The hip-hop world came out swinging on New Music Friday, as we were blessed with new projects from Danny Brown (uknowhatimsayin¿), Summer Walker (Over It), Xanman (Broken), Supa Bwe (Jaguar), Peewee Longway (Long Money), and more. Beyond the full-length projects, some of the best music this week came in the form of singles: Travis Scott’s “Highest In the Room,” Juice WRLD and YoungBoy NBA’s “Bandit,” Young Scooter and Lil Baby’s “Petty,” Pop Smoke and Lil Tjay’s “War,” Gucci Mane and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Big Booty,” BlocBoy JB and NLE Choppa’s “ChopBloc 2,” AJ Tracey’s “Cat Talk,” and Jelani Aryeh’s “Jetfuel.” These are the best new songs this week.
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Travis Scott, “Highest in the Room”
As Don Draper once said, “If you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation.” Travis Scott followed Draper’s motto this week, dropping his first single since last year’s ASTROWORLD, “Highest In The Room,” right as his rumored breakup with Kylie Jenner dominated headlines. Ironically, the woozy banger was initially teased in Jenner’s Kybrow cosmetics ad back in April, before La Flame performed a portion of the song during his set at Rolling Loud Miami in May. Produced by OZ and NIK D, “Highest In the Room” finds Travis alluding to a relationship where love and intoxication have equal weight. “She fill my mind up with ideas,” he raps on the chorus. “I’m the highest in the room/Hope I make it outta here/She saw my eyes she know I’m gone/I see some things that you might fear.”
Danny Brown f/ Blood Orange “Shine”
Danny Brown’s fifth studio album, uknowhatimsayin¿, features a juxtaposition of silliness and seriousness. The LP’s penultimate track, “Shine,” is heavy on the latter, as Brown attempts to numb himself from all the twisted shit he’s seen over the course of life. “This whole world’s deceitful,” he raps. “Gun shots echo could never be peaceful smoking diesel to forget it all.” Backed by stripped-down production from Standing On The Corner and Paul White, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes handles hook duties, before sending us off with a melancholic outro: “The dream is realized, my heart skips a beat/I'm tyin' my feet, the baby can't sleep/Defeat the sun, reach, the furthest relax/The weed is uncertain, why men attacked/Facts is unlocked, dress is untied/Mind could explode, time to cut ties.”
Juice WRLD f/ YoungBoy Never Broke Again, “Bandit”
Fresh off announcing his plans to release a new album on December 2 (his 21st birthday), Juice WRLD recruits YoungBoy NBA for “Bandit.” It’s Juice’s first single since he released his debut album, Death Race For Love, in March. It’s hard to believe that the track is their first collaboration, as Juice and YoungBoy display a chemistry that goes deeper than their similar sing-song rapping style. The catchy single arrives with an accompanying Cole Bennett-directed visual, which is basically a four-minute video of the duo having a casual hang out—but with ATVs, baby alligators, and a safari ride.
Young Scooter f/ Lil Baby, “Petty”
On Young Scooter’s new single “Petty,” the Atlanta OG and Lil Baby have no time for fake-ass opps. It’s a simple request, really: If you’re petty, stay the fuck away from Scooter and Baby. Over a chime-laden trap beat, the Free Bandz rapper gets his point across quickly, rapping, “Petty ass n***a, stay the fuck from ’round me/I got out my situation, now I'm ’bout to sign me/Every day a lituation, all these Freebandz 'round me/You ain't even worth a ten, why the fuck you 'round me?” —Brad Callas
Xanman, “Have You Been”
He’s only 18, but Xanman isn’t new to music. He started rapping around the time he began elementary school and learned Pro Tools alongside cursive. Over the past few years, he’s released around countless mixtapes, cementing his status as one of the DMV’s most prolific rappers. On “Have You Been,” an essential from his album Broken, Xanman uses a warm instrumental from CashMoneyAP to craft a genuine love song. And while, like most tracks in his catalog, the song is only two minutes long, he packs more feeling into those two minutes than most rappers do in double the time. —Brad Callas
AJ Tracey, “Cat Pack”
British rapper AJ Tracey has been riding the momentum of his self-titled album since it dropped last February. With the deluxe edition of his debut LP slated to arrive later this month, Tracey links up with Take A Daytrip for his latest offering, “Cat Pack.” Over grimey production, the rapper delivers a braggadocious record, flexing a transition from daily struggles to living a luxurious lifestyle. “I was in country with a ting on my lap/And now I'm in the club with a ting on my lap,” he brags defiantly.
Pop Smoke f/ Lil Tjay, “War”
From Lil Tecca’s “Ransom” to Pop Smoke’s “Welcome to the Party” to Lil Tjay’s scene-stealing feature on “Pop Out,” New York rap has seen the dawn of a new era over the past few months. This week, the revival continued, as Brooklyn’s Pop Smoke and the Bronx’s Lil Tjay linked up for their new collaboration, “War.” Backed by 808Melo Beats’ stellar production, Tjay’s honeyed melodies blend together quite nicely with Smoke’s raspy delivery, amounting in a banger that should blow through the streets of New York this fall.
Gucci Mane f/ Megan Thee Stallion, “Big Booty”
Despite spending most of his energy this week trading barbs with The Breakfast Club’s Angela Lee, Gucci didn’t let the ongoing feud prevent him from delivering his latest single, “Big Booty,” on Friday. With Guwop’s Woptober II project dropping later this month, the East Atlanta Santa recruits Megan Thee Stallion for a raunchy new song, and Tina Snow doesn’t disappoint. “Big old ass is heavy, shake that shit like jelly/Put me on your plate and slurp that shit up like spaghetti/Man, I make this shit look easy, I ain't tryin', I just be me/I ain't never met a ho I felt like I had to compete with,” she raps over the rugged beat, which includes a sample of 2 Live Crew's “Hoochie Mama.”
Summer Walker f/ Usher, “Come Thru”
Interpolating classic songs often backfires, but we can add Summer Walker to the short list of singers who have done it successfully. On “Come Thru,” a standout track from the singer’s new album, Over It, London On Da Track samples Usher’s 1997 hit “You Make Me Wanna…,” while Walker evokes Usher’s track on the chorus, singing, “You make me wanna come through, quarter after two/Just to put it down on you.” But that’s not all. The King of R&B also shows up with a scene-stealing feature, cementing the steamy duet as a potential soundtrack for the upcoming cuffing season.
BlocBoy JB f/ NLE Choppa, “ChopBloc 2”
Since joining forces with BlocBoy JB on “ChopBloc,” back in January, NLE Choppa has become the hottest star in Memphis rap, on the back of viral hits “Shotta Flow” and “Camelot.” So, it was only a matter of time before the two Memphis rappers reunited for another collaboration. Their latest, “ChopBloc 2,” is well worth the wait. Over a haunting piano progression, Choppa raps with a frantic urgency while recounting horror tales from the street. “Choppa, how many bodies you got? Bitch, I got a lot,” he spits on the opening verse. “I put the Perc up in my Henny so you know I'm gettin' spinny/I leave yo' body in the old town road, just like I'm Billy.” BlocBoy follows with a closing verse that’s equally chilling: “Before I work it out with a bitch I do a sit-up/.40 to his mouth, I gun him down, now he can't get up/I heard the opps talkin', I know how to close their lips up/This shit get personal, I put his momma in the pick-up.” Memphis, stand up.
Jelani Aryeh, “Jetfuel”
Rising San Diego artist Jelani Aryeh is 19 years old, but you wouldn't know it after a listen to his new song, “Jetfuel.” Over gentle strums of an electric guitar, Jelani sings about giving up on football, despite heavy encouragement from his father to play the sport. It’s a simple and relatable concept, but Jelani’s mature songwriting and effortless vocals make this one worthy of repeat listens. He first caught our attention with the catchy “Where We Go,” but “Jetfuel” reveals that Jelani’s perspective on life has a depth that most artists his age lack. And the song has a really nice, laid-back feel to it that arrives just in time for fall. Brew some tea and put this one on repeat. —Eric Skelton