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First Stream: New Music From RM, Metro Boomin, Lewis Capaldi and More

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Billboard’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, RM presents a bold solo vision, Metro Boomin ends another big year with a superstar affair, and Lewis Capaldi’s latest will turn your frown upside down. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:

RM, Indigo 

Even with the context of every recent solo project from the members of BTS, which have presented their millions of listeners with individual aesthetics and ideas, RM’s official solo debut Indigo ruptures with artistic ambition from the opening minutes, where he raps about his humanity over a buttery R&B beat before Erykah Badu slides in with a majestic pre-chorus. Indigo wriggles free of easy classification, much like its creator: the moment one tries to peg the project as a mainstream hip-hop effort, a song like the arena-ready sing-along “Wild Flower” or the forlorn strummer “Lonely” upends expectations. RM’s curiosity balances out his natural talent on Indigo, resulting in an accomplished, multi-faceted solo step.

Metro Boomin, Heroes & Villains 

From Future to 21 Savage to The Weeknd, Metro Boomin has helped mold the sound of some of the biggest mainstream stars of the past decade as a producer and songwriter — so when he releases his own projects, they (and many others) naturally show up to pay homage. Heroes & Villains, the long-awaited follow-up to the Atlanta studio whiz’s underrated 2018 opus Not All Heroes Wear Capes, is a star-studded heat check before the end of the year that allows superstars to operate over slow-rolling beats (“Trance,” a bleary-eyed team-up between Travis Scott and Young Thug, is a highlight), as well as engage in some rollicking genre exercises (“Creepin’” joyfully re-creates Mario Winans’ “I Don’t Wanna Know” with The Weeknd and 21 Savage).

Lewis Capaldi, “Pointless”

Lewis Capaldi became a star on the strength of sorrow: his singles “Someone You Loved” and “Before You Go” grew into unlikely top 10 Hot 100 hits while embracing heart-wrenched balladry, as the singer-songwriter bet on unbridled emotion as a commercial vehicle and won handily. “Pointless,” the second taste of his upcoming sophomore album Broken By Desire to be Heavenly Sent, taps into another rush of feelings, but this one could soundtrack a wedding dance instead of a tearful night in bed: “Everything is pointless without you,” Capaldi sings, the intensity of his voice and stabs of piano drawing the listener into his love story.

Morgan Wallen, One Thing at a Time (Sampler) 

After nearly two years of watching his Dangerous: The Double Album become one of the biggest commercial LPs of the past decade, and rebuilding trust in and out of Nashville following some high-profile controversies, Morgan Wallen is setting himself up for a major 2023, with a recently announced international stadium tour accompanied by a three-song sampler of an upcoming studio project. “One Thing at a Time,” “Days That End in Why” and “Tennessee Fan” don’t try to reinvent Wallen’s appeal, instead augmenting the long-running juxtaposition between his rustic, lived-in voice and sparkling, sophisticated country-pop songwriting, while also suggesting that fans will have plenty to look forward to in the new year.

Latto feat. GloRilla & Gangsta Boo, “FTCU” 

From the moment you realize that the acronym “FTCU” stands for “f-ck the club up” in the new collaboration between Latto, GloRilla and Gangsta Boo, you hope that the trio can come as correct as Three 6 Mafia and Waka Flocka Flame did on their respective destroying-the-club anthems from different generations of hip-hop. Fortunately, they deliver: “FTCU” is pure, menacing fun, with Latto dropping threats with efficiency and GloRilla relying on her drawl to accentuate punchlines like “Walk up in your party, make that bitch my party, ayy.”

Arcangel, Sr. Santos 

Sr. Santos, the new project from former Arcangel & De La Ghetto leader Austin “Arcangel” Santos, will likely draw most of its attention toward the explosive Bad Bunny team-up “La Jumpa,” which sounds ready to dominate clubs for the foreseeable future. Although Arcangel’s new album gains strength from its high-wattage collaborators — Bizarrap, Myke Towers and Duki all swing by — the reggaetón veteran also sounds reinvigorated on the project, surrounding the guest-heavy portions of the projects with sizzling solo tracks like “La Roca” and “PortoBello.”

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