The last Friday of the decade delivered on the new music front, as we were blessed with Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack compilation project, JACKBOYS; Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir album, Jesus Is Born; Ariana Grande’s Sweetener world tour live LP, K Bye For Now; and more. Beyond the full-length offerings, some of the best new music this week came in the form of singles: Drake’s “War”; Tyler, the Creator’s “Group B”; NLE Choppa and Meek Mill’s “Cruze”; Burna Boy’s “Money Play”; and Smino, Monte Booker and Masego’s “Sleigh.” These are the best new songs this week. 

Follow our accompanying Best New Music playlist on Spotify here.

Drake, “War”

Following a relatively quiet 2019, Drake decided to end the year with a warning shot in the form of “War,” which doubles as a freestyle-in-between-hits type of song that Drizzy has become known for (see: “5 AM In Toronto,” “Draft Day,” “4 PM In Calabasas”). Over a UK drill beat courtesy of AXL Beats—who’s had success bringing the drill sound to America with artists like Fivio Foreign (“Big Drip”)—the 6 God channels the UK accent he used on More Life’s “No Long Talk” and last year’s “Behind Barz” freestyle, delivering a pure rap cut filled with plenty of boasts (“I don’t cop things for resale, don’t do iCloud, don’t do email”) and Instagram-worthy captions (“You n****s spend too much time on captions, not enough time on action”). Hopefully, a follow-up to Scorpion is on the horizon. —Brad Callas

JACKBOYS with Travis Scott f/ Young Thug, “Out West”

After joining forces on last week’s deluxe edition of So Much Fun (“Hop Off A Jet”), Travis and Thugger link up again on “Out West,” an early standout from Scott’s Cactus Jack compilation album, JACKBOYS. Backed by Jabz and Buddha Bless’ mesmerizing flute loop, Thug raps explicit bars about receiving oral sex from another man’s woman (“Your bitch cheatin’, she under my cover, we cuddle and shit”), while Trav sounds like a changed man, his newfound status atop the rap game producing a wiser version of La Flame, with lines like, “These days, I balance all the hate out with the love.” Travis Scott and Young Thug remain undefeated. —Brad Callas

Tyler, the Creator, “Group B”

This week, along with celebrating the 10th anniversary of his breakthrough mixtape, 2009’s Bastard, Tyler, the Creator dropped a pair of new songs: “Best Interest,” which Tyler describes as “a song that i never got to fully finish from IGOR sessions…didn’t want it to sit on a hard drive,” and “Group B,” a “random song from last week that has nothing to do with IGOR.” The stronger of the two tracks, “Group B,” boasts a chopped soul sample similar to much of the sonic palette that backed IGOR, as Tyler references his recent Grammy nomination, among other casually absurd brags, before bringing things to a close with presumptuous name-drop of child activist Greta Thunberg: “Foot is on the gas/I ain’t letting off/Every car is gas/Pissing Greta off.” Never change, Tyler. —Brad Callas

NLE Choppa f/ Meek Mill, “Cruze”

After dropping Cottonwood last week, Memphis breakout rapper NLE Choppa tacks on a new closer to the EP, “Cruze.” Over a guitar-laden beat produced by Turbo, Meek Mill handles hook duties as he compares himself to Charles Manson (“I really be ballin' and poppin' that shit like I do on my captions/I done be Manson/Run at the rats and/I know these n****s ain't talking to me, I don't give them reactions”), before delivering a scene-stealing opening verse of his own. From there, Choppa finishes things off with a closing verse that reminds listeners he’s really about that life: “He spread that rumor, so the hollow tips start spreading through his body/My n****s really killin', we don't give a fuck what your hidin'/I don't care if you was Donald Trump, I spend any bodies/How the fuck is you a steppa, you ain't killed nobody.” —Brad Callas

Sunday Service Choir, “Ultralight Beam”

An early standout from Jesus Is Born—released on Christmas and credited to Sunday Service Choir—“Ultralight Beam” delivers on the promise of the weekly spiritual sessions, as a Kanye-led choir re-works The Life Of Pablo opener to perfection. Even though this version doesn’t feature Chance’s excellent guest spot, it shines on the strength of the choir’s god-like harmonizing and goosebump-inducing vocals. —Brad Callas

Burna Boy, “Money Play”

After dropping his critically and commercially-acclaimed album, July’s African King, Burna Boy ends the year in convincing fashion with “Money Play.” In a press release for new the single, the Nigerian pop star says, “I’m highlighting the importance of moving with the ‘cheese’ at all times. No dey carry money play’ is a word of advice/stern warning to never lose the hustle mentality.” In that same breath, then, consider “Money Play” the exclamation point on Burna Boy’s breakout year. —Brad Callas

Smino w/ Monte Booker & Masego, “Sleigh”

Arriving right on time to soundtrack your post-Christmas debauchery is “Sleigh,” a cut from Smino’s two-track EP, High 4 Da Holidays. The smooth, jazz-infused song sees the Chicago wordsmith asking Santa Clause for adderall and weed, while Masego contributes a slick guest verse over Monte Booker’s thumping 808s. —Brad Callas

Kehlani f/ Keyshia Cole, “All Me”

After dropping a snippet of the song weeks ago, Kehlani caps off a big year by teaming up with Keyshia Cole on “All Me.” Fervor reached the point of #DropTheSongKehlani trending on Twitter, with the R&B singer noting, “I’ve never had a song hype like this before it dropped. This wasn’t my planned single,  isn’t a part of the roll out for my album.” With a verse and a hook that even love cynics can appreciate, ’Lani shouts out her significant other, emphasizing how much better they make each other. Big props to these two queens dropping a Valentine’s Day anthem a few weeks early (and for those going stag into 2020). The song’s bounce and catchy hook will keep this one on repeat for us until Kehlani drops her new album sometime in early 2020. —Waiss Aramesh

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