R&B/Hip-Hop Fresh Picks of the Week: Bryson Tiller, Lola Brooke & 41, Tierra Whack & More

Against all odds — and a brief disappearance from digital streaming platforms — Vultures I is finally here. The new joint LP from Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign launched atop the Billboard 200 on Sunday (Feb. 18), while its breakout single, “Carnival,” starts at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (chart dated Feb. 24).

Although that new set, which features appearances from North West and Playboi Carti, dominated much of the conversation in the hip-hop and R&B worlds, it was far from the only thing of note to occur over the past week. On Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) — or “Worst Day” if you’re a part of the Future Hive — Maze frontman Frankie Beverly announced his farewell tour. Beverly, of course, lent his voice to the seminal “Before I Let Go,” covered by Beyoncé for her 2019 Homecoming live album. Her version peaked at No. 65 on the Hot 100.

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In other R&B performance news, Usher added yet another new slate of dates to his ever-growing Past Present Future tour (Feb. 20) and the Roots Picnic announced their 2024 headliners, which include Jill Scott, Nas, Lil Wayne & The Roots and André 3000. On the hip-hop side of things, there’s no getting around the eye-popping new music video for Drake, SZA and Sexyy Red‘s “Rich Baby Daddy.” The clip — which has already amassed over 7.5 million YouTube views — finds Drizzy and Solána partying in a hospital while the “Pound Town” rap princess (who recently gave birth to her second child in real life) goes into labor.

With Fresh PicksBillboard aims to highlight some of the best and most interesting new sounds across R&B and hip-hop — from Bryson Tiller‘s new heater to Rae Khalil’s tender meditation on existentialism. Be sure to check out this week’s Fresh Picks in our Spotify playlist below.

Freshest Find: Pratt & Moody & Cold Diamond & Mink, “Creeping Around

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Finnish soul duo Pratt & Moody are dishing up heavy old school vibes on their new Cold Diamond & Mink-produced single “Creeping Around.” Their take on contemporary soul is infused with an especially haunting approach to melody. The grandiosity of the song’s production — built almost exclusively around Moody’s sultry guitar — evokes the most stirring of James Bond themes, while the duo’s expansive combine vocal ranges trade off fluttery falsettos with robust full-voice crooning. “We gotta stop creeping around” is a simple, but incredibly effective hook; the song’s lyrical sparseness allows the meticulous arrangement ample room to breathe, making it a flawless backdrop for the slight twang that contours each repetition of “creeping around.”

Bryson Tiller, “Whatever She Wants”

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After initially appearing on his Slum Tiller, Volume 2 mixtape last November, Bryson Tiller has finally unleashed fan-favorite track “Whatever She Wants” on all digital streaming platforms. Crafted with the intent to appear on a stripper’s pre-show playlist, “Whatever She Wants” finds Bryson far-removed from his heart-bearing hip-hop-inflected R&B. Instead, the Grammy nominee skates across TylianMTB-produced Detroit-inspired beat with all of the effortless swagger and braggadocio of a guy who could quite literally buy the whole club. “CC, Gucci, hit Bottega, whatever she want/ She piss me off, somehow she still get whatever she want,” he spits, somehow striking a fine balance of gruffness and seduction in his delivery.

Tierra Whack, “27 Club”

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Mental health has long been a lyrical touchstone in hip-hop, just as the “27 Club” — an infamous collection of celebrities who passed at age 27 — has been a figment of pop culture’s obsession for decades. Thus, the convergence of these two concepts is fairly natural, and Tierra Whack expertly tackles them both on her new track, “27 Club.” Produced by J Melodic and ProdbyBRIANNA, “27 Club” finds Tierra contemplating suicide. “When your life gets hard but it’s simple/ When everybody ’round you suspenseful/ It ain’t really hard to convince you/ Lookin’ for somethin’ to commit to?” she spits. The dark beauty of this song is that Tierra wholly rejects the notion of a happy ending or a narrative of triumph; she simply sits in the aching self-loathing, guilt and depression that comes with suicidal ideation.

Lola Brooke & 41, “Becky”

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Last year, both Lola Brooke and 41 dropped off full-length projects — Dennis Daughter and 41 World: Not the Album, respectively — and now the two fast-rising New York rap breakout stars are kicking off 2024 with a new collaboration. Predicated on a definition of “Becky” that refers to fellatio, the fiery drill joint marks the union of some of the most exciting voices in the contemporary hip-hop scene. Lola’s characteristically menacing delivery is a smart complement to TaTa’s boisterous ad-libs and Kyle Ricch’s high-octane flow. Of course, the “Don’t Play With It” rapper also pairs well with 41’s Jenn Carter, whose slick wordplay makes her closing verse the strongest.

Chantae Cann & Kenyon Dixon, “B-Side”

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Kenyon Dixon has been on something of a hot streak lately between his 2024 Grammy nomination and a recent string of gorgeous duets. On “B-Side,” his new joint alongside Billboard-charting jazz and soul signer Chantae Cann, he keeps that streak alive. Produced and co-written by Masego, there’s a throughline of sultry, “come-hither” energy that encapsulates the innate, tasteful allure of the slinkiest jazz-inflected R&B melodies. Cann delivers the hook in a breathy tone that pairs well with Dixon’s whimsical descending riffs. Who said grown and sexy R&B was dead?!

Rae Khalil, “Is It Worth It”

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In celebration of the announcement of her signing with Billboard chart-topping rapper-singer Anderson .Paak‘s APESHIT label, Rae Khalil has unleashed a new .Paak-produced single titled “Is It Worth It.” Built around an understated drum-laden and bass-anchored soundscape, Khalil asks “Is it worth it?/ If I show up when I want/ In the sea of the same face/ Is it worth my time, time?” The lyrical battle between her own pride and her desire for connection and yearning to be wanted and desired come to a head in the lush instrumental break that simultaneously serves as the song’s bridge and outro — talk about a stunner.

ScHoolboy Q, “Yeern 101”

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Q’s new LP, Blue Lips, arrives in just under two weeks, and the Grammy-winning rapper is amping up his rollout. Built around a skittering, bass-blaring beat crafted by Cardo, J.LBS, Johnny Juliano & Yung Exclusive, “Yeern 101” finds the TDE star effortlessly skating over the track with a borderline breathless flows. There are no easy hooks or choruses here, these are two heady voices chock-full of smart wordplay, high-speed flow switches and sly changes in inflection and intonation — both of which are elevated by the ever-intensifying instrumental. “I’m a n—a out here, everything come free/ I ain’t never met God, but I bet he know me/ Put the money in a set, a n—a die in them streets/ Threw the boy alley oop, now he ridin’ on fleek,” he spits.