Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Black History Month playlist

The Collegian Staff picks their favorite 2024 tracks by Black artists
Graphic by Isaac Brickman.

“TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” by Beyoncé

Paige Hanson, Assistant Social Media Editor

Queen Bey takes a new spin on her discography with “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.” Released the same day as Super Bowl LVIII, “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” is one of Beyoncé’s surprise singles for her upcoming country-themed album, “Act II.” On Feb. 20, “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, making Beyoncé the first Black woman with a No. 1 country song. This song provides listeners with western and southern influences, featuring banjo and viola in the background, both played by Rhiannon Giddens. Lyrics include: “This ain’t Texas / Ain’t no hold ‘em / So lay your cards down, down, down, down, oh / So park your Lexus / And throw your keys up / And stick around, ‘round, ‘round, ‘round, ‘round.”

“Praise Jah In The Moonlight” by YG Marley

Shanti Furtado, Assistant Multimedia & Public Relations Editor

The Marley name is alive and well. YG Marley, the son of legendary rapper Lauryn Hill and grandson to reggae’s forefather Bob Marley is the latest of the family tree to further its signature musical prowess. In his debut single, “Praise Jah In The Moonlight,” Marley keeps the reggae genre alive with samples and production credits from both his grandfather and mother. Heartened by the style’s classic four-beat rhythmic instrumentation, Marley’s tone shows glints of his relatives, but brings his own distinctive timbre and cadence, both showing his hip-hop influence. Lyrically Marley croons to sentiments of missing someone, yearning for their love and praise of the powers that be. The fusion of each musical facet cultivates a sonic nostalgia; constructing nothing short of an irresistible listen. In the wake of the release of Bob Marley’s biopic, “One Love,” “Praise Jah In The Moonlight” indicates the future of reggae, ushering in a fresh interpretation of what is sure to resonate with a new generation.

“R&B” by MIKE and Tony Seltzer

Luke Macannuco, Collegian Staff

New York-based rapper MIKE’s newest track, “R&B,” is an exceedingly smooth 2000s throwback. Produced by Tony Seltzer, the beat features sugary neo-soul melodies over chill, groovy percussion, à la an Amerie song. MIKE brings an infectious flow that makes this track an absolute head-nodder. His lyricism is sometimes braggadocious — “I look sexy, I look handsome, I hop out the whip” — and sometimes self-reflective, as much of MIKE’s music is —I had to do a homie bad, I ain’t proud of it.” The music video that accompanied the song’s release, directed by Jelani Miller, is full of Y2K nostalgia, like something straight out of a 2001 MTV broadcast. It’s an aesthetic that works extremely well with MIKE’s personality and is perhaps something he will expand on, as he and Seltzer have teased more collaborations soon-to-come. MIKE will begin his world tour on Feb. 27, in Dublin, Ireland.

“thicc” by Shygirl, Cosha

 Thomas Machacz, Assistant Arts Editor

English artist Shygirl is a master of her aesthetic. With her latest EP, “Club Shy,” she invites you to her own dazzling nightclub, populated with collaborators that range from Boys Noize to Cosha, the Irish singer-songwriter featured on “thicc.” The dance track is an energizing ode to pure sensation, invoking the heat-of-the-moment intensity of finding the right person at the club. Shygirl’s verses form the base of the track, with Cosha’s soaring vocals sending the listener far above the dancing hordes. Shygirl’s never-bothered, never-rushed deliveries ooze confidence and self-assured sex appeal. Her simple, catchy lyrics bounce over a pulsating synthesis of ‘90s-style house beats and wall-of-sound synths. “Club Shy” is loaded with earworms, but “thicc” combines the joyous explicitness of Shygirl’s catalog with the pure joy of classics like SNAP’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer” and La Bouche’s “Be My Lover.” If you’re looking for fun, look no further than “Club Shy.”

“Saturn” by SZA

Gustavo Atencio Flores, Collegian Staff

Nearly three weeks after a historic three Grammy wins for her critically acclaimed album, “SOS,” SZA is back with the release of her newest song, “Saturn.” Released on Feb. 22, the song is a fusion of everything SZA does best: dreamy vocals, smooth beats and (literally) otherworldly lyrics. The song follows SZA through an existential crisis, wishing she could pack up her things and move to Saturn. She masks the extremely nihilistic undertones of the song with an ethereal aesthetic and relatable lyrics. “Saturn” is the first single for her upcoming album “Lana,” the name being a shortened version of the R&B singer’s real name, Solána. Initially described as a deluxe version of “SOS” as it’s made up of unreleased music from those sessions, it evolved into its own project. The single is the first of many new SZA songs expected to come with the release of the record. “Lana” is slated for release later this year.


“née-nah” by 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Metro Boomin

Lucas Ruud, Editor in Chief

Following the release of Travis Scott’s “Utopia,” many fans expected him to rest on his laurels and continue to play “Fein” 10 times in a row at sold-out concerts. He’s still doing that, but he also took time to deliver a killer feature on 21 Savage’s track “née-nah.” This song feels like it could’ve been on “Utopia” — and it would have been one of the better tracks on the record. Scott delivers a smooth, lyrical performance that sounds like he teleported back to his “Rodeo” days. The lack of autotune and special effects force the rapper to rely on the strength of his lyrics, a generally weak aspect of his work, bringing out a side to Scott that we don’t normally see. 21 is also incredible on the track, with a catchy hook and punchy lines like, “Playin’ freeze tag, s*** I’m tryna see who it.” You don’t get a much better rap duo than Travis and 21, and “née-nah” does not disappoint.

“HISS” by Megan Thee Stallion

Kristen Matul Toc, Collegian Staff

Megan Thee Stallion isn’t afraid to clap back in “HISS,” where she disses the people who have just plain pissed her off. “HISS” dropped on Jan. 26 as a follow-up to the single, “Cobra.” Both songs are a part of Megan’s third upcoming studio album which will soon be released under her own independent label, Hot Girl Productions. With an introduction that would make anyone’s head turn, Megan gives a warning to all the people she alludes to in her lyrics. If you’ve been keeping up with the drama stemming from her court case with Tory Lanez or her beef with Nicki Minaj, you’ll know who she is referring to. Besides the disses, “HISS” is a song made to let off some steam and move on. For Megan at least, she just wants to defend her name.. There’s something about listening to Megan rapping “Bodies on bodies, on bodies on bodies” that gets you through those last 10 minutes on a treadmill. With its catchy beat and Megan keeping the steady flow, “HISS” makes you feel powerful.

“Dizzy” by RiTchie featuring Aminé

Luke Macannuco, Collegian Staff

One-third of hip-hop group Injury Reserve and one-half of the hip-hop duo By Storm, Phoenix rapper RiTchie is making his foray into solo work this year. “Dizzy” is the second single of his upcoming debut solo album, “Triple Digits [112].” Produced by AJRadico, the beat features the glitchy melodies and robust percussion that RiTchie has made a staple throughout his career. It’s a noticeable change from the smoother, jazzier elements of his earlier work on Injury Reserve’s first two records, “Live from the Dentist Office” and “Floss.” On the track, RiTchie raps about bandwagoners — “If there’s a new thing, he’s always doing it” — and calls out their ability to coast by without putting in work — “How you wylin’ but still pay rent, s*** / Well, it’s simplistic, his parents all rich.” Portland rapper Aminé drops a tight and hilarious guest verse where he expands on the theme of calling out corny people, rapping, “You the type to link and build at a urinal / your granny died, you takin’ fit pics at the funeral.”  RiTchie’s debut album “Triple Digits [112]” releases April 5.


“n.h.i.e” by 21 Savage

Samourra Rene, Assistant Arts Editor

“n.h.i.e,” presumably standing for “Never Have I Ever” is a declaration of self-respect, echoed in affirmations from artists like 21 Savage and Doja Cat, who refuse to tolerate disrespect. In 21 Savage’s signature style, reminiscent of his hit 2019 “A Lot,” he crafts catchy lyrics and witty one-liners with addicting hooks. Yet, amidst the infectious beats, he subtly addresses the shocking revelation of his secret British nationality with the poignant lyrics — “Green Card, green tips in the strap (okay) / Keep talkin’ ’bout where I was born (okay).”

The accompanying psychedelic soft beat transcends mere auditory experience; it’s a sensation of floating, carried by rhythms that caress like a gentle breeze. As the track unfolds, Doja Cat slides on the beat with her effortless flow, sliding smoother than a feather on silk. Her quirky personality shines through as she literally adlibs the word “adlib,” infusing the track with an additional layer of charm and playfulness. With each verse she paints a vivid picture, her words weaving together like strokes on a canvas, inviting listeners into a world where individuality reigns supreme and self-respect is non-negotiable.

“DOSE OF DOPENESS (2007)” by Kid Cudi

Victoria Thompson, Collegian Correspondent

 A little over a month after the release of his ninth studio album “INSANO,” Kid Cudi released his 10th studio album, “INSANO (NITRO MEGA)” on Feb. 23. The album is slower and more melodic, reminiscent of Kid Cudi’s earlier style. “DOSE OF DOPENESS” is a previously unreleased demo from 2007. The song features somber, melodic piano loops juxtaposed with a lively driving beat featuring claps. The track begins with Cudi harmonizing to the complex background instrumentation, in an emo-esque vocal inflection, before delving into the lyrics, delivered in a vibrant energetic manner. The song, while moderately paced, does not suffer from a lack of energy; it is upbeat and undeniably catchy. One notable line —“So f***ing underground, barely on YouTube / ‘Till ‘Day N Nite,’ now they all got a clue who” — serves as a reminder of how far he has come since releasing earlier recorded songs like this on YouTube with a limited audience, to the widespread commercial success he received with the release of “Day ‘N’ Nite.”

“27 CLUB” by Tierra Whack

Jack Murphy, Collegian Correspondent

Rapper and musical artist Tierra Whack has been experimenting with music ever since she was a child growing up in Philadelphia. But she first experienced mainstream success in the late 2010s, most notably with her 2018 debut album “Whack World.” Following this project’s positive reception, Whack was selected as a member of XXL’s 2019 Freshman Class and has continued to release music ever since. The variety of sounds and styles Whack plays with on “Whack World” are an apt representation of the eclectic creativity that defines the artist’s career. Whack’s music explores an array of different tones, genres and vocal styles, with songs in her catalog ranging from poignant tracks about grief to those with heavy comedic elements. Her latest single “27 CLUB” is no exception to this range in artistry, where Whack sings about experiencing suicidal thoughts during a dark time in her life. Although she has certainly tackled emotional topics in the past, “27 CLUB” is arguably her most vulnerable and personal release to date. It is an effectively moving expression of Whack’s intimate intrapersonal struggles, and an important and worthy addition to her ever-growing discography. “27 CLUB” will be featured on Tierra Whack’s upcoming album “WORLD WIDE WHACK,” which is set to release on March 15.

“One Of Them Ones” by Usher

Caitlin Reardon, Head Arts Editor

Following his Super Bowl halftime show that garnered 129.3 million viewers and broke the record for most watched performance in Super Bowl history, Usher has already cemented 2024 as his year. The legendary R&B star released his ninth studio album “COMING HOME” on Feb. 9 just before announcing his upcoming and mostly sold-out “USHER: Past, Present, Future” tour. Although not a totally cohesive project and sonically scattered at times, the album is a 20-track long celebration of the artist’s landmark career, including features from H.E.R., Burna Boy, 21 Savage and Summer Walker. The confessional and self-realizing “One Of Them Ones” marks a shining standout that flies under the radar between hits like “Good Good” and “Risking It All.” A perfect entanglement of his signature early 2000s spry suaveness to his now instinctually contemporary ear, Usher captures a clean production with lushly layered vocals, sensual backing piano and an addictive looping chorus. Introspective but refined, his lyricism is simple in its charm: “Every single playlist that I listen to reminds me of you.” The breezy tempo is held steady with a straightforward beat under glittering keys and yearningly dissonant chords. “One Of Them Ones” represents the unmistakable stamps of the icon’s distinguished R&B, funk, hip-hop and pop influences – proving Usher has truly mastered his unique musicianship by fusion of old school and modern elegance.

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