Mariah Carey and Miguel, “#Beautiful,” Lauryn Hill, “Neurotic Society” and more new singles

Over the past few days, some familiar faces have finally graced us with new music. Either those royalty checks are running low or suddenly everyone is getting inspired.

Of course, the question remains – are these new tracks any good? Glad you asked.

Lauryn Hill, “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)”

Are we still supposed to call her MISS Lauryn Hill? No matter, times have been tough enough for L-Boogie, who was just sentenced to three months in prison and three months of home confinement on tax evasion charges. I keep telling y’all, no matter who you are, you can’t fool Uncle Sam. His pimp hand is made of adamantium. Anyway, the only good thing to come out of this is that we’ve squeezed some new music from Lauryn. I’m not a fan of the 16-bit Mega Man-sounding production, but Lauryn’s lyrics are as fiery as you remember. “Sick psycho psychology, in desperate need of psychiatry/exorcism sobriety forcing social lobotomies.” All she needs are some stronger beats and she’ll be just fine.

Rating: Thumbs in the middle

John Legend featuring Rick Ross “Who Do We Think We Are”

Legend is one of those artists who either nails it or completely misses the mark. This is one of the latter. The track’s mellow vibe is a bit too dreamy and your mind starts to wander about halfway through. The song samples Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff,” so it should be no surprise when Rick Ross waddles through to brag about his sex appeal (ugh) and jewels on his Timbs (huh?). Same ol’ same ol’ with that guy. The track could have worked but it’s too lethargic for its own good.

Rating: Thumbs down

Jaheim, “Age Ain’t A Factor”

My boys over at were just asking about Jaheim’s whereabouts and he must have heard them, dropping his single less than 24 hours later. Maybe I should demand that Keith Sweat drop a new song so I can get instant gratification too.

Uh, pause.

“Age Ain’t A Factor” is classic Jaheim – a soulful, energetic jaunt that comforts ladies by reminding them that they only get better with age. Actually, it’s the easy yet electric vibe that John Legend should have aimed for. My only complaint is the occasionally goofy lyrics. “Since we in the kitchen, let me get that muffin/You look better the older you get, Benjamin Button.” OK, playa. The lyrics might be ridiculous, but Jaheim sounds great delivering them.

Rating: Thumbs up

Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu, “Q.U.E.E.N.”

I’ve been waiting for new music from Janelle for years now, ever since she dropped her near-classic The ArchAndroid. Her collabo with Ms. Badu is just as infectious as her earlier hits. Even when the track breaks into spoken word, the mood doesn’t drop. “Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I wanna love who I am.” But it’s still a party because they’re quick to remind you “The booty don’t lie.” It’s high-energy girl power. Now can we get a new album, please?

Rating: Thumbs up

Jay-Z, “$100 Bill”

This track should have been so much more. Jay is practically a financial historian on this offering from The Great Gatspy soundtrack, musing on the stock market crash, the Great Depression and other topics of wealth and poverty. The intentions are good but the results fall flat. I think he tries to throw too much at the listener in one sitting – his focus starts to wain and his direction gets muddled. It’s like a kid giving a report on Abraham Lincoln who talks about Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln logs and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I’m a hard core lover of lyrics but even I must say Jay tried too hard with this one.

Rating: Thumbs down

Mariah Carey and Miguel, “#Beautiful”

Mariah’s latest comeback has been filled with starts and stops but this might be the song that kicks things into high gear. #Beautiful is so good that I won’t even complain about the useless hashtag in the song title. MiMi and Miguel blend seamlessly; no goofy gimmicks, no childish lyrics, just a tried-and-true ballad with 21st century sensibilities. My only beef is that it sounds more like a Miguel song than a Mariah track but who cares when it’s this good? Mariah’s finally back on track.

Rating: Thumbs up

Agree? Disagree? Speak out on your favorites.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.