It hasn’t been long, yet the new year has already seen a few big-name artists drop new music. Here’s a review of last month’s top five releases by those artists.

The WIZRD – Future

It’s no secret that Future was in a fantastic place while crafting his newest album. He kicked lean, fell madly in love, and had a project on the way he felt incredibly confident about. In fact, these were his words in an interview with XXL:

The album’s so so crazy,” he said. “I’m inspired, man. I’m so inspired. I got inspiration from everywhere. This is about to be my greatest album of all time right now, you know what I’m sayin? Well to date. It’s going to be one of my best albums… watch this.”

Well, the man called his shot. Whether or not the project is actually Future’s best to date is up for argument and, ultimately, a matter of opinion. However, what’s not debatable is that after dropping on Jan. 18, The WIZRD debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It was the fifth straight Future album in a row to reach that mark.

The Atlanta native displays some enjoyable versatility on his new project, from bangers like “Jumpin on a Jet” to more mellow groves like “Rocket Ship,” and plenty of vibes in between. The WIZRD also includes a great deal of sound, vocal rhythm and beat production that align with what orignally got the 35-year-old to where he is now.

“Crushed Up” led the album on the charts at No. 43 on Billboard and was followed by seven others in The Hot 100, including “First Off” (47), which features Travis Scott. Also linking with Future on The WIZRD were Yung Thug and Gunna, who teamed up for “Unicorn Purp,” a must-listen.

Middle Child (Single) – J. Cole

The North Carolina native made it clear that this year will be a tough one for haters. In making true on his prophecy, J. Cole started off 2019 with a single, “Middle Child.” The track debuted at No. 26 but climbed to the No. 4 spot, making it the 34-year-old’s highest charting song to date.

Per usual, Cole toys with the beat in his new release, spitting message-laden bars in his rightfully revered, relatively laid-back sounding voice. He seems adamant about proving a point in his lyrics, reminding listeners of his position in the game and dissatisfaction with the state of the industry. The “No Role Modelz” artist also seems to take some jabs at “OGs” who came before him, perhaps most particularly Kanye West, although he does not specify.

Cole’s latest demonstration of his impressive lyrical skills is evident on the verses of his new single, but the hook is also just as noteworthy. Over the melodious beat, Cole utters a memorable hook that promises to stick in people’s heads.

All told, it feels extremely safe to say that J. Cole fans should stay tuned in 2019.

We All Shine – YNW Melly

Expectations were high for Melly’s newest project after his debut album, I Am You. Now, 28 weeks after its release on August 3rd, the project remarkably peaked on the Billboard 200, and continues to climb. That jump, in addition to the success of newly-released We All Shine, undoubtedly indicates the illuminating future of the 19-year-old.

Melly was arrested for marijuana possession in Vero Beach, FL on January 3rd, but that didn’t stop his newest project from dropping on January 18th and debuting at No. 27 on Billboard, which is quite the jump from his debut album.

With that said, if I Am You was Exhibit A, perhaps we can call We All Shine Exhibit B. It’s hard to find anything on We All Shine that matches the excellence Melly displays on I Am You. Melly has an incredibly wonderful, innate ability to use his voice as the instrument, which means he can practically yell anything into a microphone and have it be worth listening to. That’s why his new project deserves recognition; however, when it comes to storytelling and the catchiness of his hooks and cadences, We All Shine feels kind of like a movie sequel that just couldn’t meet the quality of what came before it. 

It should be noted that there is no knocking going on here, as the new project landed the No. 27 spot for a reason. I’d say be sure to give listens to “No Heart,” “Beat A N*gga Block” and “No Holidays.”

Bawskee 2 – Comethazine

Early in his career, the St. Louis-born artist decided to make his music more “ignorant” in the hopes of gaining more traction. What followed has been the emergence of a unique, captivating persona behind his rather distinguishable, “ignorant” music – music that still has the ability to get listeners out of their seats and vibing. On occasion, Comethazine certainly might come off as “ignorant,” but the 20-year-old is developing an image welcoming of controversy, impossible to ignore.

On Jan. 11, the “Walk” artist dropped his sophomore album, which debuted at No. 61 on the Billboard 200. It’s only 17 minutes spanning over ten songs, but Bawskee 2 carries far more than a brief album’s worth of hype.

Simply put, fans of the 20-year-old had to have been left pleased after listening. Comethazine returns on his newest project with more unorthodox (yet catchy) cadences over unique, distorted beats that bump hard. His follow up to Bawskee, which dropped last August, definitely sticks to that “ignorant” vibe, which has put him on the map.

If you’re looking for that funky, turn-up feeling that Comethazine so often provides, I’d recommend giving listens to “I BE DAMNED,” “HOW DO YOU DO?” and “BENJAMIN COUNTER.” However, of all the songs on the album, “DEMAR DEROZEN” has proved to be most popular among the masses.

Members Only, Vol. 4 – Members Only

The project was released on the birthday of the late XXXTentacion, who headlines the 24-track lineup with Ski Mask the Slump God. Others including Kid Trunks, Craig Xen, Bass Santana, Tankhead, Corey, Flyboy Tarantino, Ikabod Veins, Cooliecut and Killstation feature on the project as well. It’s the fourth compilation by the South Florida group, Members Only.

The tape is highlighted with hits like “Sauce!,” “Hey Diddy!,” and “Make Eem Run!” There’s also rumored to be more posthumous XXXTentacion music on the way. The South Florida native, who would’ve turned 21 on Jan. 23, has already released an album and featured on a number of other projects since being fatally shot last June.

January may be over but these new releases will only continue to leave their mark. February is now underway, and there are more projects to look forward to. Lil Pump is expected (at least for now for) to drop Harvard Dropout on Feb. 22, and hopefully, we get new Snoop Dogg and Offset music this month as well. Snoop is in the works on his new album, I Wanna Thank Me, and Offset has an album waiting to drop that many fans can’t wait much longer for. The project, which has an undisclosed title, was originally set for a December release but has continuously been delayed. Hopefully, we get it soon rather than later.