing to the song’s infectious beat.

Here again, “Bongos” draws some similarities to its predecessor “WAP.” The music video for “WAP” similarly uses a plethora of vibrant colors and stunning choreography which pairs well with its lyrical intensity. Where these two videos differ, however, is in their visual thematics; while “WAP” plays more into textural and water-based imagery, “Bongos” takes a much more cohesive approach, leaning into its tropical imagery throughout the video’s duration. “Bongos” relatively more simplistic approach to its visuals allows viewers to connect more deeply with the single on first watch as the cohesion between the music and visuals through their shared tropical motifs allows for a more immersive experience. 

While “Bongos” was a few weeks shy of being the official “song of the summer,” there is no doubt that it delivered on everything fans hoped for and more. It is high-energy and clever, paired with stunning visuals and impressive choreography. Most importantly, however, “Bongos” is a celebration. A celebration of summer. A celebration of fun. A celebration of sex. Now, satisfied fans can rest while eagerly awaiting the next chance to see these two brilliant rappers work together once more.

Ajani Jones
Ajani is a Junior in the College majoring in Linguistics. He is the Executive Editor for Resources, Diversity, and Inclusion. He is also really, REALLY excited for the Percy Jackson TV show and will not shut up about it (still won't).

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