Billboard’s First Stream serves as a handy guide to this Friday’s most essential releases — the key music that everyone will be talking about today, and that will be dominating playlists this weekend and beyond.
This week, Kodak Black carries his “Super Gremlin” momentum, Avril Lavigne returns to pop-punk, and Rosalía serves up something delectable. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
Kodak Black, Back For Everything
Kodak Black is relentlessly unpredictable, both personally and professionally — the Florida rapper slides in and out of the spotlight while trying to overcome his legal issues, and after a rocky 2021, he’s started off this year with a bang thanks to his current top 10 smash “Super Gremlin.” New album Back For Everything showcases Kodak’s ability to pluck pop-ready melodies out of ethereal beats, his signature croak sounding more nimble than before as he reflects on his fame, personal ordeals and future plans; with few guest stars, the project is intimate in a way that Kodak Black, a fascinating hip-hop superstar, demands.
Avril Lavigne, Love Sux
“I really made the record I wanted to make,” Avril Lavigne told Billboard about her seventh studio album, Love Sux. “And I found really fun people and cool musicians to make this with.” Thanks in part to collaborators like Travis Barker, John Feldmann, Machine Gun Kelly and Blackbear, Lavigne has come up with the rip-roaring pop-punk record that she’s had inside her since her “Sk8er Boi” days, with mean guitar riffs, post-heartbreak ferocity and arrangements that blends Warped Tour hallmarks with modern production details.
Rosalía, “Chicken Teriyaki”
While delicious, “chicken teriyaki” has never been a phrase to conjure much dancing — until now. The latest preview of Rosalía’s highly anticipated new album Motomami is two minutes of frenetic movement, with the rubbery beat coming into view before leaping into the background and Rosalía demonstrating the full power of her vibrant personality. Her 2018 classic El Mal Querer was always going to be difficult to follow up, but kudos to Rosalía for continuing to upend expectations.
Kygo feat. DNCE, “Dancing Feet”
With a highly successful Jonas Brothers comeback in the rearview, Joe Jonas has returned to the group, DNCE, that helped him score a top 10 smash in between runs with his brothers. “Dancing Feet,” a collaboration with best-selling Norwegian producer Kygo, has more disco shimmer than “Cake By The Ocean,” with chopped-up vocals during the post-chorus that recalls Kygo’s hit alongside Selena Gomez, “It Ain’t Me”; Jonas makes for a more-than-capable frontman here, and the song’s bounce should carry it into the summer nicely.
Lil Durk, “AHHH HA”
Lil Durk uses new single “AHHH HA” as a response track, with several overt shots and subliminal disses directed at YoungBoy Never Broke Again… but even removed from that context, the song captures why Durk remains such a kinetic figure in mainstream hip-hop. In between a jagged hook, Durk lets his flow roam free, oscillating between chest-thumping and threat-making while ad-libs punctuate his bars — during a particularly prolific run as a collaborator, “AHHH HA” shows his towering he can still be on his own.
Rauw Alejandro, Trap Cake Vol. 2
Rauw Alejandro quickly follows up Vice Versa, one of 2021’s most complete projects in Latin pop and in general, with a nine-song trap EP that follows up 2019’s Trap Cake and boasts some major star power. Hearing Future go off alongside Alejandro and Rvssian on “FCK U X2,” and Ty Dolla $ign and Alejandro unfurl dueling croons on “No Drama,” makes for a riveting listen, although the futuristic solo track “Gracias Por Nada” may be even more compelling than the collaborations.