This week, Beyoncé made us all stop in our collective tracks to relive her iconic performance at Coachella 2018, releasing a Netflix special and a surprise 40-track live album on Wednesday. But that wasn’t the extent of this week’s musical gifts. We also received a Mustard-produced album from 03 Greedo, more solo tracks from Kevin Abstract, a three-song EP from Jaden Smith, a Smokepurpp tape, a star-studded Game of Thrones single, and much more. Reflecting the bountiful week, this is easily the longest Best New Music list we’ve published all year.
These are the best new songs this week.
Beyoncé, “Before I Let Go”
Beyoncé’s cover of this Frankie Beverly and Maze classic is loaded with as many cultural meanings and associations as the rest of her Homecoming live album, for which this is a bonus cut. For a primer on all of those, please read this stellar Julian Kimble piece immediately. The track, which contains an interpolation of Cameo’s “Candy,” easily carries the cultural weight, while still remaining fun and accessible. Now that the weather is warming up, expect to hear DJs of all stripes blending this song with the original. Trust that it will work every single time. —Shawn Setaro
03 Greedo, “Bet I Walk”
No one else on Leonardo DiCaprio’s green Earth talks flavorful cash shit as wonderfully as 03 Greedo. His new Mustard-produced album (evidently recorded after receiving his lengthy prison sentence, but before going in) is anything but burdened. In fact, it’s unbothered, head held high off the Avon Barksdale aphorism that one only achieves two days inside: the day you get in, and the day you get out. Maybe that’s why he spends “Bet I Walk” flexing his ass off, declaring that he’ll saunter in prison wearing each piece of ice, and daring you to doubt him. Why would you, after everything he’s done? Just in case anyone still does, though, he saves the last 50-odd seconds for shit-talking that plays like his anti-Tupac promo run of last summer, on wax. Free this man immediately. —Frazier Tharpe
SOB X RBE & Hit-Boy, “Family Not a Group”
Less than a week after dropping a three-tracker with EDM star Marshmallo, the mighty SOB X RBE drove by to drop off another heater in the form of Family Not a Group, a chunky nine-track album with Hit Boy. Those forces combining is certified mob music, and while standouts like "Both Sides" and "Young Wild Niggas" will keep your trunks rattling, the title track is the true banger from the project. A whole anthem, the crew rides that FAWNKY Hit Boy instrumental with ease. On the highest of keys, SOB X RBE might need to make Hit-Boy the Mike Will of their project. This is perfect. —khal
Kevin Abstract, “Corpus Christi”
Whenever an artist names a song after the town they grew up in, you know they’re about to get some shit off their chest. Kevin Abstract’s “Corpus Christi” is no exception. Over guitar-driven production, the Brockhampton ringleader delivers strikingly honest lines about the ups and downs of his success over the past two years. “I wonder if Ameer think about me, or what he think about me,” he raps, acknowledging the emotionally nuanced situation surrounding the former Brockhampton member’s departure from the group following allegations of abuse. Abstract recently clarified that the group will continue making music together, despite his recent string of solo releases, but these songs prove once again that he has the talent and charisma to navigate a long career on his own footing. —Eric Skelton
Shy Glizzy, “Demons”
Young Jefe ducked the sophomore slump like a motherfucker, and that’s immediately apparent on the first handful of songs that lead off his new album, Covered N Blood. “Volcano” has been out so it’s N/A for this list, but this one right here? Glizzy gets in his bag over triumphant production to once again explain why he’s not you, rapper. “I ain't goin' inside no strip club 'less it's fuckin' raining/I ain't goin' out on my opps unless the chopper singing.” Heard you, holmes. —Frazier Tharpe
Valee, “You & Me Both”
After signing with G.O.O.D. Music at the top of 2018, Chicago rapper Valee emerged as one of rap’s brightest emerging stars last summer with his breakout single, “Womp Womp.” The off-kilter collaboration with Jeremih showcased Valee’s laid-back flow which, according to some, has already been ripped by established superstars like Nicki Minaj and Tyler, the Creator. Fittingly, on Good Friday, G.O.O.D.’s promising new rapper delivered his latest single, “You & Me Both.” Like “Womp Womp,” Valee (backed by minimalist production courtesy of ChaseTheMoney) is able to transform the low-key cut into a whole vibe. —Brad Callas
The top comment under the YouTube upload for Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You standout, “Jerome,” reads, “Just died a little and I ain’t even know nobody named Jerome.” True. Lizzo says she was inspired by career-defining albums like Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You when she recorded her major label debut, and those ambitions come through clearly on songs like “Jerome.” Until now, Lizzo was most well-known for fun, upbeat offerings like “Juice” and “Good as Hell,” but her full range of abilities come into focus here. This is timeless, and ultra-relatable (even if you don't know a Jerome). —Eric Skelton
Jaden Smith, “Pass”
On the eve of another weekend performance at Coachella, Jaden Smith teased his forthcoming sophomore album, ERYS, by dropping a surprise EP on Friday titled ERYS IS COMING. Just days after he appeared to have officially adopted his first name as his stage moniker, dropping "Smith" from streaming platforms, the three-track project offers a glimpse at what his new album may sound like: loud, resentful, and more profane. The best of the three songs, “Pass,” moves with an unease that’s intensified by its foreboding production, as Jaden swaggers through the chorus, rapping, “I’m off the edge/I ain’t been this fucked up in a sec.” If this is the dawn of a new era in the career of the artist formerly known as Jaden Smith, sign me up. —Brad Callas
The Weeknd, SZA, & Travis Scott, "Power Is Power"
Game of Thrones is really out here trying to dominate every aspect of pop culture, huh? Getting every Twitter trend on Sunday nights (and their own branded Oreos) wasn’t enough. They went and got three of the biggest artists in the world to join forces for a new song that, with all those lines about snow, sounds like a track left on the Black Panther soundtrack edit floor. That being said, the song is enjoyable as hell for a Weeknd stan, like myself, who has been starved for new music. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Weeknd is a self-described fan of the show, adding “officially Khaleesi’s sex toy” to his Instagram bio back in the day. But let’s be honest, SZA steals this song. Her vocals float over this “Pray For Me” recycled beat, giving us a taste as to what she’s got in the chamber for the rest of 2019. “Heavy is the crown,” but not for our queen who really needs to drop a follow-up to Ctrl. —Waiss Aramesh
Smokepurpp f/ Gunna, “Baguettes”
After blowing up with the rest of the SoundCloud generation in 2017, Smokepurpp watched several of his peers explode into the mainstream last year—notably XXXTentacion, Lil Pump, Trippie Redd, and Juice WRLD—while he failed to quite re-create the energy of his breakthrough project (2017’s Deadstar) on his second mixtape, 2018’s Bless Yo Trap. He's back on track now, though, tapping Gunna for “Baguettes,” the A Lau and Tony Seltzer-produced opening track from his new tape, Lost Planet. On their second-ever collaboration (following last year’s “Bless Yo Drip”) Purpp does much of the heavy lifting, alongside a scene-stealing opening verse from Gunna. —Brad Callas
French Montana f/ Blueface & Lil Tjay, “Slide”
While it’s fair to argue that French Montana has yet to release a full-length LP that’s on par with some of his best mixtapes, he’s still positioned himself as a pop-rap icon on the strength of several bangers. Arriving as a single from his forthcoming follow-up to 2017’s Jungle Rules, “Slide” follows in the footsteps of two of his biggest singles—2017’s “Unforgettable” featuring Swae Lee, and 2016’s “Lockjaw” featuring Kodak Black—and it sees French capitalizing on the buzz of one of the year’s hottest rookies, Blueface, along with fellow Bronx native Lil Tjay. Over a minimalist beat that’s built around piano licks and 808s kicks, the two young rappers are given room to shine, but Montana remains the star of the show. —Brad Callas
Flipp Dinero, “If I Tell You”
Following a massive song like “Leave Me Alone” isn’t an easy task, but getting an assist from 2018’s Best Producer Alive, Tay Keith, is a good place to start. Layering his signature raspy vocals over a notably springy beat from the Memphis producer, Dinero delivers another sunny, pop-inflected hit. Coupling “If I Tell You” with a second Keith-produced song, “Not Too Many,” the Brooklyn rapper makes a strong case that he just might be able to follow his breakout moment with more hits in 2019. —Eric Skelton
Injury Reserve, “Koruna & Lime”
The rise of Injury Reserve—the Arizona rap trio of Ritchie With a T, Stepa J. Groggs, and producer Parker Corey—has been a slow burn. Their new single, however, is anything but. “Koruna & Lime,” which the group shared on Friday, after announcing the release date for their self-titled debut album (May 17), is a major leap forward for the trio. Laced with a bouncy beat courtesy of in-house producer Will Hastey, both MCs brings their A-game, but Ritchie shines brightest thanks to a wild closing verse full of quotables like, “They say they want that spazz rap, yeah/But now we got these n****s' trunks/Soundin' like it's Baghdad.” —Brad Callas
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