New music Fridays are a thrilling, yet daunting prospect for any music lover.
It's essentially a weekly holiday where fan-favorite artists and fresh faces alike drop their latest offerings for all the world to hear, flooding streaming services and digital retailers with an onslaught of aural goodies. But who has the time to sit there and listen to everything before updating their playlists? There's just too much good stuff! (And, if we're being honest, usually a few stinkers, too.)
As it turns out, we do. Welcome to The MixtapE!
Nothing, that's what. As the "WAP" collaborators proved yet again this week, we're just damn lucky to be alive at the same time as they are. They both returned to the scene this week with tracks that we're already certain we'll have on repeat well throughout the year. Or at least until they deign to deliver their next aural delights.
Of course, they weren't the only ones to release new material. Here are our picks for the best of the best.
Your playlist for the weekend of Feb. 5-7 has arrived. Enjoy!
Cardi B — "Up"
Cardi's done it again. For her first release of 2021, the rapper has followed the cultural event that was "WAP" with another eminently quotable and fiercely flawless banger. Putting the haters squarely in their place with lines like "If I had a d--k, you'd probably lick it like a lollipop," it's filthy and funny and everything we've come to expect from the Bronx-bred badass. And the accompanying video? Talk about eye-popping. It's another slam dunk all around.
Bobby Sessions feat. Megan Thee Stallion — "I'm a King"
Meg teams with another rising rapper out of Texas for this bouncy single off the Coming 2 America soundtrack. While it's ostensibly Bobby's track—and he certainly holds his own—the "Savage" star makes clear just who's the main attraction here. After starting her verse declaring, "I'm a queen," she gets right to the point: "Looking at the boy, I'm the most important piece/‘Cause you can't win the game if you ain't got me." Where is the lie?
Victoria Monét — "F.U.C.K."
The celebrated singer-songwriter (and mom-to-be!) delivers another sultry slice of soul with her first release of the year. With the title an acronym for "Friend U Can Keep," Victoria's got non-monogamous intimacy on the brain. And with the offer delivered via those velvety vocals, we can't imagine anyone turning her down.
H.E.R. — "Fight For You"
Ahead of her performance of "America the Beautiful" during the Super Bowl LV pre-game ceremonies on Feb. 7, the R&B singer has dropped this stirring song that'll be heard in the forthcoming film Judas and the Black Messiah. Drawing inspiration from the revolutionary sounds of the '60s and '70s, the track's focus on social and racial justice is both timely and tragically timeless. It's not hard to see why it earned her the first Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song earlier this week.
Jazmine Sullivan — "Lost One (Live)"
You want vocals? Jazmine's got vocals. Let this live version of a standout track off recent album Heaux Tales be the thing you need to both get you ready for her to steal the show at Super Bowl LV—she'll be performing the national anthem alongside Eric Church—and get you to stop sleeping on that excellent LP.
VIC MENSA feat. Wyclef Jean & Chance the Rapper — "SHELTER"
The word "powerful" gets thrown around so much when describing socially conscious music that it's almost been rendered meaningless. But it feels like the only word to accurately depict this politically charged track that takes a look at the many ways America's Black communities have been practically abandoned lately and always. Though "heartbreaking" works too.
Kito with VanJess & Channel Tres — "Recap"
Australian producer/DJ Kito taps Nigerian-American sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike and the always welcome Channel Tres for this infectious piece of pop. While everyone shines, it's Channel's buttery baritone that seals the deal for us, as always. This one's just a damn good time.
Lucky Daye & Tiana Major9 — "On Read"
It's a transatlantic affair on this new R&B song—Lucky hails from New Orleans, while Tiana is an East Londoner—but there's more than just an ocean between them here. As they trade verses on the track, a picture is painted of an all-too-common communication breakdown in our texting age. Lucky's looking for a response from his lady, but Tiana's in no mood to give him one. It's a soulful single with a tension that quickly simmers into a beautiful boil.
Leigh Nash & Ruby Amanfu — "Good Trouble"
Leigh, known best as the lead singer of Sixpence None the Richer, teams with Grammy-nominated and Ghana-born singer-songwriter Ruby for an anthemic ballad that takes an unflinching look at the racial disparities in the world and the work that's going to be required of all of us to overcome them. This one's undeniably stirring.
Tai Verdes — "BAD BAD News"
TikTok has turned Tai into a viral music sensation almost overnight. The good news here is that bluesy tracks like this one only prove that the social media network propped up a winner.