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, YoungBoy keeps his prolific streak alive, Popcaan and Drake re-team with a new mission, and Shania Twain keeps us dancing into the new year. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
YoungBoy Never Broke Again, I Rest My Case
YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s output is not only mind-boggling — four mixtapes, one album and a compilation album in 2022, the majority of which reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart — but also serves as a simple way to track the Baton Rouge native’s gradual rise as a musician and lyricist: YoungBoy generally gets more discerning and ferocious with every new project, and I Rest My Case is one of his strongest full-lengths to date. The album’s momentum snowballs from the opening bodyslam of “Black,” “Louie V” and “Swag On Point,” and ends with an affecting open letter, “Hey Pops”; in between, YoungBoy suggests that, if last year had nonstop highs, 2023 could be even bigger.
Popcaan feat. Drake, “We Caa Done”
From “Controlla” on Drake’s Views to “All I Need” on Popcaan’s Fixtape project, the hip-hop superstar and dancehall king have proven reliable collaborators for more than a half-decade — and now, ahead of Popcaan’s album Great Is He, they’ve re-teamed for a triumphant start to the new year. “We Caa Done” functions as a raised glass after overcoming tribulations, with Drake crooning in patois, Popcaan demonstrating a flow that’s long been hypnotic, and the percolating beat helping both along the way, setting up what’s sure to be a club staple across borders in 2023.
Shania Twain, “Giddy Up!”
The story of modern country-pop could not be told without Shania Twain, and as she embarks on a big year that will include a new album and sprawling tour, the legendary singer-songwriter is still serving up crossover singles designed to get hands clapping and butts out of seats. “Giddy Up!” will lead forthcoming album Queen of Me and is indeed a party-starter, all call-and-response problem-shedding and frothy lines written for Friday night gatherings; by the time the acoustic strumming has segued to electric riffing, you’ll find that you, too, would like to shout “Giddy up.”
Yahritza Y Su Esencia, “Cambiaste”
Anyone paying close-enough attention to the rapid rise of Yahritza Y Su Esencia last year understood that the Regional Mexican trio’s TikTok success would probably not be ephemeral — the talents of Yahritza Martinez, and her older brothers Armando and Jairo, were too distinct to ignite and then dissipate. New single “Cambiaste” relies heavily upon Yahritza’s pleading voice and Mando’s 12-string guitar, but that formula remains effective — if not even more emotionally harrowing, especially as the song circles around and then hammers down during the finale.
Skrillex feat. PinkPantheress & Trippie Redd, “Way Back”
After returning earlier this week with “Rumble,” a teeth-smashing dance-rap track featuring Fred again.. and Flowdan, Skrillex has kicked off 2023 with another intriguing three-artist summit: “Way Back,” with PinkPantheress and Trippie Redd, sizzles in the places that “Rumble” shimmers, with Trippie handed hook duties and PinkPantheress weaving a compelling story within a single verse. Both songs are relatively short — “Way Back” clocks in at under two minutes — but are satisfying enough to raise hopes that the year will bring more tunes from a rejuvenated Skrillex.
Ice Spice, “In Ha Mood”
“I’m proud that I’m still gettin’ bigger / Goin’ viral is gettin’ ’em sicker,” Ice Spice raps on the victory-lap single “In Ha Mood.” The Bronx rapper, fresh off of gaining well-deserved fame for her Internet sensation “Munch (Feelin’ U),” serves up another drill track with a refrain that’s primed for TikTok users to feast upon — but “In Ha Mood” is also snappier and more lyrically dense than Ice Spice’s past offerings, allowing her to swoop down upon her naysayers with a sharpened sword.