The new year always means new music from old favorites – and a few new faces. So while we await the next crop of LPs to land, let’s take a look at some of January’s most noteworthy singles.
J. Cole, “Middle Child”
Twitter was losing its natural mind Thursday night in anticipation of J. Cole’s new single. And while its arrival caused stans to YASSSS, I’m more like EHHHHH. As always, Cole delivers a solid lyrical performance (the final verse was especially strong) but the lukewarm trap production and needless autotune just made this feel, well, typical. Instead of breaking new ground, it’s just business as usual. Not bad, but I expect way more from Cole.
Rating: Thumbs in the middle, child
India.Arie, “What If”
India was one of R&B’s biggest names during the neo-soul explosion of the early 00s. She’s been mostly under the radar in recent years, despite still releasing music periodically. She’s currently gearing up for the February release of her next album, Worthy, and “What If” is the perfect track to celebrate Black History Month. It’s a pretty moving tribute to black pioneers, encouraging listeners to continue to uplift their banner. And instead of going through the motions, India brings a lot of energy to the midtempo track. The visuals are phenomenal too. India’s playing for keeps on her next album.
Rating: Thumbs up
Lucky Daye, “Karma”
Lucky Daye’s name night not ring a bell but trust, you’ll be hearing it more often really soon. After cracking our Top 100 R&B songs of 2018 list, Lucky returns with “Karma,” an obvious ode to Ginuwine’s “Pony.” While it’s certainly inspired by G’s smash hit, Lucky smartly differentiates the track enough to allow it to stand on its own. It feels more like an homage than a copy/paste job. Fun track.
Rating: Thumbs up
Chris Brown, “Undecided”
We’re gonna ignore the usual TMZ drama from my Cousin Chris for a moment and simply focus on his latest, which samples Shanice’s “I Love Your Smile.” Unfortunately, for me, this song fails where Lucky Daye’s “Karma” excels. “Karma” successfully builds upon elements from “Pony” to create a new track, but “Undecided” leans a little TOO heavily on the Shanice sample. The way the track is structured your ear expects Shanice to jump in with “I love your smiiiiiiiiiiiiiile” instead of Cousin Chris’ “undeciiiiiiiiiiided” hook. Of course, this won’t be a problem at all for younger listeners who didn’t grow up hearing Shanice’s record 400 times an hour in 1991. #OldHeadProblems
Rating: Thumbs in the middle
What do you think of January’s new tracks? Let us know below.