Khalid — Free Spirit
Khalid is a Free Spirit. One year removed from Suncity and two from his breakout debut album American Teen, the Texas star unveils his newest body of work.
Free Spirit is a 17-song effort that includes previously-released singles like “Don’t Pretend,” “Talk,” “Self,” and “My Bad.” SAFE is listed as a guest on “Don’t Pretend” while John Mayer shows up as a featured act on “Outta My Head.”
The project features a wide range of producers, including Murda Beatz, DJ Dahi, and Hit-Boy, as well as Digi, Stargate, Charlie Handsome, Disclosure, and Scribz. Khalid uses those soundscapes to unload his emotions.
“We had it all, but we lost and that’s our fault,” he sings on the intro. “I’ve been focusing on putting me first / Still could never see you with somebody else / I can’t even live with being by myself / That’s the part of me that really needs your help.”
Free your Spirit with Khalid below.
Tory Lanez — International Fargo
Tory Lanez goes global. Shortly after dropping his Love Me Now LP last year, the Toronto rapper-singer unleashed a surprise mixtape, International Fargo, as a gift for his supporters.
Don’t expect an original body of work here. Instead, Swavey chooses to remix a few tracks on this project, including Koffee’s “Toast,” Davido’s “Fall,” and Aya Nakamura’s “Djadja.” Those artists appear as guests on this effort. Elsewhere, Tory revamps Stylo G & The Fanatix’s “Touch Down” on the intro. Later, he teams up with new signee Melii for their take on Starboy’s “Soco.”
Lanez, who is currently touring through Europe with Drake, explained how the International Fargo idea came to fruition: “I was on the couch wondering if I should make the most out of my EUROPE experience and DROP A FREE TAPE full of the REMIXES to the HOTTEST INTERNATIONAL SONGS RIGHT NOW !?!”
Since these songs are unofficial remixes, Tory kept this as a Soundcloud release. Listen to the 5-song set below.
Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus — “Old Town Road”
Viral sensation Lil Nas X continues to build upon the success of his “Old Town Road” single with an official remix featuring country legend Billy Ray Cyrus.
“Living like a rockstar,” Billy Ray sings. “Spent a lot of money on my brand new guitar / Baby’s gotta have diamond rings and Fendi sports bra / Ridin’ ’round Rodeo in my Maserati sports car.”
“Old Town Road” has been the talk of the music industry of late. In the wake of the song’s viral rise, Billboard removed it from its Hot Country chart, claiming that it “does not currently merit inclusion.” They explained, according to Associated Press: “While ‘Old Town Road’ incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
Following criticism over the matter, Billboard said that its decision had “absolutely nothing to do” with the artist’s race. Nevertheless, many criticized the ruling, including several country stars like Jake Owen. “We can jam anytime @LilNasX,” Owen tweeted. “Love that song.”
It’s unclear how Billy Ray Cyrus’ feature will impact the song’s success on Billboard’s country charts. For now, ride towards the “Old Town Road” below.
Anderson .Paak feat. Smokey Robinson — “Make It Better”
Anderson .Paak wants to “Make It Better.” Fresh off November’s Oxnard LP, the Aftermath rapper-crooner rolls out a new single from his forthcoming album, Ventura. The iconic Smokey Robinson guests on the cut, which was produced by .Paak, Alchemist, and Fred Wreck.
The Oxnard star uses this smooth and soulful new track to reminisce on romantic recollections. “Remember when we first met?” he asks his lover on the track. “We were having so much fun / So now, how could we both forget, telling each other we’re the one? / We would make love at the drop of a hat / Remember that?”
Robinson co-wrote the track, according to Anderson. “He’s still got it,” .Paak told Beats 1, as per Rap-Up. “He came through. He said, ‘You gotta make it nice, baby. You gotta say something sweet to her, baby. If you want her to fall in love, you gotta make love to her with your words.’”
Boasting features from André 3000, Brandy, Nate Dogg, and more, Ventura is due to land April 12. It’ll be the “final” installment of Anderson’s beach series, which also includes Malibu and Venice. Watch the Andy Hines-directed video for “Make It Better” below.
Jordin Sparks & Elijah Blake — 1990 Forever
Jordin Sparks and Elijah Blake travel down memory lane with the release of their new duets EP, 1990 Forever. The project is an ode to ‘90s R&B, as the title suggests, and the intro plays into that theme. “I love the way, baby, you love me…like some ‘90s R&B,” Sparks sings on the cut. “I love the way you love me…like a deep cut on replay.”
Sparks also addressed the EP’s theme during an interview with YouTube content creator Terrell. “We wanted to release it around Valentine’s Day because it’s a lot of love songs,” she explained. “There’s a breakup song on there. There’s a full innuendo song on there. There’s a sad song on there. So, it’s all the different stages of what we feel like when we’re going through love and emotions. It’s really good. We’re both sanging with an a.”
This is Sparks’ first release since 2015’s Right Here Right Now while Blake is coming off last year’s Bijoux 23. Elijah said it was important to release this effort now as a message to other artists. “I just want this to get to the people so that other creatives we’re surrounded by can be empowered by this,” he explained.
Travel back to the ’90s below.