February Release Rundown

A look at some of the most notable new albums and singles released in February, from established stars to emerging artists.

February Release Rundown
Third Bridge Creative
Third Bridge Creative
February 29, 20245 min read
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Written by Peter A. Berry of Third Bridge Creative

This is the second installment of a monthly column that will look back at key new releases from artists across the spectrum, from superstars to upstarts. We’ll break down what happened and why it mattered. For this edition, we take a look at releases from Mk.gee, Beyoncé, Eric Reprid, Brittany Howard, and Usher, whose Super Bowl performance generated plenty of buzz and big streams. 

Mk.gee's Two Star & The Dream Police Makes Waves

Simply put, Mk.gee’s new album, Two Star & The Dream Police, is really good. Coated in trippy soundbeds, lithely expressive vocals, and some abstract lyricism, it’s an LP that’s yearning, reflective, and stylish; his voice sounds like echoes in the house of an abandoned lover. It’s as intimate as it is carefully crafted — an example of an artist fully coming into their powers. The project has earned him comparisons to John Mayer, some social media praise, and a new Chartmetric designation as an artist with their career momentum in the growth stage. His Spotify monthly listeners have shot up by over 250k since the end of January. 

Beyoncé’s "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM" Makes Country Music History — Despite Some Resistance

When Beyoncé started rocking her cowgirl hat, fans knew something was up, and their suspicions were proven correct when she unloaded her new country songs “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES” during the Super Bowl itself. She even had a Verizon commercial to tie into the moment. With Bey’s vocals and down-home lyricism — and obviously, her dedicated fan base who will support her every move no matter what — the tracks are performing phenomenally. But, it was “TEXAS HOLD EM” that made Bey the first-ever Black woman to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. She made history and stream jumps, with her Spotify monthly listener count rising by nearly 15 million since the day of the Super Bowl. However, this wasn’t without some level of resistance.

As reported in the New York Times, an Oklahoma country radio station refused to play Bey’s music because they didn’t classify it as “country music.” Later, the station manager backed off his stance as the station was inundated with fan requests to play the song, which he says the station didn’t even have in their possession in the first place. Regardless of the outcome, the publicity only led to Beyoncé’s songs trending more, which probably helped fuel the rise of both her new singles. It also raised important logistical questions about just who gets to say what genre is what, as well as the role that race plays in our perception of said classifications. 

In 2016, The Recording Academy refused to consider Bey’s “Daddy’s Lessons,” a country song, for consideration for Best Country Song and Country Solo Performance. Back in 2019, Lil Nas X’s country-infused track “Old Town Road” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but Billboard decided not to include it on its Hot Country Songs chart because it didn’t “embrace enough elements of today's country music.” With Beyoncé on top of the chart, it feels like a small victory in a classification war that might come with the release of her forthcoming album, Act II

Eric Reprid's "SUKI" Goes Viral 

Eric Reprid is a Canadian rapper who’s been at it for a little while, with his breakout single “Cold World” having earned over 56 million streams since being released on Spotify in 2020. His latest spurt of motion comes from “SUKI,” a playful new track he dropped at the top of the month. For the song, he grafts a warped violin sample with raps that are as twitchy as they are raunchy. Shifting between pitches and spurts of sing-song flowing, it’s a delirious, yet exhilarating listen, and his fans like it too. The TikTok he uploaded of himself mouthing the words of the track has been viewed over 3.6 million times, and Kai Cenat has even served up his own reaction video to the song. 


SUKI out now

♬ original sound - Riddy

Brittany Howard's What Now Makes an Impression

As a member of (the now defunct) Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard isn’t new to acclaim. She’s won five Grammy awards to date, and she might collect a couple more with What Now, an astral constellation of disembodied funk, serene soul, and introspection. Here, ghostly falsetto meets pensiveness and everything from jazz to electronic sounds on the tracks feel intimate yet impressionistic. It’s altogether an immersive experience that’s gotten her a lot of attention. With her Chartmetric career momentum moving up to growth from steady since the release of her album, she seems on track to soon hit 1.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Basically, after she’s already collected the trophies, she’s in the middle of another level up. What now? 

The Super Bowl Super Gives Usher a Super Charge

Taylor Swift — err, the Kansas City Chiefs — weren’t Super Bowl LVIII’s only big winners. In the month leading up to the big game, Usher saw his monthly Spotify listeners increase by around 4 million, since rising an additional 9.8 million taking his total from around 35.6 million on January 11 to 49.3 million as of February 27. His resurgence this past year has been a seamless confluence of timing, technique, and nostalgia. 

On one hand, Usher’s 2021-2023 Las Vegas residencies injected him back into the national consciousness, with his performances generating streams and some unnecessary controversies. That set the stage for him to be selected for this year’s Super Bowl halftime performance. Clocking in at about 13 minutes, the showcase saw the veteran singer execute sharp choreography while traversing most of the upbeat hits in his catalog. His vocals were sharp and an array of guest appearances — including Lil Jon, Ludacris, Alicia Keys, H.E.R., and more — made the whole thing an electric exercise in showmanship. 

Released on Feb. 9, just days before the Super Bowl, COMING HOME fuses modern and retro R&B sounds for an LP that can get both dedicated fans and new ones to tap in — and tap in they did. Coming Home debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart after selling 91k equivalent album units in its first week. Now, for comparison’s sake, his 2016 solo album, Hard II Love, peaked at No. 5. Meanwhile, 2018’s “A” (with Zaytoven) peaked at No. 31 on the same chart, selling only 15k equivalent album units in its first week. With a boost from his Super Bowl performance and the hype surrounding it, Usher found himself back where he belonged — near the top of the charts. Coming home, indeed. 

Graphics by Nicki Camberg and cover image by Crasianne Tirado; data as of Feb. 27, 2024.