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, Travis Scott and Kid Cudi are a new dynamic duo, Juice WRLD’s voice retains its power and Gente De Zona recruits Becky G for a big new single. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
The Song From Hip-Hop’s Newest Supergroup:
Travis Scott & Kid Cudi, “The Scotts"
After linking up for a handful of one-off collaborations, most recently the Astroworld highlight “Stop Trying To Be God,” Travis Scott and Kid Cudi appear to have even bigger plans together: meet ‘The Scotts,’ a new duo whose eponymous single was debuted as part of a live Fortnite event. Whatever this partnership becomes, “The Scotts” marks a solid starting point, in which Scott pulls Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi into his domain of clipped bars and ad-libs, while frequent Cudi collaborator Dot Da Genius co-produces a bass-heavy beat. At under three minutes, “The Scotts” hopefully teases a more substantial endeavor -- placing these two voices side-by-side has worked in the past, and works again here.
The Song That Will Get You Teary-Eyed All Over Again:
Juice WRLD, "Righteous"
“I know that the truth is hard to digest,” Juice WRLD sings on the second line of “Righteous”; the lyric refers to his own anxieties, but four months after the hip-hop star’s untimely death at the age of 21, it’s difficult not to place the words in the context of this sad reality. Juice WRLD had established himself as an expert at juxtaposing wondrously catchy hooks with crushing vulnerability, and the posthumous single “Righteous” once again demonstrates that skill, fashioning an immediate emo-rap anthem out of unrestrained thoughts on drug addiction and personal decay. “Righteous” hurts to hear, but Juice WRLD’s music was always mesmerizing in its unflinching storytelling, and this single is no different than some of his best work.
The Song That Will Cause You To Spontaneously Dance Across Your Living Room:
Gente De Zona & Becky G, "Muchacha"
“All we want is to send everybody a little bit of happiness into their homes and think of something different for the three minutes the song lasts,” Randy Malcom, of Cuban reggaeton duo Gente De Zona, recently told Billboard of the group’s new collaboration with Becky G. Indeed, “Muchacha” provides a shot of much-needed euphoria, as Gente De Zona adopt a breathless pace on a track that slides into a sing-along, steel drum-laden chorus. Fresh off another solo winner with the single “They Ain’t Ready,” Becky G matches her collaborators step-for-step, singing and rapping in rapid-fire fashion before joining in on the chorus If “Muchacha” was meant to provide distraction from the world’s many problems, consider us happily sidetracked.
The Song That Will Make You Feel Like You’re In a John Hughes Movie:
The 1975, "If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)"
Not every song by the 1975 is designed to sound like a world-unifying pop smash, but the quartet can flex that muscle rather effortlessly when they want to -- think “The Sound,” or “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” or, now, the rapturous “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).” Matty Healy and the boys dig into their bag of ’80s-inspired tricks and come up with a deliriously cheeky romantic comedy, with heavy synthesizers and horn blasts soundtracking a digital meet-cute that becomes heavier than an online infatuation. When the 1975 commit to major-key pop, they are rivaled by very few artists on the planet; “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” is the latest gem in that lineage, and we’re grateful for it.
The EP That Could Soundtrack Any Afternoon Hang-Out:
Wiz Khalifa, The Saga of Wiz Khalifa EP
As we approach the 10-year anniversary of “Black & Yellow” reaching the top of the Hot 100 chart, Wiz Khalifa has become a beloved elder statesman in hip-hop, settled in his skin yet vital enough to stand comfortably alongside the hottest names in hip-hop on any given track. New EP The Saga of Wiz Khalifa is more star-studded than a typical Khalifa project -- Megan Thee Stallion, Mustard and Ty Dolls $ign all show up, and that’s just on the opening track, “Y U Mad” -- but its highlights come from Wiz being Wiz, whether on the Dr. Dre homage “Still Wiz” or on the invigorating Quavo team-up “Out In Space.” At 20 minutes, The Saga of Wiz Khalifa sounds like a warm check-in with an old friend who’s always got some exciting stories to tell.
The Song That Will Have You Daydreaming of Summer Fun:
Breland feat. Sam Hunt, "My Truck" (remix)
Breland’s country-trap breakthrough “My Truck” has garnered comparisons to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” since becoming a hit for the Atlanta native... and with a flashy new remix, it will invite more of them. Instead of turning to country’s past for a guest star, however, Breland has tapped Sam Hunt, fresh off the release of his own sophomore album, to put his spin on the song’s chest-beating mantra, and Hunt sounds at home spitting rhymes about his truck with a hint of twang and a gigantic grin. “My Truck” shouldn’t stand in the shadow of any song, even a Hot 100 record-breaker, and Hunt’s addition to the track only strengthens its singular appeal.
The Song That Will Make You Want To Call Your Significant Other:
Maluma’s “Amor De Mi Vida,” or “ADMV,” is dripping in romance, as its title suggests, as the Colombian superstar bares his soul alongside an acoustic guitar and little else. That’s a difficult proposition for any artist, especially one with an arsenal of uptempo singles to fall back on, but Maluma pulls it off with an impressive vocal take that quickens slightly in tempo as the song progresses but never stumbles over itself. Maluma can operate over slick dance beats, but he’s perhaps even more potent in this mode -- by the time he chuckles to himself at the end of “ADMV,” he’s got you in the palm of his band.
The EP That Finds Its Groove and Never Lets Go:
Kali Uchis, To Feel Alive EP
“I just wanna feel something,” Kali Uchis declares on the title track of her new EP. In her first proper project since her great 2018 album Isolation, the singer-songwriter dives headfirst into a well of emotions -- sexual freedom, self-doubt, missing family and overcoming outside vitriol -- while turning to her palette of R&B, rock, soul and funk. A song like "Angel" showcases what Uchis is capable of accomplishing as a songwriter, revealing her inner thoughts and wrapping them in a glittery package; there are moments across To Feel Alive that urge you to do just that, and increase our hunger for a new Uchis full-length.
The Song That Will Make You Wish That Clubs Were Still Open:
Charli XCX, “Claws”
In this time of remaining quarantined, Charli XCX continues to release pop bangers that frustrate with their neon-coated dance appeal: “Claws,” the latest track from her in-the-works How I’m Feeling project, sounds like 2:30 AM during an amazing night out with friends, bleary-eyed but blissful in its imagery (“We’re so high, roller coaster ride, diamond bright, kiss me right, yeah,” she sings). Partial credit goes to Dylan Brady of 100 gecs, who produced the track and provided Charli with a pristine elastic playground; “Claws” sounds beamed in from the future, but its robotic whirring has found a human host in the singer, who’s ready to return to the party, just like the rest of us.