First Stream: New Music From SZA, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Lana Del Rey and More

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, SZA’s SOS marks the return of a queen, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie fights inner demons and Lana Del Rey has a beautiful-sounding fun fact for you. Check out all of this week’s First Stream picks below:


Five years after dropping a jaw-dropping debut with Ctrl, SZA has finally returned with a follow-up that somehow sounds both pored-over, the product of endless hours in the studio sharpening edges and refining ideas, and as natural as the R&B star’s inherent gifts as a vocalist and songwriter. No one else could sing the words of SOS with an ounce of the personality that SZA brings to each track — in part because these songs are breathtakingly intimate, photographs of years of personal evolution as relationships scale up and sometimes crumble — but mostly because SZA is just that special of a performer, with every syllable on SOS popping out from the dense, varied production. SOS takes plenty of time to unpack across its 23 tracks, but whatever expectations you may have had for SZA’s second album probably weren’t high enough.

A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Me vs. Myself 

If Me vs. Myself, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie’s fourth studio album, ends up being the final major rap release of 2022, the NYC rapper will end up closing out the year on a triumphant note: his latest full-length meets the local-to-national hype that A Boogie has been incubating for years, and features the most complete songs of his career. That list begins with the Lil Durk team-up “Damn Homie,” which augments both rappers’ melodic instincts, and also includes the solo showcase “Ballin” and “Water (Drowning Pt. 2),” a sequel to A Boogie’s recent collaboration with Kodak Black that improves upon the original.

Lana Del Rey, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” 

The Jergins Tunnel, the passageway in Long Beach, Calif. that was abandoned in 1967, is a closed-off tunnel to a California beach — perfect lyrical fodder for Lana Del Rey, who sings on her stirring new track, “I can’t help but feel somewhat like my body marred my soul / Handmade beauty sealed up by two man-made walls.” The title track to her next full-length, “Did you know…” marries Del Rey’s sweeping approach to orchestral pop with an ideal subject, upon which the singer-songwriter can translate her longstanding curiosities with faded American beauty.

Polo G, “My All” 

“I’m just tryna drop a hit and make the club jump / But I hate that I was too deep in so young,” Polo G admits at the end of the chorus to “My All,” a new single to close out the year before it appears on his much-anticipated new project dropping in 2023. Most popular rappers wouldn’t close out a hook with a moment of such succinct honesty — at 23 years old, Polo G is already a veteran who has the ability to entertain the masses yet has witnessed too much personal strife — but vulnerability has always been the key to his mainstream appeal, and “My All” sets the stage for more intricate stories to be unfurled next year.

Paramore, “The News” 

Five years ago, Paramore preceded their album After Laughter with “Hard Times,” a brilliant bit of sociopolitical satire on which Hayley Williams begged to be excluded from reality’s narrative. Ahead of follow-up album This Is Why, the band grapples with everyday life in more serious fashion: “The News” questions how much space in our minds our modern atrocities, specifically wars in far-off countries, can take up before we explode with uselessness, as the band locks in to a jagged groove and Williams oscillates her tone between jittery and outraged to sell the song’s concept.

Jason Lipshutz