January Release Rundown

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

January Release Rundown
Third Bridge Creative
Third Bridge Creative
January 31, 20243 min read
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Written by Peter A. Berry of Third Bridge Creative

This is the first installment of a monthly column that will look back at key new releases from artists across the spectrum, from superstars to rising talents. We’ll break down what happened and why it mattered. For this edition, we take a look at releases from Kali Uchis, 21 Savage, and Megan Thee Stallion, as well as newer acts like xaviersobased and influencer-turned-rapper Cleotrapa. 

Kali Uchis’ Second Spanish-Speaking Album Lands Her Biggest Debut 

Kali Uchis’ second Spanish-language album just landed her the best opening commercial performance of her career. Titled Orquídeas, the shapeshifting LP sold 69k equivalent album units before officially landing at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. With its stylishly versatile mix of pulsing reggaeton, ambient R&B, and synth-pop, it’s the type of project that can be played in a variety of settings, and her singles also maximized the moment. Released January 11, her visual for "Tu Corazón Es Mio / Diosa" doubled as an announcement that she and Houston rapper/singer Don Toliver were expecting their first child together. The video for her Peso Pluma-assisted single, “Igual Que Un Ángel,” has collected over 13.7 million YouTube views, which only increased both her channel and video views for the month. Her momentum can also be found on Spotify, where her monthly listeners lept from 36.9 million at the beginning of the month to nearly 45.2 million by the end of it.

21 Savage Holds Steady With New Album

With his understated deadpan delivery and immediate brand of lyricism, 21 Savage wasn’t initially pegged as an artist designed for longevity. But, with the release of American Dream, his fourth straight album to chart at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, he’s proven to be exactly that. While the album doesn’t explore the themes of migration with the depth fans might have expected after he was arrested by ICE officials in February 2019, it’s a cohesive alignment of the agile, yet deadpan raps and spurts of quippy menace that made him a star. His monthly Spotify listener count jumped from 55.5 million at the top of the month to about 63 million now. 

Cleotrapa’s “Rockstar” Is a Promising Glimpse of an Emerging Rapper

The influencer-to-rapper pipeline remains strong. Towards the end of the month, Atlanta-based, Staten Island-raised upstart Cleotrapa released “Rockstar,” a single with sonics that definitely evoke its song title. For the track, she fuses a prissy delivery with lyrics that are as braggadocious as they are dismissive. The beat itself is a feat of mad scientist wizardry, with a guitar riff from Hannah Montana’s “Rockstar” being combined with some pulsing club percussion. Altogether, it’s an electric addition to an expanding catalog — one that’s got her in what Chartmetric calls the growth stage of momentum development. She’s got some powerful backers, too; she counts Ice Spice as a close friend and supporter. There could be a collab on the way, but even if there isn’t, she’s got the personality and curatorial instincts to forge a rap career that matches her success as an influencer. 

xaviersobased’s keep it going xav Has Him Leveling Up

Since releasing his latest project, keep it going xav, xaviersobased finds himself in the middle of a solid level-up. A haze of astral synths and disembodied alien melodies, keep it going xav is as distinct as it is engrossing, a perfect way to kick back and zone out. With that in mind, it’s no wonder Pitchfork placed it in their Best New Music category. Naturally, he’s seen an uptick analytically, too, with Chartmetric placing him firmly as having growing momentum while his Spotify listeners have risen by 95.5k since January 1, more than doubling his audience size. 

Megan Thee Stallion Poised for Biggest Solo Single Debut 

After unleashing her comeback single “Cobra” last November, Megan Thee Stallion closed out January by releasing “HISS,” a scathing new track directed at various unnamed individuals. Although she doesn’t name-drop, at least one very famous frenemy took notice before issuing their own response. The subject matter, as well as speculation regarding her targets, made Megan a trending topic for days while helping the song earn over 8.6 million Spotify streams, with the mesmerizing official video earning over 8.2 million YouTube views. Powered by social media conversation and fundamentally sharp bars, Megan’s latest is reportedly set to become her first single to debut in the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10. 

Graphics by Nicki Camberg and cover image by Crasianne Tirado; data as of Jan. 31, 2024.