R&B/Hip-Hop Fresh Picks of the Week: Kendrick Lamar, Tyla, Big Sean & More

by 24USATVMarch 25, 2024, 8:01 p.m. 20
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“Okay, let’s get it” — only one thing mattered this weekend. Well, one verse, rather. On Friday (March 22), Kendrick Lamar came back outside for a culture-rocking verse that threw direct shots at Drake, J. Cole and the very concept of “The Big 3.” That verse appeared on “Like That,” the immediate breakout hit from Future & Metro Boomin‘s new joint album We Don’t Trust You — an LP that easily dominated the weekend’s online conversations. As Drake continues to prep his response to Kung Fu Kenny, several other releases and events are keeping the R&B and hip-hop worlds occupied.

On the R&B front, amapiano crossover sensation Tyla unleashed her debut studio album, TDE R&B crooner SiR returned with his first LP in five years and Bryson Tiller officially launched his eponymous album with his new “Calypso” single. Hip-hop was obviously dominated by the Kendrick, Drake and Future of it all, but GloRilla carved out a bit of airtime for herself thanks to a hilarious clip of her appearing on CNN to comment on her visit to the White House. In the evergreen words of the Grammy-nominated “Tomorrow 2” rapper, “At the end of the day, the day gotta end!”

With Fresh Picks, Billboard aims to highlight some of the best and most interesting new sounds across R&B and hip-hop — from K. Dot’s incendiary verse to Tyla’s sexy summer smash. Be sure to check out this week’s Fresh Picks in our Spotify playlist below.

Kendrick Lamar lit the fuse for rap’s biggest storyline of the year with his scathing assist on Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That.” Kenny builds off of Future’s earlier shots at the 6 God by taking aim at both of his “Big Three” running mates J. Cole and Drake with a direct response to their Billboard Hot 100-topping “First Person Shooter.” “Yeah, get up with me, f–k sneak dissing/ ‘First Person Shooter,’ I hope they came with three switches,” he raps before throwing more fuel on the fire. “Think I won’t drop the location? I still got PTSD/ Motherf–k the Big 3, n—a, it’s just big me.”

K.Dot takes the gloves off and hones in on Drake while referencing his For All The Dogs album and compares their relationship to Prince and Michael Jackson. “And your best work is a light pack/ N–a, Prince outlived Mike Jack’/ N—a, bum/ ‘For All your Dogs’ gettin’ buried/ That’s a K with all these nines, he gon’ see Pet Sematary,” he snarls. Kendrick and Drake have had an icy relationship since Dot’s atomic “Control” verse back in 2013, and this should ratchet up the cold war a few notches. Don’t look for “Like That” to exit the zeitgeist all that quickly either, as the Three 6 Mafia-sampling hit is expected to earn a lofty debut on the Hot 100 next week. The ball is now in Drake and Cole’s court, with the hip-hop world anxiously awaiting a response.

From “Girl Next Door” and the Grammy-winning “Water” to “Truth or Dare” and “Butterflies,” the road to Tyla’s highly anticipated debut studio effort has been a sight to behold. “Jump,” a genre-bending standout from the self-titled LP, continues her track record of steamy come-hither bops that keep her in complete control at all times. Alongside Gunna and Skillibeng, Tyla writes across a sultry soundscape that combines notes of Afropop, dancehall and R&B. “They never had a pretty girl from Joburg/ See me now, and that’s what they prefer/ I don’t touch no wheel ’cause I gotta chauffeur/ First class how I get ’round the world,” she croons in a cadence that emulates the laid-back rap-sung cadence of Rihanna. Perfectly primed to dominate the summer, “Jump” is certainly one to watch.

History repeats itself with a Big Sean release day being overshadowed by a Kendrick Lamar verse a decade later — who can forget “Control”? Sean ended his hiatus last week with his first offering of 2024, “Precision,” which finds the reinvigorated Detroit spitter coming out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Sean Don’s scintillating flow hasn’t lost its luster and he can still go toe-to-toe with any of his competition in rap. With his finger on the trigger, Sean attacks the bouncy FNZ production with ambition. “My life was a highlight reel that keep on looping/ You can’t just tell me s–t, ho, you gotta prove it,” he boasts. It’s a welcomed comeback single for Big Sean, and hopefully, he won’t be taking his foot off the gas cruising down I-375 anytime soon.

Heavy, SiR’s first studio album in five years, is some truly dark work. The Inglewood-bred crooner parses through addiction recovery, recommitting himself to love in all of its forms, and the vices that he nearly fell victim to. On “Brighter,” the gospel-inflected album closer, SiR delivers a song that embodies all of the hope and tried-and-tested faith that allowed him to survive and make an album like Heavy. “It’s the hardest where the start is/ But I know we’re gonna make it through,” he passionately croons. “Yes, it’s the darkest where the spark is/ But there’s nothin’ more amazin’ than when lights starts breakin’ through.”

With their new Jupiter EP slated for a May 3 release, Forest Claudette is kicking things off with “Gold.” A shimmering amalgam of macabre lyrics, morose piano and strings, tied together with an evocative vocal performance, “Gold” continues building Forest’s stunning catalog of introspective alternative R&B. “I ain’t no damsel, I get distressed/ Burned out my candles, can’t find the rest/ Where’s the bottom? Where’s the edge? / Not there, not yеt,” he ponders. He effortlessly transposes the traditional soul hallmark into something decidedly more contemporary in its penchant for the existential.

Bairi (Inspired by Kingdom Hearts character Kairi) might not be a name as well known as others on this list, but she undoubtedly holds her own here. The Hershey, PA native tantalizes listeners with her luscious vocals on the sultry “Come My Way.” She reels in a love interest with a velvety coo: “If you open up to me you won’t regret it/ I can show you paradise through my gate to heaven.” Her seductive songwriting includes an intoxicating melody made to fill the club’s dancefloor. Bairi isn’t going away either, as the introverted gamer will look to carry this momentum into her debut project Baby Siren, which arrives on April 22.

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