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, the hip-hop world pays homage to DMX, Bad Bunny has some new fire for the holiday weekend, and Juice WRLD’s debut gets a three-year anniversary refresh. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:
So much of DMX’s music was about pain: the agony of a tumultuous upbringing, the rough exterior that led to (and had to grapple with) newfound fame, the righteous anger of a Black man whose community was being underserved. Earl Simmons channeled that pain into riveting, blockbuster-selling music during his 50 years of life, and Exodus, his first posthumous project after the rapper passed away in April, celebrates that life while still nodding to the microphone fury that helped define it. Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Bono and Lil Wayne are among the guests paying their respects, while X’s Ruff Ryders cohort Swizz Beatz serves as executive producer; still, no collaborator can overshadow the raw energy of DMX, and the best moments on Exodus simply allow his bark to ring out without interruption.
Bad Bunny feat. Luar La L, “100 Millones”
Need a last-minute addition to your Memorial Day Weekend playlist? Bad Bunny is here to help, with the assistance of Puerto Rican rapper Luar La L and a trap beat that provokes immediate motion. A surprise release from Bad Bunny, who promises another new song next week, “100 Millones” is also unexpectedly structured, with the beat dropping out and sputtering back in as Luar La L’s gruff delivery is showcased; the song takes a few listens to seep in, but as always, Bad Bunny guides the affair with his wealth of charisma.
Juice WRLD, Goodbye & Good Riddance (Anniversary Edition)
In May 2018, Goodbye & Good Riddance was released as the debut studio album of Juice WRLD, a 19-year-old Chicago kid who investigated the intersection of hip-hop, emo and pop. Three years later, Juice is gone, but the impact of that soul-baring exploration remains: the new “Anniversary Edition” of the LP includes two new songs on the track list — the wrenching “734,” and a remix of his smash “Lucid Dreams,” featuring Lil Uzi Vert — but the lasting imprint has already been made by the genre-busting hits around them.
J Balvin feat. Maria Becerra, “¿Qué Más Pues?”
“¿Qué Más Pues?” Is the product of a string of Instagram exchanges, with J Balvin trading messages with Argentinian singer Maria Becerra before deciding to lay down a song about a former couple contemplating a reunion. The reggaeton track crackles with nifty production flourishes — a motorcycle vroom here, a whistle there — and Becerra admirably keeps up with the superstar Balvin, selling her solo vocals and locking into a lovely vocal harmony with her new collaborator.
Tate McRae, “Darkest Hour”
For the Amazon original series Panic, Tate McRae has unveiled a song that suggests a multi-faceted vocal flair previously unheard on singles like “You Broke Me First” and “You.” “Darkest Hour” yearns dramatically, a somber ballad with a high replay value — and McRae, refusing to be drowned out by the crashing drums on the chorus, quietly goes up another level on the track.
“These are songs that marked my childhood, my teen years and my early adulthood,” Juanes recently told Billboard about Origen, a new album full of the veteran Colombian star’s renditions of some longtime staples. “This was curated to show my life.” And while some may interpret Juanes covering everything from Joaquín Sabina’s “Y Nos Dieron las 10” to Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” as novelty, the covers here are both playful and heartfelt, with the rock singer-songwriter contorting the arrangements toward his skill set and simultaneously paying homage to their fundamental power.