Welcome to Variety Music’s third-ever Fri 5, our collection of the best, most noteworthy or simply most remarkable new songs from the past week. It is not complete or definitive or a fight-to-the-death “best of,” but rather a bunch of songs that we find interesting — because a world without five interesting new songs every week would be a sad world indeed. (Read last week’s Fri 5 here, and the week before’s here.)
Of course, the blockbusters this week are Lady Gaga’s stellar return to form, “Chromatica,” and the Rosalia-Travis Scott tag team “TKN,” both of which we already reviewed — following are five we haven’t.
Juelz Santana “Justice for George” It’s impossible to ignore the horrors we see on our screens every day, and George Floyd’s completely unjustified death — okay, we’ll say it, murder — at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has galvanized the country. Veteran rapper Juelz Santana earlier this week dropped a segment of a song that addresses the larger issue of police brutality against the black community, but was posted on Instagram with a photo of Floyd.
“All they wanna do is prosecute us/ Shoot us when they ain’t gotta shoot us,” Santana raps. “They kill us, turn around, and then protect their own/ Meanwhile, we can’t even protect our own/ If we try, they lock us up and don’t wanna send us home/ Next time you see your kids they be already grown.” Hopefully it is the first of many songs to come that speak out against the mind-boggling number of injustices we see in Trump’s America.
Juice WRLD featuring Trippie Redd “Tell Me U Luv Me”
This track is the second to be released from a forthcoming posthumous album, apparently called “Outsiders,” assembled by the family of Juice WRLD, the Chicago rapper who died last year of an accidental overdose at just 21. (The first posthumous song, “Righteous,” dropped last month.) While little information accompanied the release of this collaboration with his friend Trippie Redd, the midtempo song comes with a video directed by Cole Bennett and a call for support to the Live Free 999 Fund, a charitable organization which aims to help young people struggling with their mental health. The fund was established by the rapper’s mother, Carmela Wallace, earlier this year.
Tank and the Bangas “For Andre” As if to contrast with these strife-filled times, New Orleans polyglot group Tank & the Bangas released a breezy song about long-low-laying Outkast member Andre 3000, who occasionally drops brilliant verses on other artists’ songs but has been largely MIA for almost 15 years. So the group paid him tribute (even singing at one point, “I want to marry Andre”), just because. “We love André 3000. We love Outkast. André has culturally shaped hip-hop in a very unique way from his clothing to his cadence,” they wrote in a statement accompanying the song. “Tank fell in love with him along with the rest of the world a long time ago. For his birthday, we all thought an ode to him would be the perfect gift.”
Blimes and Gab “Shellys (It’s Chill)” One of the glories of working in music is the great, feel-good songs that come out of absolutely nowhere — and this track from Blimes and Gab is not only a great, feel-good song that came out of nowhere, it’s a perfect summer song. A tag team of Seattle MC Gifted Gab and San Francisco-bred Blimes Brixton (who describe themselves as “your badass aunties who secure the B.A.G.”), the pair had an earlier single, “Feelin’ It,” featured on “Insecure” and their debut album, “Talk About It,” drops next month.
Tayla Parx “Dance Alone” Variety 2018 Hitmaker honoree Tayla Parx — who has crafted hits for Ariana Grande, Janelle Monae, Christina Aguilera and others — speaks for a lot of us with this mid-tempo ‘70s soul groove, which has perhaps the defining chorus of 2020: “I don’t wanna dance alone…” Her second album, titled with equal acuity, “Coping Mechanism,” is out later this year.