First Stream: Lil Uzi Vert, Megan Thee Stallion

First Stream: Lil Uzi Vert, Megan Thee Stallion

45
💥46

Streets Talkin’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, Megan Thee Stallion stays true to herself, Lil Uzi Vert drops out of (seemingly) nowhere and Demi Lovato shows herself some love. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:

The Album That May Very Well Turn a Star Into a Household Name:
Megan Thee Stallion, Suga

When Megan Thee Stallion started receiving mainstream recognition, it was not as a promising talent still figuring out her approach, but as an arresting persona who already had her formula — a slick flow that could go double-time, R-rated similes, overflowing confidence rooted in Houston — down pat. Suga, a new nine-song project, turns up the wattage on that presentation, with Timbaland and The Neptunes now contributing production and guest spots from Kehlani and Gunna, but Megan is too smart to stray from what made her famous. Bruising openers “Ain’t Equal” and “Savage” find the MC at her sharpest, and “Captain Hook” at her raunchiest; for those hoping to hear a little growth, the Auto-Tune-heavy “Crying In The Car” provides the back half of the project a vulnerable highlight.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Album That The Whole Hip-Hop World Was Waiting On:
Lil Uzi Vert, Eternal Atake

With 2017’s Luv Is Rage 2, Lil Uzi Vert became a singular, multi-format superstar. With its follow-up, Eternal Atake, he made us wait, taking years to release the project and reintroduce the world to his beloved helium voice/jaunty wordplay combination. Eternal Atake has finally arrived in full, and we’re still digging into its 18 tracks of knotted-up ideas refracted through Uzi’s irrepressible personality. Rest assured, though, that an artist capable of both punching rap fans in the mouth with a song like the unyielding “Silly Watch,” as well as channeling his inner Backstreet Boy on the bonus track “That Way,” is absolutely worth your patience and attention. Happy Friday, and happy Eternal Atake Day.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Song To Pick You Up When You’re Feeling Down About Yourself:
Demi Lovato, “I Love Me”

Most of us are insecure about aspects of who we are, right? Demi Lovato understands that doubting your body, mind and spirit is too often part of the human experience — especially when you’re a young female pop star, and the Internet is brimming with opinions about you — so she made “I Love Me,” a empowering and effective anthem that reminds her listeners, and herself, that they’re not alone in these feelings. After returning to music with the heartbroken ballad “Anyone,” Lovato’s “I Love Me” is closer to the snappy rhythmic pop of her Tell Me You Love Me hits, with heavy drums added to the chorus before quickly dropping out for Lovato to smile through the line, “I wonder when ‘I love me’ is enough.” The pacing, message and overall packaging of the song is natural for Lovato, whose mix of talent and empathy make her an indispensable modern artist.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Song That Will Soundtrack Some Upcoming Wedding DVDs:
Katy Perry, “Never Worn White”

The number of Katy Perry career pop smashes has reached double digits, but none of them are what would be considered traditional ballads (“Unconditionally,” a mid-tempo top 20 hit, probably comes closest). Perry has geared up for her follow-up to 2017’s Witness with a string of singles and now unexpectedly slows things down with “Never Worn White,” a lovely ode to committing to commitment, even if personal history is somewhat antithetical. “It’s so easy to surrender / When you finally find forever,” Perry sings on the bridge, pushing her voice to capture the grandeur of the sentiment. While Perry fans are undoubtedly celebrating her recently revealed baby bump, “Never Worn White” makes for an unlikely stylistic choice that’s ultimately worth toasting.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Album That Keeps a Reggaeton Star On Top:
Bad Bunny, YHLQMDLG

The title of Bad Bunny’s new album is an acronym for “Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana,” or “I Do What I Want”; while other artists, in a variety of genres and time periods, have failed by not being able to rein in their artistic impulses, Bad Bunny has had the taste and vision to become a much bigger star as he’s gained more control of his narrative. YHLQMDLG is a testament to his singular expansiveness: he bends reggaeton to his will, gets sensitive, explores rock, casually tosses out trap bangers, melds with a variety of guest stars, samples Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” (on the wild, five-minute “Safaera”) and never loses sight of the party he wants to throw. Bad Bunny has been introduced to English-speaking listeners primarily through collaborations and some crossover hits, but YHLQMDLG stands as a full-length achievement that even casual fans need to absorb.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Song To Sing When You’re Still Not Ready To Make Nice:
Dixie Chicks, “Gaslighter”

There are people in this world who were born after the Dixie Chicks’ last album release and are now teenagers; it’s been a long time since 2006’s Taking The Long Way, and although the trio has reunited for tours and collaborations, they’re finally ready to return to making original tunes and introduce their astute country-pop to a new generation. What a pleasure it is, then, that “Gaslighter” succeeds at every level, with unflappable lyrics about emotional manipulation, an immediate chorus that demonstrates their harmonic brilliance, and the type of songwriting and production detail that has always separated the Chicks from their competition. “Gaslighter” is better than a return to form — it’s a comeback single that takes the formidable Dixie Chicks legacy and contributes an exciting new chapter.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Album To Play While Lying In Bed With Headphones:
Lauv, How I’m Feeling

Lauv may use swear words in his song titles and sing about the wasteland of online connections, but listen closely and you’ll hear a classic pop songwriter, one who understands the value of specificity in his writing as well as a uniting chorus. While How I’m Feeling may feel like the pristine project for streaming services in 2020 — it’s long, open-hearted and several of the songs are ripe for any of the major pop playlists — such algorithmic opportunities betray the care and craft showcased throughout the album as we get to understand Lauv’s hopes and frustrations. Take “Sims,” in which he longs for meeting his girl in the titular game, shares a charming aside about what he would do if he had met her at the Museum of Modern Art, and tries on a funky post-chorus in between. It shouldn’t work, but Lauv knows how to earn a listener’s trust — and the experience of hearing him confide who he is on How I’m Feeling is a moving one.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Album That Should Transcend Its R&B Fanbase:
Jhene Aiko, Chilombo

“In a sense, I am like a volcano, and this album is an eruption,” Jhene Aiko recently told Streets Talkin about Chilombo, which uses the singer’s last name as its title. Indeed, the 20-song project plays out like an uninterrupted flow of emotion — pain, anger, relief, strength and love — all coming from a source that has never been this unfiltered or confident in her abilities. “B.S.,” a collaboration with H.E.R., utilizes two disparate approaches to new-school R&B that coalesces into a beautiful whole, while previously released tracks like “P*$$Y Fairy (OTW)” and the Big Sean team-up “None Of Your Concern” sound stronger when digested in the context of an album. Aiko’s talent has been undeniable for years, but with Chilombo, she sounds comfortable letting that talent live in her own skin.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music

The Song That You’ll Be Calling Your Top 40 Station To Consider Playing:
The Aces, “Daydream”

Some of the best pop is purposely ephemeral, refusing to overstay its welcome while inviting its audience to come back and visit whenever they’d like. The Aces’ new single “Daydream” lasts for two-and-a-half minutes, and upon first listen evaporates into its well-designed pop-rock shimmer… but then you listen again, pick up on some lyrical gems (“I hold on to the smell of the sweater, that you wore in December, when we met,” goes one standout), latch onto the hooks that surround the main chorus, and, placing the group’s earlier work into context, how the song streamlines their sound into surefire radio fodder. “Daydream” is beguiling from the opening seconds, and becomes all the more rewarding when you skip back to the start when it abruptly concludes.

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on Apple Music
Listen on Spotify
Listen on TIDAL
Listen on YouTube Music