Billboard’s First Stream serves as a handy guide to this Friday’s most essential releases — the key music that everyone will be talking about today, and that will be dominating playlists this weekend and beyond.
This week, Adele is finally back, Saweetie is ready for a bigger stage and French Montana is armed with some party cuts. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
What happens when an artist whose name has become shorthand for universal adoration releases a project that documents private turmoil? 30, Adele’s long-awaited fourth studio album, is a snapshot of a woman reckoning with the complex feelings brought on by a divorce and its effect on her young son, under the most intense of social microscopes. It’s also the sound of a timeless artist transforming her struggles into vital art, as she looks toward different personal and professional directions without betraying the personality and technical power that made her a towering figure in modern music.
Saweetie, “Icy Chain”
Ahead of capping off a stellar year with a Saturday Night Live performance slot this weekend, Saweetie has dropped another quick opportunity to flex over her haters. In under two minutes, “Icy Chain” finds Saweetie flipping off PETA over her furs, waving off men who can’t handle her popularity, and declaring, “I’ma be fun in my forties,” as if there was any doubt of such things.
French Montana, They Got Amnesia
French Montana has carved out a fruitful lane in hip-hop over the past decade, offering rambunctious anthems alongside major collaborators and building hits around tough talk and ad-libs. New album They Got Amnesia begins with a handful of compelling solo cuts, but then hits its groove when Montana pulls in fellow all-stars like John Legend and Rick Ross, for the laid-back brag “Touch The Sky,” and Doja Cat and Saweetie for the radio-ready banger “Handstand.”
Anuel AA, Myke Towers & Jhay Cortez, “Súbelo”
On new single “Súbelo,” Anuel AA, Myke Towers and Jhay Cortez bond over… baseball? As Anuel explains in a press release for the kinetic collaboration — which features MLB greats Robinson Cano, Miguel Rojas and Guillermo Heredia in its music video — “I truly want my fans to know that the concept overall is to inspire when we fall, we get back up again, and everything is possible.” For an artist like Anuel who’s been through so much and remains a vital part of Latin urban music, the thematic comparison works well.
Walker Hayes, “AA”
Sure, the Applebee’s tie-in helped Walker Hayes’ “Fancy Like” become the country crossover hit of the year, yet the singer-songwriter’s inviting delivery and easygoing refrains played a factor in the recent breakthrough. “AA,” a follow-up single that precedes a January full-length, recreates the charm of “Fancy Like” by trading date-night references for Nick Saban shout-outs and country-upstart aspirations; Hayes sounds comfortable throughout, understanding where to sneak in hints of charm and personality.
Rico Nasty feat. Flo Milli, “Money”
Rico Nasty and Flo Milli may not yet be A-listers in the hip-hop community, but make no mistake, both are stars — high-energy, highly skilled rappers who command attention whenever they hop on the mic. “Money” pairs their spirited approaches together, places them over a Boys Noize production that reworks a 2 Live Crew chant, and lets them loose for some dollar-sign-obsessed fun.