Some of our favorite artists delivered new music on the first Friday of the 2020s, as a handful of rising hip-hop acts kicked off the year with new projects: Sada Baby (Brolik), G Herbo (Sessions), and Famous Dex (Dexter 2031), among others. Beyond the full-length offerings, some of the best new music this week came in the form of singles: Mick Jenkins’ “Carefree”; Justin Bieber’s “Yummy”; Quando Rondo, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and 2 Chainz’s “Bad Vibe”; Moneybagg Yo and Lil Baby’s “U Played”; Lil Tjay’s “2020”; and more. These are the best new songs this week.
Follow our accompanying Best New Music playlist on Spotify here.
Mick Jenkins, “Carefree”
Since his 2018 album, Pieces of a Man, we’ve been patiently awaiting the return of Mick Jenkins. This week, after announcing the release date of his new album, The Circus (January 10), Jenkins dropped his latest single, “Carefree.” Produced by Black Milk, the song sees Mick waxing poetic over a backdrop comprised of moody synths and silky piano keys: “We don’t duck sh*t, we was coolin’ I said we don’t want smoke/So when the cops pull up it was Pop Smoke,” he raps. The Circus is expected to feature a handful of producers, like Hit-Boy, Black Milk, Da-P, DJFU, and Beat Butcha. EarthGang, will also make a guest appearance on a song titled “The Light.” —Brad Callas
Justin Bieber, “Yummy”
Over four years since the release of his 2015 album, Purpose, Justin Bieber returns with his latest single, “Yummy.” The pivot back to R&B is refreshing for those who were fans of his slept-on 2013 project, Journals, and “Yummy” sees the pop star delivering silky vocals over a backdrop that’s at times reminiscent of his 2016 collaboration with Post Malone, “Deja Vu.” And while the hook features a somewhat regrettable baby-talk repetition of “yummy-yum,” the song is likely to soundtrack the first few weeks of the new year, if only because J Biebs is unfuckwitable at this point. R&B Justin is back. —Brad Callas
Quando Rondo f/ A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie & 2 Chainz, “Bad Vibe”
Quando Rondo has yet to have the true, major mainstream breakout moment he deserves, but it just might have came this week in the form of “Bad Vibe,” his new collaboration with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and 2 Chainz. Rumored to be a single from his forthcoming album, QPac, the song is a hazy ode to nightlife, and finds Rondo contemplating the reality of finding love in the club. “You’re the only one keep my demons tame, I swear you grow up, but you never change,” he sing-raps, before A Boogie and 2 Chainz come through with scene-stealing verses of their own. —Brad Callas
Moneybagg Yo f/ Lil Baby, “U Played”
Can you imagine a better way to start off 2020 than with a cold, hard-hitting beat from Tay Keith? This week, Moneybagg Yo celebrated the new year by linking with fellow Memphis native Tay Keith on “U Played,” a ruthless, bass-heavy track begging to be played in a car with irresponsibly large speakers. For good measure, he added the vocal stylings of Lil Baby, who just announced the incoming arrival of his own album, My Turn. Go ahead and judge the book by its cover this time, because like the “U Played” single artwork suggests, this is heat. —Eric Skelton
Lil Tjay, “20/20”
Over the past few years, somber piano licks have become the backbone of melodic street rap, serving as the soundscape for Chicago crooners like Polo G and Calboy, along with New York’s rap prince, Lil Tjay. After using piano-driven beats for the bulk of October’s True 2 Myself, the 17-year-old Bronx rapper returns to the mold on his latest single, “20/20.” The reflective track sees Tjay reveal that, despite his newfound fame, he stays dreaming: “I’mma soon be the greatest,” he raps in the closing verse. —Brad Callas
Sada Baby, “WWF”
Sada Baby has been on the rise for a few years now. Following the release of “Bloxk Party,” a ridiculously fun collaboration with fellow Detroit rapper Drego, Sada Baby delivered one of the best mixtapes of 2019 with Bartier Bounty. A few months removed from the release of his October mixtape, Whoop Tape, Sada returns with his latest project, Brolik, which features a number of other buzzing stars, including Hoodrich Pablo Juan, BlocBoy JB, Fredo Bang, and G Herbo. An early standout, the blistering “WWF,” highlights much of what he does best, including variety of muttering ad-libs, run-on sentences, and wistful pop culture references. —Brad Callas