It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for a deluge of new music.
We’ve seen several notable singles in the past week – let’s break down the latest.
Kendrick Lamar featuring SZA, “All the Stars”
We’re just a little over a month away before the big release of Marvel’s “Black Panther,” a movie that I’ve been losing my mind over for years now. It was announced this past week that Kendrick Lamar and TDE founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith will be curating the soundtrack, so it’s in good hands. Kendrick takes the lead on the first single and it’s … fine, I guess. It’s a solid track – a little more poppy than Kendrick’s more recent releases – and certainly feels heroic. But besides the novelty of being the kickoff of what’s destined to be my favorite movie EVER, it’s not something that would grab me outside the context of the film.
Rating: Thumbs in the Middle
Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B, “Finesse (Remix)”
I know speaking ill of Cardi B is a criminal offense in Trump’s America (just go look at my mentions – I’ve been getting yelled at by 14-year-olds for a solid week for daring to say I wasn’t a fan) but this track just feels unnecessary. From a business sense it’s brilliant – add the hottest rapper on radio to a hot song that’s been virtually ignored by urban radio and watch the money pile up. You wouldn’t believe how many people think this song is actually NEW. But creatively, there’s not much to this remix – Cardi’s verse is (thankfully) pretty short and forgettable but weighs things down more than elevates. And the weird sonic tinkering on the back half of the song wasn’t needed either. Bruno is his usual awesome self, of course, and the video tribute to In Living Color makes my heart melt. I’m sure y’all will YASSSSSSSS CARDI until your lungs collapse but I’ll stick with the original track.
RIP to my mentions. Again.
Rating: Thumbs in the Middle
Xscape, “Here For It”
No one has been more excited about the reunion of Xscape than me. They’re not just one of the greatest R&B groups of the 90s, they imploded at the height of their popularity and left a lot of money on the table. It feels like there’s still gas left in the tank. But “Here For It,” title track of their upcoming EP, isn’t the Xscape I want to hear. Yeah, I know the “trap&B” sound is essentially the only type of R&B that finds its way to mainstream ears these days and I’m never against experimentation, but this just doesn’t work. At all. The ladies dumb their sound WAY down on this one, coming off almost as a parody instead of a legit track. Thankfully, they’ve released much better songs prior to this one so there’s still hope for their new EP.
Rating: Thumbs down
Eminem featuring 2 Chainz & Phresher, “Cloraseptic (Remix)”
Revival, Eminem’s long-awaited ninth solo LP, dropped smack dab in the middle of the holidays, so I didn’t get a chance to do a formal review. And while reactions to the album ranged from “total genius” to “total garbage,” as always the truth is in the middle – it’s definitely one of Em’s weakest albums but it had its moments. But nothing on that album is as good as this track. It’s a frantic, breathless remix that proves that when Em’s motivated he’s one of the greatest lyricists of all time. I wish we got more of THIS Em on Revival and less Emo Em.
Rating: Thumbs Up
Justin Timberlake, “Filthy”
Oh boy. When JT, Black Twitter’s favorite punching bag, announced that his upcoming album Man of the Woods would harken back to his Memphis roots the Think Piece Collective went ballistic, screaming that he was abandoning R&B and finally pushing his long-rumored country album on us.
Can y’all just WAIT until we here the album before y’all start whining? Ugh.
“Filthy” certainly wasn’t the Kenny Chesney track the Internet was expecting. But that doesn’t mean it’s any good either. The futuristic pop production harkens back to JT’s “SexyBack” days but the backing track is too overpowering. Timberlake’s vocals get lost in a sea of blips and grinding gears. It sounds like he’s trying to croon his way through the industrial factory level of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It’ll be a hit in the EDM clubs but, frankly, it’s a sonic mess. We’ll see what Man of the Woods brings in February.
Rating: Thumbs Down
What did y’all think of these new songs? Let us know below.