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R&B/Hip-Hop Fresh Picks of the Week: Lucky Daye, Rapsody, Shenseea & Lola Brooke, Doeboy & More

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As we await both the fate of Kanye West’s long-teased comeback and Friday’s Grammy nominations announcement, the biggest names and fastest-rising stars across hip-hop and R&B have maintained a steady stream of new music for our listening pleasure. As per usual, last Friday (Nov. 3) flooded DSPs with a host of new tracks — including some fun takes on contemporary holiday music — to usher us into the final two months of the calendar year.

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With Fresh PicksBillboard 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: Rapsody, “Asteroids”

“My insecurity is the fear of being rejected / When you this raw they listen with an erection / Niggas pull the Drac’ before they rap about affection / There I go, hard to rap without a message,” Rapsody spits in the first verse of “Asteroids,” her new Hit-Boy-helmed single. With jazzy, percussive production, Hit-Boy provides Rapsody with ample room to lob some “asteroids” at the rest of the rap game. These aren’t direct, petty shots, but astute observations as to where the rap game is in relation to where it could and should be. Rapsody’s flow continues to be virtually peerless; she effortlessly switches between different pockets in the beat without ever making her transitions feel clunky or sloppy. From her slick punchlines to Hit-Boy’s wailing guitar, “Asteroids” is a winner.

UMI, “Why Don’t We Go”

Over a breezy, dream-pop-inflected instrumental, UMI delivers a summery song about escaping into a physical and emotional space of intimacy with her special partner. “Why don’t we go somewhere we only know / Climb into me, into my waterfalls / Up in the clouds, yeah, we’ve been there before,” she croons. She opts for a no-frills vocal delivery, which allows for a greater focus on the heartwarming simplicity of her songwriting and the track’s overarching concept — it doesn’t actually matter where UMI and her lover are going, as long as they’re going together.

Ye Ali feat. RyFy & Dcmbr, “Zodiac”

Joining a long line of horoscope-minded R&B joints, this new link-up between Ye Ali, RyFy and Dcmbr is a worthy addition to the lexicon. Steeped in neo-soul with a dash of alternative rock, “Zodiac” finds the three artists not-so-radically flipping the script on the star sign concept. Instead of whittling down the different signs and eventually landing on one that is inherently incompatible with them — they land on them all. “Virgos in LA, Capricorns make me stay / Leos can’t be tamed, but I like it that way / Taurus what I want, Scorpio’s what I need / Every damn day I need a zodiac freak,” Ye sings over the slinky arrangement, just barely reaching the deepest points of his breathy lower register in the process.

Doeboy, “Ain’t Bout Nun”

For the latest taste of his forthcoming Ignorant EP, Doeboy joins forces with Tay Keith for a blistering warning to all his ops with “Ain’t Bout Nun.” Over skittering snares, Doeboy balances a carefully ambivalent main vocal, with ad-libs that add flashes of character dynamism, for a rap performance that captures every emotional shade of the taunting process. The hook is direct, but it’s that just-shy-of-monotone delivery that makes it feel all the more menacing. “You want war, b–ch, I want duck, it ain’t ’bout none / My ice on, you ain’t gon’ touch, it ain’t ’bout none / If I want her, then I’m f–kin’, ain’t ’bout none / What you want? Ain’t got no budget, ain’t ’bout nothin,’” he spits.

41, Kyle Richh & Jenn Carter, “Stomp Stomp (feat. TaTa & Dee Billz)”

Having already scored some of the year’s defining regional hits in “Bent” and “Jenn Jenn Jenn,” 41 — the fiery Brooklyn drill collective comprised of TaTa, Kyle Richh and Jenn Carter — continue their real-time documentation of hip-hop’s evolution with “Stomp Stomp.” Drawing on elements of Soulja Boy’s eternal “Crank That,” 41 combines the brash, no-holds-barred delivery of DMX with the quick-based bullet point flow of contemporary New York drill stars like Fivio Foreign, for a track that sits at the center of sample drill’s danceability and genuinely impressive bars — an area in which Jenn Carter routinely shines brightest.

Lucky Daye, “That’s You”

The D’Mile Musical Universe just keeps getting more intertwined: “That’s You” — the new single from Grammy-winning R&B star Lucky Daye — finally marks the union of two D’Mile disciples, Daye and Bruno Mars. With the “Leave the Door Open” singer on co-production and co-writing credits, Lucky dives headfirst into ’70s-informed R&B songcraft — a notable departure from the more contemporary stylings of Candydrip, his most recent LP. “I been numb, so numb / Spendin’ every dime to gеt everything I want / Therе’s only one thing missing in life / That’s you,” he croons, positioning himself squarely in the “sing-pleading in the rain” era of male R&B.

Shenseea feat. Lola Brooke, “Beama”

Just as rap is a child of rock-n-roll, it’s also a child of reggae, as Shenseaa reminds us with her new Lola Brooke team-up, “Beama.” It’s a smart collaboration, considering that Brooke already has some West Indian-adjacent inflections in her voice thanks to her hometown of Brooklyn’s position as a major Caribbean immigration hub. With production contributions from London On Da Track, Dready and Philip Cornish, “Beama” finds Shenseea and Brooke getting serious. While both artists have dropped party tracks this year, “Beama” — with its hard-hitting drill-inflected beat — is all about putting the opps on notice. “VVS so cold, straight out of my freezer / Me nuh play, like the dealers, top shottas and squeezes / Me nuh talk to bum bitch bottom feeders / Hot head fever, top model diva,” the Jamaican dancehall artist spits.

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