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R&B/Hip-Hop Fresh Picks of the Week: Inayah, Baby Jungle & Rob49, Genia and More

To the surprise of nobody, this week brought us yet another absolutely insane update to the Great Rap War of 2024. By the end of the weekend, both diss tracks from Drake (“Push Ups”) and Rick Ross (“Champagne Moments”) officially hit DSPs, Future and Metro Boomin earned their second Billboard 200 No. 1 album of the year, Ye found a way to insert himself into the battle with his own “Like That” remix, and Drake put out a second response to Kendrick Lamar that featured verses rapped by AI versions of Snoop Dogg and Tupac. Got all that?

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Of course, the world kept turning outside of that ever-spiraling beef — after all, Taylor Swift‘s Tortured Poets Department broke records within its first 12 hours of release. Kid Cudi broke his foot at Coachella, Cash Cobain teased new music with Frank Ocean, and GloRilla was arrested for DUI in Georgia.

With Fresh PicksBillboard aims to highlight some of the best and most interesting new sounds across R&B and hip-hop — from Inayah’s bounce-indebted bop to Skilla Baby’s swaggering ode to Big Meech. Be sure to check out this week’s Fresh Picks in our Spotify playlist below.

Freshest Find: Inayah, “Pressure”

After flipping Fantasia‘s classic “When I See U” into her own biting R&B smash, Inayah offers up her new album, Wait, There’s More, which comes complete with indisputable bangers such as “Pressure.” Here, the Houston-bred singer makes her way over to New Orleans to re-contextualize the vibrant verve of bounce music into an impassioned plea for her partner to prove how badly he wants to have her. Reminiscent of Beyoncé’s “Church Girl” in the way that Inayah’s soulful, gospel-rooted reverberate across the raucous hip-hop production, “Pressure” feels distinct enough to break through the noise and catchy enough to become a legitimate radio hit.

Baby Jungle & Rob49, “Freaknik”

Baby Jungle was born long after the prime days of Freaknik, but the Georgia native pays homage to Atlanta’s Black cultural celebration and attempts to recreate the frivolous energy of it with his own track. Jungle’s “Freaknik” samples Ice Cube’s “We Be Clubbin’” and finds him laying out some of his raunchy house party fantasies. “F–k her on the balcony when we on vacation/ F–k her on the balcony you know I made her touch her knees,” he raps. Jungle then extends an invitation to the sexcapade to Rob49, who isn’t shy about divulging his bawdy experiences. “Please don’t f–k me lazy,” Rob repeatedly pleads to close out his spicy assist.

Nao Yoshioka, Takuya Kuroda & Khari Mateen, “Unapologetically Me”

Ahead of her debut LP and an upcoming worldwide tour, Japanese R&B artist Nao Yoshioka has unleashed “Unapologetically Me.” A breezy amalgamation of funk, soul and jazz, “Unapologetically Me” captures the necessity of remaining committed to yourself while the world around you seems to implode. Yoshioka cartwheels through the expanse of her voice, with her flashy stints in falsetto, fierce belts and sultry whispers pairing well with Khari Mateen’s slight rasp. Together, the two voices source their earthier textures in Kuroda’s buoyant trumpet, which helps pull together the earnestness that makes Anderson .Paak‘s Bruno Mars-less music so effective.

Skilla Baby, “Free Big Meech”

An ode to Detroit’s famed kingpin, Skilla Baby shouts out the Black Mafia Family leader along with his brother Southwest T. The boss-talk mentality flows through Skilla as he brags about the “bag” he’s in and what could happen to those who cross him. The fast-rising Detroit rapper sets the tone for what’s to come with The Coldest project later this month. Skilla delivers the most random trio of pop culture references heard so far this year in rap while name-dropping former New York Knick Obi Toppin, Monsters, Inc.’s Mike Wazowski and Problem Child character Junior Healy. Even while Baby’s bank account adds more digits, he’s still not shaking some of his childhood favorites: “Rich as f–k, still eatin’ Top Ramen,” he boasts.

Genia, “Bottling It Up”

“I’m tired of not feelin’ enough/ I see the end before it’ll come/ You got me to a place where I’m numb / That’s what I get for bitin’ my tongue,” Genia croons in the chorus of her soul-baring “Bottling It Up.” The only thing harder than keeping your true thoughts and feelings inside is admitting that you were purposely suppressing those emotions. This track, taken from the Def Jam singer’s new 4 AM In The Ville EP, uses its groovy melody and morose guitars to soundtrack her fight through the exhausting push-and-pull of a tumultuous relationship.

03 Greedo & Maxo Kream, “R.I.C.O.”

At this point, a Maxo-Greedo joint project is needed. L.A. and Houston reconnect here over ominous production, which could score an upcoming Jordan Peele horror flick. Maxo Kream was tied up in a 2016 R.I.C.O. case and Greedo served a multi-year sentence on gun and drug charges, but they’re still standing on business and not backing down from the legal system. The pair calls for Young Thug’s freedom as he fights for his life on trial in the YSL R.I.C.O. case. Maxo and Greedo pass the baton back and forth until the West Coast cult hero steals the show with his final offering turning the temperature up. “My label better not play with me/ On Grape Street all my peoples kill,” he raps.

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