The hip-hop world came out swinging on New Music Friday, as we were blessed with new projects from Gang Starr (One of the Best Yet), Earl Sweatshirt (FEET OF CLAY), Westside Gunn (Hitler Wears Hermes 7), Lil Peep (GOTH ANGEL SINNER), and more. Beyond the full-length projects, some of the best music this week came in the form of singles: Tame Impala’s “It Might Be Time,” Miguel’s “Funeral,” dvsn and Future’s “No Cryin’,” 21 Savage’s “Immortal,” Vince Staples’ “Sheet Music,” Travis Scott’s remix of Young Thug and Gunna’s “Hot,” and Ski Mask the Slump God’s “Carbonated Water.” These are the best new songs this week.
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Young Thug f/ Gunna & Travis Scott, “Hot (Remix)”
Young Thug and Travis Scott are incapable of making a bad song together. Their track record as a collaborative duo speaks for itself: “Mamacita” (2014), “Skyfall” (2014), “Maria, I'm Drunk” (2015), “Floyd Mayweather” (2016), “Pick Up The Phone” (2016), “Up to Something” (2018), “The London” (2019). This week, Thugger and Travis joined forces once again on the official remix of “Hot,” the Gunna-assisted standout cut from Thug’s debut studio album, So Much Fun. It should come as no surprise that Trav fits seamlessly into Wheezy’s horn-heavy production, enhancing the original song with his backing vocals and scene-stealing closing verse. Thugger and La Flame remain undefeated.
21 Savage, “Immortal”
The second anniversary of Without Warning, the 21 Savage-Offset-Metro Boomin collaborative album that served as the soundtrack for Halloween 2017, arrived with some bad news and some good news. Metro took to Twitter to relay the bad news, shutting down rumors of a sequel in a tweet that read, “There is no Without Warning 2 and I’m not even sure where these rumors began. I appreciate everyone’s love for the first album but everything doesn’t need a sequel!” As for the good news: 21 Savage made sure that Halloween 2019 wasn’t a complete waste, by dropping a spooky single, “Immortal,” which finds him rapping about his murderous tendencies over a haunting beat.
Earl Sweatshirt f/ Mavi, “EL TORO COMBO MEAL”
It’s still too early to determine the standout song from Earl Sweatshirt’s new seven-song project, FEET OF CLAY, but, upon first pass, it appears that the project’s emotional center is the Mavi-assisted “EL TORO COMBO MEAL.” For a rapper who has made a career off discussing dark subject matter, it’s oddly fitting that perhaps the most heart-wrenching cut from FEET OF CLAY is backed by the project’s sunniest production. In fact, it’s fair to argue that Ovrkast’s warm instrumental is brighter than anything on last year’s Some Rap Songs. In the end, it caters to Earl’s passionate closing verse, which features the most refreshing sports reference of 2019: “Pistons roarin' like I'm Rasheed/Pistons roarin' like I'm Ben Wallace/Pistons roarin' like Chauncey/Fill up somethin' 'cause I been drivin'.” (Full disclosure: I was born and raised in Detroit).
Vince Staples, “Sheet Music”
Following the release of his “So What?” music video in August, Vince Staples returns with his latest single, “Sheet Music.” Backed by sparkling, pop-leaning production that sounds reminiscent of ILoveMakonnen’s 2014 self-titled EP, the track sees the Long Beach rapper pivot toward the melodic, sing-song style that has dominated rap radio for most of the decade. “Sheet Music” was accompanied by the release of the second episode of The Vince Staples Show, which features cameo appearances from Buddy and Ray J.
Tame Impala, “It Might Be Time”
It’s been over four years since Tame Impala’s critically-acclaimed third studio album, 2015’s Currents, which marks the longest stretch of time between any of the Australian band’s albums. Thankfully, their highly-anticipated return has been well worth the wait. After releasing two singles this spring, Tame Impala returns with “It Might Be Time,” the newest cut off the band’s fourth studio album, The Slow Rush, which is slated to arrive on Valentine’s Day next year. Inspired by ’70s psych-rock, the song finds frontman Kevin Parker reflecting on the passage of time, a signature theme for the group: “I’m only tired of all these voices/Always saying nothing lasts forever,” he laments. “It might be time to face it/You ain’t as young as you used to be.”
Ever the musical-sexual genius, Miguel has spent the past decade crafting various types of bedroom bangers. Beyond his signature one-sided pursuits (see: “Quickie” and “P**** Is Mine”) and romantic ballads (“Sure Thing” and “Adorn”), there’s songs like “Do You…,” which finds him using drugs as a metaphor for romance. Miguel’s new single, “Funeral,” is another example of the latter, as he uses images that are associated with death as a metaphor for a sexual encounter. Backed by surging synths, the bass-heavy electro instrumental caters to the r&b singer’s sultry lyrics: “Send my regards to the mother and father/ ‘Cause somebody’s daughter I just fucking slayed,” he sings in the grim chorus. “Blood on the carpet, it came from my heart/ Once I start, I can’t stop it, and now we are prey.”
Gang Starr f/ Group Home & Royce da 5’9, “What’s Real”
While “Lights Out” is already getting shine as the standout cut from Gang Starr’s new album, One of the Best Yet, “What’s Real” is the superior offering, which is to say it features all the ingredients of the Gang Starr golden era: Premo’s chopped-up piano sample and the vocal scratch hook, Guru’s silky smooth voice, and, for good measure, an appearance from Gang Starr Foundation duo, Group Home. Backed by a sample of the 1996 Fugees/Tribe/Busta posse cut, “Rumble In the Jungle,” Guru talks his best shit on the opening verse. “I got soldiers that'll turn shit out, burn shit out/Do I come correctly when it's my turn? No doubt/I twisted trees in the cold with one hand wipin' my nose/Girls say that I'm fly 'cause they be likin' my clothes/But the clothes or the money can't make the man/When I apply my vicious grip, you can't take it, man/Face it and understand, there are no winnings for you/What I'm beginnin' to do, is bring an endin' to you and your crew.”
Lil Peep, “Moving On”
In October 2017, a month before his death, Lil Peep announced plans to release an EP titled GOTH ANGEL SINNER via Twitter. Over two years later, the three-song project has arrived. Produced by regular collaborator Fish Narc, GOTH ANGEL SINNER features the tracks “When I Lie,” “Belgium,” and “Moving On,” the latter of which he performed during multiples shows on what was to be his final tour, namely the Come Over When You’re Sober tour. An early standout, “Moving On” isn’t an easy listen, as it finds the rapper reflecting on the dangerous cycle of drug addiction.
Ski Mask the Slump God, “Carbonated Water”
After previewing the track on Twitter last month, Ski Mask the Slump God is back with “Carbonated Water.” Fans of Ski Mask’s boundless intensity and outlandish sense of humor won’t be disappointed, as the South Florida rapper steamrolls Ronny J’s catchy beat, peppering in a wide variety of pop culture references, from SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents to Bill Nye the Science Guy and South Park.
Westside Gunn f/ Curren$y & Benny the Butcher, “Lucha Bros”
A standout member of Buffalo’s Griselda crew is Westside Gunn, who, over the past five years, has quietly strung together one of the best runs in rap, on the back of his Hitler Wears Hermes series and a pair of critically-acclaimed albums, 2016’s FLYGOD and 2018’s Supreme Blientele. On “Lucha Bros,” a standout cut from the latest edition of his iconic series, Gunn joins forces with a pair of long-time collaborators, underground legend Curren$y, and Griselda brethren Benny the Butcher, as the three wordsmiths trade bars over a lush, soulful beat courtesy of The Alchemist.
dvsn f/ Future, “No Cryin’”
After collaborating with Future on “Tricks On Me,” the outro from The WIZRD, OVO Sound’s r&b duo dvsn tap the trap crooner for their latest single, “No Cryin’.” With producer Ninteen85 behind the boards, singer Daniel Daley tries to get his romantic interest to move on (“No more cryin in the club, girl/You know that wasn’t love, girl”), while Petty Hndrxx comes through with one of his signature coldhearted verses, rapping “Hood n***a forever I put shorties on my leashes/I’m a man of my word, I say fuck you then I mean it/I could stop all this pressure and cop a new compressor/But I’m deep in VIP, ain’t got no time for no lectures.”