Future took a long enough break from his Instagram shenanigans to give us some new music, and it’s not bad. “Crushed Up,” which is classic Future as far as the lyrics are concerned, is reportedly the first single from his as-yet-untitled seventh studio album. Watch the video below.

First post of the year! I had a short vacation because my body and soul needed it, but now I’m back and better than ever.

The Black Eyed Peas’ “Request Line” (featuring Macy Gray) was the third single from their sophomore album, Bridging the Gap. More significantly, it was the group’s first song to crack the Billboard Hot 100, which blows my mind and serves as evidence that popularity is not always an indication of quality.

The music video is also a reminder that the Black Eyed Peas’ have always been a fun and imaginative group with pop sensibilities (i.e. they didn’t become that way after Fergie). Watch the video below.

In the “Money” video, which dropped less than an hour ago, Cardi B gives a nod to her stripper past while serving haute couture. I’ma just go ahead and say that this is the best video I’ve seen in a LONG time — definitely the best one I’ve seen all year.

We get to see grade A stripper gymnastics, all sorts of bare nipples, Cardi’s bare ass while she plays the piano, and even a few frames of Cardi breastfeeding Kulture. The streams for this video are gonna be through the roof, so expect “Money” to take a big leap on next week’s chart. Watch the video below.

Earlier this week, YG dropped the video for the Quavo-assisted “Slay,” which happens to be one of my favorite tracks on Stay Dangerous. The song is a reminder that you can make a melodic rap song without it being too “poppy” (as they say), and that even the gulliest of rappers can make songs about things other than guns. And honestly, I just feel blessed whenever these rappers use a bit that doesn’t sound like a variation of that one beat everyone has been using for the last three years or so.

The video is set in YG’s imagination of heaven, which is full of 10s with giant angel wings. I dig it.

About a week ago, Ariana Grande released “Imagine” and sent the internet into a frenzy with a couple of whistle notes. If the Mariah Carey comparisons was a giant bucket of gasoline, “Imagine” was like lighting a match and throwing it into said bucket. Fans of Ariana declared that she had officially replaced Mariah, while lambs (i.e. Mariah stans) downplayed the impressiveness of Ari’s whistle notes and suggested that she couldn’t do it live.

Two nights ago on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Ariana hit those notes live, and while it was impressive, she doesn’t appear to have as much control over her higher register as Mariah does.

All of this critique might seem unfair unless you’re familiar with Mariah Carey’s live performances in her prime. One that comes to mind — especially where whistle notes are concerned — is her September 1991 performance of “Emotions” on The Arsenio Hall Show. In this performance, you see a young woman in her bag and on her way to making history — with “Emotions,” Mariah achieved the distinction of being the first (and, so far, the only) artist to have their first five singles rise to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

This performance is not just arguably Mariah’s best ever, but also one of the best you will ever see in terms of vocals. She was SANGIN’ and it was effortless. When you put this up against anything Ariana has ever done, you realize that the debate about who’s better is actually quite ridiculous. Check it out below.

The Black Eyed Peas found their way back to making unadulterated hip-hop, and I love it. The only difference between me and most of the people praising their return to form is that I also like a lot of the music they made while Fergie was in the group — “I Gotta Feeling” was hot trash, but most of the other singles were great.

“BACK 2 HIPHOP” is both an announcement of the group’s return to the genre (I don’t think they ever really left) and a rebuke of its current state. It’s really odd that the group behind “I Gotta Feeling” would have the gall to do that, but what do I know? The track features Nas — who, along with will.i.am, once famously declared hip-hop dead — and samples Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me).”

“BACK 2 HIPHOP” is the fourth single from the group’s seventh studio album, Masters of the Sun Vol. 1. Watch the video below.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” might be Mariah Carey’s biggest money=maker, but she has quite a few other holiday originals that are deserve the same amount of attention. One of those is “Miss You Most (at Christmas Time),” a heart-wrenching ballad sung from the perspective of a forlorn lover reminiscing about her ex. It might not get the party  started like “All I Want,” but real ones know this is arguably the best song on Merry Christmas.

JoJo just released a cover of “Miss You Most” and the internet is unanimous in praising her efforts. Mariah herself commented on JoJo’s Instagram to give props. Listen to JoJo’s cover below, and as a bonus, I’m also including the original. I’m in a giving mood.

The original:

Let me just start by saying that Mariah Carey is somewhere seething at this track. I’ll explain why in a minute.

Ariana Grande just dropped “Imagine,” presumably the second single from her upcoming album, which she has described as First Wives Club if it were an album. Produced by Happy Perez and Andrew “Pop” Wansel, the song is a sexy mid-tempo about cupcaking with your boo. It’s supposed to be about denial, but if you’re not aware of what’s happening in her personal life, you might not be able to pick up on that theme.

The highlight of the song is when she hits a few sharp whistle notes that will make you sit up. Its noteworthy not just because she’s showcasing the breadth of her vocal range, but also because it indicates that she is back to emulating her idol, Mariah Carey, more openly. After being shaded Mimi a few times, she kinda went out of her way to avoid the comparison. These whistle notes say “I don’t give a fuck.”

Listen to “Imagine” below.

Five years ago today, Beyoncé released her self-titled fifth studio album, and nothing was the same. In an extravagant display of pop clout, Beyoncé released a 14-track visual album with zero promotion. As she sings on her collabo with Nicki Minaj (“Feeling Myself”), the world literally stopped.

Following the release of her fourth album, 4, it appeared that Bey’s star power was waning. She was still a major player in the game, but it wasn’t quite like before. Gaga was doing her thing; Rihanna was doing her thing; Taylor Swift was doing her thing; Katy Perry was doing her thing; heck, Adele was doing the fuck outta hers. This isn’t to say that there isn’t room for all of them (or that any of these women are in her lane), I’m just pointing how unique 2011 was as far as female dominance in the music industry. Beyoncé, though the superior talent by far, wasn’t running things quite like before.

Months after 4‘s release, she’d give birth to her first child, Blue Ivy Carter. She went relatively quite (as one would expect) and said nothing about future releases. There were reports about collabos with everyone from Miguel to Frank Ocean, but no conrete details. We also saw pics of her at Coney Island — we’d later find out it was the “XO” video shoot — but we never got any explanations.

We were all going on about our lives, then one glorious day in December 2013, she destroyed us. The music on the album was great, but that almost didn’t matter. The scale and secrecy of the project was mind-blowing.

The Beyoncé album also marked the legend’s withdrawal for the chart race. By giving all tracks the single treatment (all at once), she essentially made them all less viable for high chart positions. “Drunk in Love” (featuring Jay-Z), which was sent to radio days after the album’s release, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, but no other single cracked the top 10 — and that didn’t matter. The album’s impact was so great that the statistics became somewhat less relevant.

By taking an unorthodox approach to releasing her music, Bey not only reinforced her place in the game, she injected some much-needed excitement into the music industry. And by having a video to go with each track, she forced audiences to enjoy the album as a body of work, as opposed to cherry-picking whatever tracks are being raved about, which is what happens in this day of social media and single-track downloads.

Beyoncé sold over five million copies worldwide and won three Grammys — the Recording Academy fucked her over to give Album of the Year to an artist who hasn’t had a hit since ’95, but it’s all good. The legacy of the Beyoncé — which is evidenced by the spike in surprise album releases — is bigger than a Grammy.

My favorite track from that album is “Partition.” Watch the video below.