Even in the midst of the announcement of Beyoncé’s imminent Renaissance World Tour documentary concert film, there was still an onslaught of new music unleashed upon the world over the weekend. From marquee mainstream rappers to British crossovers, there’s a whole lot of material to sort through.
With Fresh Picks, Billboard aims to highlight some of the best and most exciting new sounds across R&B and hip-hop — including Cleo Sol’s gospel-informed affirmations and Paul Wall’s sleek synthesis of Southern and East Coast hip-hop.
Make sure to check out this week’s Fresh Picks in our Spotify playlist below.
Freshest Find: Cleo Sol, “There Will Be No Crying”
On this gospel-steeped opener to Gold — her second new album in as many weeks — British singer-songwriter Cleo Sol blends gospel, soul, jazz and ambient music for a transformative rumination on the vitality of emotional resilience. Obviously a nod to Revelations 21:1-4, the song’s lyrics are a practice in affirmation, a paean for freedom and release in a world desperately in need of it. “There will be no fighting/ In a river full of dreams/ Make it better, one thing that I need, is to be free/ Life’s a battle that don’t scare me,” she coos in one of the song’s verses. The Inflo-produced track — which completely eschews typical song structures — delicately balances plaintive piano, bass, guitar, and drums for a serene yet intentional reclamation of inner strength.
Paul Wall & Termanology feat. Bun B & Deandre Nico, “No Apologies”
Southern hip-hop icon Paul Wall is currently readying his forthcoming collaborative album with Billboard-charting rapper and producer Termanology — due Oct. 13 — and this latest taste from the record promises a set that celebrates Southern hip-hop traditions while pushing the scene in a few new directions. “No Apologies,” which features Grammy-nominee Bun B and Texan musician Deandre Nico, finds Paul and Termanology blending elements of drum-heavy East Coast-nodding production with the slower, more languid vibe of Hoston rap production. The result is a lush ode to the power of ambition, set against of backdrop of Static Selektah’s soulful keys and DeAndre Nico’s commanding chorus.
No Guidnce, “Spicy”
Something of an all-male counterpart to FLO — the British girl group who broke through in 2022 and currently prepping their debut studio album — No Guidnce is seeking to solidify themselves in a similar manner with their new Spicy EP. Three of the tracks on the EP have already been out for months, but their new single — the groovy, bed squeak-touting “Spicy” — is their strongest attempt at a proper radio single. On the new song, the quartet not only showcases their impressive blend, but they also sell a level of camraderie that’s necessary to sell the idea of a boy band. Moreover, the song’s production keeps them in line with most of the contemporary pop&B landscape without threatening to be a sound that casts an insurmountable shadow of their future releases.
Kenyon Dixon feat. RL, “2000s R&B”
Grammy nominee Kenyon Dixon released his new The R&B You Love album last Friday (Sept. 29), and the record is a nuanced, heartfelt tribute to an era of R&B that prioritized soul music above all else. Tucked away in the back half of the album is a duet with RL of Next titled “2000s R&B,” a prime encapsulation of all the histrionic no-holds-barred journey through the throes of a romance rollercoaster. “Since you left, ain’t been the same/ Got me singin’ 2000s R&B, all in this f–kin’ rain like/ I wish I never met her, no/ D–n, I wish I never met her,” he croons in the chorus.
Sha EK, “Last One Left”
This standalone EMRLD & Wizical Beats-produced track finds Bronx rapper Sha EK turning down the bombast and opting for a more introspective vibe. Over an instrumental that’s closer to G-Unit’s luxurious street anthems than his usual dynamic take on New York drill, the “New Opps” rapper reflects on his rise to prominence and pledges to put longevity before cheap thrills. “I be going through s—t, but I’m never gonna fold/ N—a, my momma happy cause she see me growin’ ol,” he spits.
Sexyy Red, “No Panties”
After making the round-up last week, Sexyy Red returns with a fiery new track for the forthcoming second season of Issa Rae’s acclaimed Max series Rap Sh!t. “I ain’t got no panties on, gotta let this coochie breathe/ Bend that shit over, touch them toes, grab your knees,” the “SkeeYee” rapper spits over YA & Snacks-produced banger that leans more Southern rap than her Midwestern comfort zone. From a booming bassline to steady handclaps, Sexyy delivers a bevy of memorable NSFW one-liners throughout this ode to going commando.
Philly Goats, PGS Spence & Armani White, “Buckle Up (Remix)”
Before its official release to streaming services, Philly Goats’ “Buckle Up” garnered over one million posts on TikTok. Now, the runaway Jersey club snippet hit has grown into a full-fledged smash, complete with a new remix featuring “Billie Eilish” rapper Armani White. Sometimes, songs that gain their popularity through TikTok snippets can become beholden to those thirty seconds — but luckily, this new remix allows “Buckle Up” to feel like a solid standalone song, instead of a track that you’d only encounter while watching TikToks explicitly participating in the accompanying dance trend. “Man, now cuz all on his lawn and I can’t say I’m not in the car / It’s fully, damn / Now I’m in a jawn with a jar and my jawn don’t know I be drawin’ / You feel me? Damn,” Armani raps over the danceable beat.
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