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, Cardi B’s got a killer posse cut, J-Hope steps out on his own and Calvin Harris keeps the summer rolling. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Cardi B feat. Kanye West & Lil Durk, “Hot S–t”
Part of the reason why the music world is breathlessly awaiting the official follow-up to Cardi B’s spectacular 2018 debut album Invasion of Privacy has to do with the high quality of the music she’s released leading up to the project, from “WAP” to “Up” to every top-notch guest verse in between. With “Hot S–t,” Cardi keeps the win streak rolling in a more straight-ahead trap lane, firing off some memorable one-liners (and an “Electric Slide” nod!) over a sizzling beat before ceding the floor to Lil Durk and Kanye West, who find balance by speeding up and slowing down the flow of the track, respectively.
With BTS taking a pause for now, J-Hope is leaping headfirst into a proper solo career with the upcoming project Jack In the Box and a prime slot at Lollapalooza this summer. “More” kicks off this new chapter with a title that speaks to J-Hope’s sonic ambitions and a style that’s fascinating to hear him tackle: the single is ostensibly a throwback hip-hop track with rock-band undercurrents that take less than a minute to bubble to the surface. The whole affair recalls Brockhampton’s caution-to-the-wind approach to pop-rap, and is as compelling a start to J-Hope’s time in the spotlight at BTS fans could hope to hear.
Calvin Harris feat. 21 Savage, “New Money”
Calvin Harris’ Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 may still be more than a month away, but summer is in full swing, and the veteran producer is graciously bestowing listeners with another tune to soundtrack pool parties and backyard barbecues before the full-length arrives. 21 Savage, fresh off of stellar appearances on singles by Pharrell Williams and Drake, pairs his unflappable flow with glittery keys on “New Money,” and while the dance production may not be the sound that comes to mind when considering his steely flow, the MC’s pop instincts kick in and guide the track.
Luke Bryan, “Country On”
“Anytime you can reference country music fans in a song, and you can really make it feel natural, it’s great,” Luke Bryan says in a press statement about his new single, “Country On.” Bryan has long been a master at catering to his base and providing anthems that work in a stadium setting, and “Country On” will slot into his set list nicely, as a celebration of his supporters and a symbol of the charming songwriting that’s complemented his oak-tree voice for years.
City Girls feat. Usher, “Good Love”
City Girls understand that Usher is responsible for some of the biggest hooks of the 21st century, and for their new collaboration “Good Love,” they put his golden-voiced pop talents to work. The single harkens back to Usher’s late-‘00s/early-‘10s run as a dance floor maverick, with the R&B legend operating over percolating percussion as City Girls toast to a night out on the town and the standards they set for those who accompany; the pairing works, and it will be interesting to see how high “Good Love” can climb as a potential crossover hit.