There’s a lot of new heat to catch up on this weekend. J. Cole is back with new music from his forthcoming album The Fall Off, and he has a lot to say. Gunna dropped off the deluxe version of WUNNA, featuring a standout collaboration with Lil Uzi Vert. After taking a break from music, Ski Mask the Slump God has returned with his politically-charged anthem, “Burn the Hoods.” Chase B and Don Toliver united on a new track from their upcoming joint album, titled Escapism. Flo Milli, Taylor Swift, and Headie One also have fans talking this week.
Here is the best new music of the week. And check out our playlist on Spotify for more of the latest drops here.
J. Cole, “The Climb Back”
On “The Climb Back,” J. Cole taps back into his mixtape days. The record, which was solely produced by Cole, finds the rapper reflecting on the paths that he and his friends have taken. While he references his own musical career and past hoops dreams (similar to what he wrote about in more detail in his essay for the Player’s Tribune), Cole also paints a vivid picture of the ways in which clout and violence have affected both him and the people around him. “The Climb Back” was released in preparation of Cole’s upcoming album, The Fall Off, which he said is still in the works. But the track suggests that Cole has a lot more to say when the album comes around. —Jessica McKinney
Gunna f/ Lil Uzi Vert, “Relentless”
Gunna is back with more music from his top-charting album, WUNNA. “Relentless” is one of the standout tracks from the deluxe version, which finds Gunna and Lil Uzi Vert reuniting once again. Over a Wheezy-produced beat, Gunna raps about coming out of the trenches and rising to fame, while Uzi keeps it light with bars about designers brands, whips, and women. Gunna and Uzi have both been on fire this year, releasing acclaimed studio albums, and it looks like their run isn’t done just yet. —Jessica McKinney
Ski Mask the Slump God, “Burn the Hoods”
“Burn the Hoods” is a politically-charged record that finds Ski Mask the Slum God addressing the current unrest around the world. The title itself is a reference to the KKK, but on the record, Ski Mask also takes aim at a number of other targets. He slams Donald Trump and condemns racism and police brutality. “Burn the Hoods” marks Ski Mask’s first single of 2020. And while he wouldn’t be the first artist to react to the political climate on wax, he definitely makes a statement with his latest song. Read him talk about the song in a new interview with Complex here. —Jessica McKinney
Bobby Sessions, “Made A Way”
“Made A Way” is a triumphant record that finds Bobby Sessions celebrating his come-up, as he raps about the many obstacles he’s faced throughout his life. Despite experiencing a lot of hardship, he was able to find a way to overcome it all. “Made it out the streets/Made it out the beast/ Made it from the bottom, now we strive to reach the peak,” he spits. The track’s inspirational message is nicely supported by a soulful gospel chorus and a buoyant beat. “Made A Way” appears in FIFA21 and is expected to be included on Bobby’s next project. —Jessica McKinney
Taylor Swift, “Cardigan”
“Cardigan,” the first lead single released concurrently with an album in Taylor Swift’s career is a departure from her radio-ready hits of the past, but it might be a disservice to describe the Jack Antonoff-produced track as “stripped down.” Sure, there may be less going on here than we’re used to hearing from Taylor, but these songs are not acoustic takes left on the Lover cutting room floor. Part of a trilogy of songs about a high school love triangle, “Cardigan” represents Taylor’s willingness to pull from fiction, history, and her imagination for song material—something she’s done more on this album than ever before. “I found myself not only writing my own stories, but also writing about and from the perspective of people I’ve never met,” Taylor writes in a note released with the project. Her eighth studio album forgoes the summer that wasn’t. The sixteen tracks each contain the same astute lyricism as you hear in “Cardigan.” You won't find any big anthems or heavy synths or Max Martin-laced production. Instead, America’s biggest (and perhaps most polarizing) pop star wipes her slate clean. In a year when Twitter is obsessed with finding cultural resets, Taylor offers her fans a musical one, punctuated by the strongest songwriting of her career. —Waiss Aramesh
Chase B & Don Toliver f/ Gunna, “Cafeteria”
Chase B has finally dropped his collaboration with fellow Cactus Jack artist Don Toliver (plus Gunna) after previewing the track on the second season premiere of Apple Music’s .WAV Radio earlier this week. “Cafeteria” is a catchy record that is bound to find its way onto TikTok, but it’s Don Toliver’s unique voice gliding over the smooth beat that really boosts the track’s appeal. “Cafeteria” will appear on Chase B and Don Toliver’s upcoming album Escapism, which Chase says is on the way. —Jessica McKinney
Flo Milli, “Pockets Bigger”
“Pockets Bigger” is Flo Milli doing what she does best. She’s notably cocky and bougie, as she takes aim at her haters. “Got em yellin’ Flo Milli shit up in they face/And I’m stealin’ the spot that these hoes wanna take,” she raps. While the Flo Milli reps Alabama, her delivery on “Pockets Bigger” has a Cali girl vibe that would fit perfectly on the soundtrack of a Clueless reboot. Flo Milli has been trending on Twitter the past few hours due to her newly-released project Ho, why is you here? —Jessica McKinney
Earl Sweatshirt, “Ghost”
“Ghost” sounds like a classic rap song, thanks to its soulful sample and Earl Sweatshirt’s steady flow. Earl recruited Brooklyn rapper Navy Blue, who shares anecdotes about his father (“I know my pops guilty cause he left ‘em/I wore his blessings, honorary cloak/And sacred Yoruba is what he spoke”). “Ghost” appears on the deluxe version of Earl Sweatshirt’s Feet of Clay, which was originally released in 2019.
Headie One f/ Drake, “Only You Freestyle”
“Only You Freestyle” is the latest UK drill anthem, which finds Headie One joining forces with Drake. On the track, Drake kicks off with a grime-inspired flow, seemingly taking aim at Pusha-T and Kanye West again. “Shit you man been droppin’ lately/Don’t make me have to fly my iTunes/So much people buy into my hype/Don’t make me have to buy my hype too/Dealt with the big homie already/Don’t make me have to side-by-side you,” he spits before briefly rapping in Arabic. On “Only You Freestyle,” Headie One proves his dominance across the pond, while Drake shows that his interest in UK drill is far from over. —Jessica McKinney
Jaden, “Cabin Fever”
“Cabin Fever” is a funky record where Jaden taps into his more romantic side. On the track, he longs for the companionship of a specific girl. His singing sounds like he’s caught in a daze. “I wanna feel your body on me/Tall palm trees and kaleidoscope dreams/I’m at home thinking ‘bout you and me,” he sings. “Cabin Fever” has a different sound from the dark and experimental instrumentation that appeared on 2019’s ERYS, but it is still enjoyable and has the appropriate tone for summer. —Jessica McKinney