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, Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa join forces, Lil Durk tells every side of his story, and Latto continues to rise toward the A-list. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Megan Thee Stallion & Dua Lipa, “Sweetest Pie”
The pairing of Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa makes too much sense on paper: both are singular, new-school stars with best new artist Grammys and the ability to appeal to several different audiences. “Sweetest Pie” places their respective superpowers next to each other, as Lipa offers a hypnotic, danceable hook while Megan rattles off as many boastful metaphors as can fit in an allotted time period; the new collaboration takes a few seconds to pick up steam, but there’s so much talent on display here that one can’t help but press play.
Lil Durk, 7220
As they dive into Lil Durk’s latest project, hip-hop fans could reasonably be distracted by the noise surrounding it — most recently by his ongoing feud with YoungBoy Never Broke Again, which resulted in the recent single “AHHH HA,” and previously by his controversial team-up with Morgan Wallen for the song “Broadway Girls.” Both tracks appear on 7220, but the opening song, “Started From,” serves as a quick, cutting reminder of why Durk has become a star in the first place: the personal anecdotes, effortless flow and triumph through pain all remain engaging, as do the blockbuster collaborations with Future and Gunna further down the track list.
Latto feat. 21 Savage, “Wheelie”
As Latto enjoys a mainstream breakthrough with “Big Energy,” which climbs up to No. 17 on this week’s Hot 100 chart, the ascendant rapper is refusing to rest on her laurels, tapping fellow Atlanta native 21 Savage for the explicit, no-holds-barred new single “Wheelie.” While the two MCs trade sexual innuendos and ad-libs, Latto finds a nice groove in the second half of her verse — her voice floats toward a seductive high, then goes fully animated for the line “Birkin bag me, double C me / He ain’t trickin’, go Houdini!”
Rex Orange County, Who Cares?
Rex Orange County created Who Cares? in Amsterdam with collaborator Benny Sings, with whom he worked on his still-fantastic 2017 breakthrough hit “Loving Is Easy.” Five years later, that partnership continues to produce effervescent results: after zagging with 2019’s Pony, the singer-songwriter has returned to the warm, carefree pop sound that suits him well, and even picks up an assist from his pal Tyler, The Creator on the strings-laden “Open A Window.”
Florence + The Machine, “My Love”
Although Florence Welch has spent more than a decade as a top-tier performer and festival headliner in North America, her Florence + The Machine project has done so without an abundance of crossover hits — their highest-charting single on the Hot 100 remains 2008’s “Dog Days Are Over,” and nothing has rivaled its No. 21 peak since then. “My Love” may change that: the latest preview of forthcoming LP Dance Fever utilizes Welch’s dramatic delivery as the backbone of a breathless workout, with the refrain “I don’t know where to put my love!” a natural shout-along moment for festival crowds and top 40 listeners alike.
Lucky Daye, Candy Drip
Searching for some immaculate, forward-thinking R&B? Look no further than Lucky Daye’s new album Candydrip, which levels up from 2019’s Painted in every conceivable way as the New Orleans native confidently carves out a foothold in the genre. Produced by D’Mile, who’s about to compete for a handful of Grammys thanks to his work with H.E.R. and Silk Sonic, Candy Drip sounds as accomplished as Daye’s contemporaries while also taking a futuristic approach reminiscent on Bryson Tiller and The-Dream on tracks like “Feels Like” and “Guess.”