Between a rare in-depth Jay-Z interview, a new Brent Faiyaz LP, and an announcement confirming new music from Megan Thee Stallion, the major players across R&B and hip-hop kept the scene busy the past week — but some left-of-center artists also had their own worthy contributions to the conversation. New Music Friday (Oct. 27) treated DSPs to a new tidal wave of bangers across hip-hop R&B to populate playlists ahead of Q4’s major holiday parties and celebrations.
With Fresh Picks, Billboard aims to highlight some of the best and most interesting new sounds across R&B and hip-hop — from Destin Conrad and Masego’s blistering duet to Azealia Banks’ long-teased drill anthem. Be sure to check out this week’s Fresh Picks in our Spotify playlist below.
Freshest Find: serpentwithfeet, Ty Dolla $ign & Yanga Yaya, “Damn Gloves”
For the lead single for his forthcoming Grip LP, experimental R&B auteur serpentwithfeet dips his toe into house music influences with “Dam Gloves.” Assisted by frequent collaborator Ty Dolla $ign and South African artist Yanga YaYa, serpentwithfeet utilizes production reminiscent of Travis Scott and Beyoncé’s “Delresto (Echoes)” for a dark, sensual paean to slow-grinding and wining. “I don’t need no weed, I don’t need no liquor/ I just wanna keep grind-grindin’ on my n—a / Whatever’s on his leg, good God, it’s gettin’ thicker,” he teases.
Shordie Shordie feat. Baby B, “First Kiss”
Taken from the back half of his melodic Murda Beatz-helmed Memory Lane 2 project, “First Kiss” finds Baltimore rapper Shordie Shordie linking up with rising R&B singer Baby B for a tender guitar-inflected ode to the dream of your first kiss also being your last. It’s a surprisingly warm and heartfelt duet that incorporated elements of A Boogie Wit da Hoodie and Juice WRLD’s sing-songy flow with Shordie’s intimate grasp of emotive hooks. “Do you remember your first kiss?/ Not the fake one, but the one with some purpose,” he questions.
Destin Conrad & Masego, “Super Paradise”
Last week (Oct. 27), R&B crooner Destin Conrad dropped off Submissive, his third full-length project. The sensual set finds its closer in the Masego-assisted “Super Paradise,” a breezy, string-laden number that makes subtle nods to dembow as the pair trade verses about submitting to their lover out of desire, not desperation. It’s a very carnal affair.
Skylar Blatt feat. Lola Brooke, “F–k Fame, Pt. 2”
In the lead-up to her forthcoming Dennis Daughter project, Brooklyn rapper Lola Brooke has put out her fair share of pop-leaning radio-ready singles to keep her name on the mind of both consumers and radio programmers post-“Don’t Play With It.” On this new collaboration with Cincinnati rapper Skylar Blatt, Lola doubles down on the menacing snarl that garnered her name recognition. The two female rappers trade punchline-packed bars about the frivolity of fame — a smart choice of topic given hip-hop’s currently tenuous relationship with the apex of the mainstream music scene. Lola effortlessly embodies the gruffness of Skylar’s chorus, resulting in the (unfortunately) rare collaboration in which both artists are genuinely informing the other’s approach to the song.
Masego feat. Wale & ENNY, “You Never Visit Me (Remix)”
The original solo version of “You Never Visit Me” has been out for nearly a year, but that didn’t stop Masego from calling in some reinforcements for the song’s new remix. Featuring Wale and English rapper ENNY, the song’s remix opens up the breadth of perspectives regarding abandoned relationships. Wale joins Masego in wallowing over a lover walking out on him, but ENNY flips the song’s hazy, jazz-informed arrangement to soundtrack the snarky apathy she feels towards her former partner. “But, now I got you on a need to know bases/ If I keep it real/ I seen the truth and now I can’t face it,” she coos.
42 Dugg, “Go Again”
For his first single post-prison release, Atlanta rapper 42 Dugg opts for a biting stream-of-consciousness flow that combines his natural knack for catchy hooks with a single gargantuan verse that finds him doubling down on his braggadocio in all areas of his life. “Catch you slippin’, I’m slidin’, tell me I’m good at rappin’/ Y’all good at hidin’, n—a, come out and get active/ My chopper shoot backwards (B–ch), my b–ches gets pampered / You probably didn’t have her, doggie, she callin’ me daddy,” he spits.
Azealia Banks, “Dilemma”
In typical Azealia fashion, the controversial New York rapper has finally unveiled an official version of “Dilemma” after first teasing the song over four years ago. On the new track, the “212” rapper retreats from her trademark house and ballroom influences, and, instead, opts to dip her toe into another segment of New York’s music scene: drill. While a large number of drill rappers tend to favor animatedly gruff growls, Banks plays with the dynamics of her timbre to retain a sense of individuality. This is most clear in the song’s final chorus — which arrives after one breathless and impressive rap verse — where she whispers the lyrics with a priceless sense of brooding humor.