Hits of the Week – Featuring SZA, Free Nationals and more

This week, we present you with a combination of dreamy pop, a groovy amalgamation of rap and R&B, as well as a friend-zone anthem for the ages.

Welcome back to HUNGER’s Hits of the Week: your one-stop shop for all the best in music right now. February is almost over, and the music industry is now in full flow following the typical winter slumber, so it’s only fitting this week’s edition includes several stars. Earlier this month, we saw the return of musical giants like Dua Lipa and Don Toliver, and now, SZA has returned with the dreamy ‘Saturn’. Meanwhile, Free Nationals called in heavy hitters Anderson .Paak and A$AP Rocky for their latest release. Catch all those and the rest of the tracks you need to add to your weekly playlist shake-up below.

Sza – ‘Saturn’

After debuting her lush new single, ‘Saturn’, during a Grammys ad this year, SZA surprise released the track on Thursday evening. The ode to heartbreak begins with the lonely verse: “If there’s another universe, please make some noise/ Give me a sign/ This can’t be life/ If there’s a point to losing love.” The chorus makes the case for teleporting to a new planet entirely as she sings, “Life’s better on Saturn/Got to break this pattern of floatin’ away,” before declaring: “Find something worth saving/It’s all for the taking, I always say” is dreamy and hazy, her cherry-sweet vocals providing a buoyant levity to the lyrics’ dark tones. Those considering ‘Saturn’ as a warm-up for Lana (the deluxe version of SOS) may be in luck – maybe not – but it’s yet again a reminder of the fact that no matter how long it takes, SZA is nothing if not consistent.

Blanco – ‘Let Me Go / Protagonist’ 

Kennington-raised rapper Blanco has come a long way since bursting on the scene back in 2019. The musician came to prominence during the UK’s drill takeover, positioning himself as an artist who would not only become one of the genre’s biggest stars but transcend it altogether. Now, Blanco returns with a double release, ‘Let Me Go / Protagonist’, following on from his acclaimed 2023 project, Rebourne. The introspective, atmospheric ‘Let Me Go’ sees Blanco leaving behind his past experiences in favour of pastures new over a soulful sample. Meanwhile, on ‘Protagonist’, Blanco pulls no punches and goes back to basics over a stripped-down, haunting drill beat, reminding us all why exactly he’s regarded as one of the UK’s most exciting and intricate lyricists.

Free Nationals ft. Anderson .Paak and A$AP Rocky – ‘Gangsta’

Free Nationals have teamed up with frequent collaborator Anderson .Paak, as well as A$AP Rocky, for a scorching new track, ‘Gangsta’, which amalgamates the signature components of each act and results in untouchable musical chemistry. Over a groovy, hypnotic beat, which comes by way of brilliant production by Free Nationals, Rocky taps into a sense of bravado, remembering his father, who taught him his gangster ways. And Anderson .Paak delivers a soulful chorus, somehow making the life of a gangster sound smooth and endlessly sweet. ‘Gangsta’ also comes with a François Rousselet-directed music video, in which pre-teen versions of .Paak and Rocky ride around a cartoon Los Angeles in a muscle car, run from the law, testify in court, engage in super soaker shootouts, and throw Molotov cocktails. It’s a hell of a ride, both visually and audibly.

Audrey Nuna ft. Teezo Touchdown ‘Starving’

Never has the devastating gut punch of getting friend-zoned (or finding oneself in the unfortunate realms of unrequited love) been expressed so eloquently as Audrey Nuna and Teezo Touchdown harmonising: “I’m starving/ And you just wanna be friends.” The Audrey and Teezo partnership proves to be a powerful one, which finds the two artists combining their distinct auras and aesthetics on a captivating three-and-a-half-minute cut. Meanwhile, the video compliments the pair’s exuberant deliveries. Directed by Audrey’s close creative collaborator Khufu Najee, ‘Starving’ shows two versions of Audrey – who she is versus who she is becoming – as they travel through a Tokyo-esque scenescape and break bread in the form of bejewelled delicacies, ultimately finding harmony in their differences.

oogie – ‘bake’

oogie has cemented himself as one of London’s most intriguing and talented artists as of late and has now returned with the next single from his upcoming project, Phew. Titled ‘bake’, the production sees skippy percussive elements fill the speakers with a sleek D’n’B-infused beat alongside melodic keys before switching up halfway through to a darker, more menacing trap-style beat. All the while, oogie delivers raw anecdotal tales through his unique tone and captivating cadence. With his brand new project phew hitting the shelves next month, 2024 is, no doubt, set to be his biggest year yet.    

WriterChris Saunders