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, Cordae gets his greatest chance to shine, FKA Twigs returns bursting with new ideas, and Kane Brown is drowning his lyrical sorrows. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Cordae, From a Birds Eye View
The winding career path of Cordae — formerly of the YBN collective, recently a two-time Grammy nominee, and currently drawing attention for A-list musical collaborations and his relationship with tennis superstar Naomi Osaka — has led to the most introspective moment of his career. The lushly produced sophomore album From a Birds Eye View is designed as an honest look at a hard-fought come-up, with the lyrical detail on recalling recent projects by Lil Baby and Polo G as artists like H.E.R., Gunna, Lil Durk and Stevie Wonder (!) stop by with contributions.
FKA Twigs, Caprisongs
FKA Twigs has positioned Caprisongs as a “mixtape” instead of the proper full-length follow-up to 2019’s Magdalene — but at 17 songs and 48 minutes long, her latest project is far more expansive than something like Twigs’ 2015 EP M3LL155X. It’s also more meticulous: Caprisongs allows the experimental R&B artist to toy with her aesthetic, playing with more beat-driven arrangements and collaborative structures (The Weeknd, Jorja Smith and Daniel Caesar are among the guests), but there’s nary a false move nor loose end to be found on the project, with even the spoken-word interludes carefully curated.
Kane Brown, “Whiskey Sour”
One week after another country star with major crossover pop appeal, Maren Morris, released a single that harkened back to her genre roots, Kane Brown has done the same with “Whiskey Sour,” a heartbreaking ode to a quickly dissolved marriage anchored by a somber banjo-violin combo. While Brown has been collecting streams and radio spins with the more top 40-friendly “One Mississippi,” “Whskey Sour” serves as a nice counter-balance for country listeners.
Gunna feat. Drake, “P Power”
Gunna’s DS4EVER is one week old, and the Atlanta star’s collection of spaced-out soundscapes and harmonious bars now includes perhaps its most high-profile guest spot: Drake stops by for the deluxe edition-ready “P Power,” a more sexualized continuation of the album’s “Pushin P” with Future and Young Thug. Drake tosses out some head-knocking lines about drugs, sex and his Benz, but Metro Boomin’s opulent, cascading beat is the true star here.
Avril Lavigne feat. Blackbear, “Love It When You Hate Me”
On the precipice of another big year for pop-punk revival enthusiasts, Avril Lavigne has announced her new album, Love Sux, and preceded the February release with another deliriously fun bit of guitar-pop, following lead single “Bite Me.” “Love It When You Hate Me” recruits Blackbear — a key part of Machine Gun Kelly’s own pop-punk opus “My Ex’s Best Friend” — for some lovingly snotty interplay over production that adds some trap beats into the Warped Tour atmosphere.
Static & Ben El feat. 24KGoldn, “Bella”
Have global pop duo Static & Ben El released the next big TikTok dance track? “Bella,” featuring “Mood” star 24KGoldn, recalls the club-ready rhythmic pop from the late 2000s — there’s even a lyrical nod to Rihanna’s “Umbrella” — while also sporting plenty of hooks that both work within a whole and are ready to be broken down, potentially consumed in bite-sized snippets.