Prince Williams/Wireimage; Adele/YouTube; Josiah Rundles; Jamila Woods/YouTube; Shamir/YouTube Adele, Jamila Woods and Peter CottonTale, Shamir, Young Thug, and Lil Durk
Every Friday, EW's music team runs down the five best songs of the week. In today's edition, Adele wants to take it easy, Young Thug teams with Travis Scott and Drake, Shamir has an agenda, Lil Durk gives a brutal play-by-play, and Jamila Woods and Peter Cottontale keep the summer vibes coming.
"Easy on Me" — Adele
Adele has cemented her status as our patron saint of plainspoken, piano-led balladry, and some would argue the first single off her upcoming fourth album, 30, fits almost too snugly into her somber catalog. But if the singer's full-throated trademark sound hasn't shifted, if her heart is once again shattered, the stakes are higher now. She recently told Vogue that 30 is her attempt to explain her divorce to her 9-year-old, Angelo. "Easy on Me," then, isn't another late-night, Pinot Grigio–soaked lament for the one who got away; it's Adele sitting her son down to try to get him to understand why she left his father and blew up their family. "I was still a child, didn't get the chance to feel the world around me… so go easy on me," she pleads in the chorus, exposing her fears and fallibility like an open wound. Later, in the bridge, she admits, "I had good intentions and the highest hopes/But I know right now/It probably doesn't even show." This time, Adele doesn't just long to reconnect with an old flame. She's trying to make amends with the person she cherishes more than anything. —Jason Lamphier
"Bubbly" — Young Thug (feat. Drake and Travis Scott)
"My career 'bout to blast like bubbly," raps Young Thug on his new album, Punk. He must be speaking in past tense given how the eccentric artist has both solidified himself as a marquee name on the summer festival circuit and is set to appear on Saturday Night Live this weekend. On "Bubbly," Thugger and guest Travis Scott are firing on all cylinders, using a rapid, engaging cadence while producer Wheezy employs siren sounds in the background. Then the beat switches up, as Drake echoes Young Thug's "Ride in the Porsche, rockin' Tom Ford" brag before offering boasts only he could utter: "Been on the charts for 500 weeks, so somebody love when I speak." —Marcus Jones
"Gay Agenda" — Shamir
Two years after he won over a legion of critics and fans with his spry 2015 debut album, Ratchet, Shamir sharply exited the land of glossy dance-pop, opting instead for gritty, lo-fi indie. Skirting labels and subverting expectations is his calling card, and while this restlessness and insatiable thirst for reinvention have marred some of his self-released efforts, his new single finds him reinvigorated and more galvanized than ever. A collaboration with producer Hollow Comet, "Gay Agenda" is a scathing indictment of anyone who thinks they can pin him down or stand in his way. "You're just stuck in the box that was made for me/And you're mad I got out and I'm living free," the singer chants over darkly gorgeous synths and fuzzed-out, Trent Reznor–indebted industrial beats, before delivering his fiercest lyrics to date: "I will see you in hell/I will be bringing the heat." With his latest experiment, Shamir has made his own pretty hate machine, but from the rage emerges a message of radical, defiant self-love. —Jason Lamphier
"Pissed Me Off" — Lil Durk
Lil Durk's road to success has been one of literal survival. Though the Chicago drill pioneer has become a regular on the Hot 100, he's still trailed by the lingering threat of violence that haunts the genre. On "Pissed Me Off," Durkio addresses the recent murders of his brother D-Thang and protégé King Von, before giving a captivating play-by-play of the shoot-out that resulted from a home invasion of his and his fiancé's Atlanta house in July: "N----s ran inside my crib, but the Glock 10 was by the bed/I'll give my gun to India before I put it in your hand," he raps over an ominous Matthewfm beat. For those calling for retribution, Durk forcefully asks, "Why you act like you support us? If you do, hop in that coupe," and postulates on how he would seek vengeance before better instincts kick in: "You know that s--- be for the 'Gram/I keep my distance." —Marcus Jones
"WYD (You Got Me)" — Jamila Woods and Peter CottonTale
First came BJ the Chicago Kid and Vic Mensa's "The Taste." Now, three weeks later, fellow Chi-towners Jamila Woods and Peter CottonTale are giving their own spin on the laidback Midwestern summer jam (current season be damned). On "WYD," the duo are perfectly in sync — even when they're apart: "Good evening, I called you/I hope you received it/So hit me soon as you see this/I'll be there in times when you need me," they sing over velvet-soft drums and a delicately plucked guitar. They're soon riffing on days gone by ("Shout-out to the memories/Shout-out to the family tree") and asking the kinds of questions that only seem to pop up on long, hot days when you're killing time. Sings Woods: "All I need is a friendship I can rely on/Why's it always take me so long?" —Alex Suskind
Listen to our five favorite new tracks this week — and all the Friday Fives of 2021 — in the playlist below.
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