5 For Friday: Venna, PinkPantheress, Brent Faiyaz & More

The new month has brought in revitalising rays of sunshine as the torrents of days past have eluded us. For now. The upturn in weather has affected moods, plans and our weekly playlist to varying degrees. But we’re sure that you’ll appreciate what comes in this week’s 5 For Friday as myself and Damola share our thoughts on the releases that have moved us the most this week. Without further ado, let us kick off July with one of our most exciting rotations yet.

Brent Faiyaz feat. Drake – Wasting Time

Brent Faiyaz has carved out a niche of his own brand of hedonistic R&B in recent years. Happy to be the bad guy, Brent revels in situations where he’s applying the hurt. But on ‘Wasting Time’ – the dreamy underscore produced by iconic duo The Neptunes, might’ve put Brent in a different frame of mind. Immediately, his deliveries and inflections are highly reminiscent of 8701-era Usher, specifically ‘U Don’t Have To Call’ – which this song takes a lot of its cues from. The chorus “If you’re gonna waste your time / then waste your time with me” followed by “you can have all the space / it’s no pressure, girl…”  – sounds like a classic Usher uttering in the way he spoke with loving anguish and maturity in the same breath. The production is straight out of The Neptunes’ playbook.

It’s the kind of beat you could hear blasting through a Miami mansion or cosied up by a fireplace. The Neptunes have always had music for any occasion, no matter the genre. Timeless in their sound and its nostalgia, yet ‘Wasting Time’ feels like a modern take on their 00’s R&B run. We need a The Neptunes Present… Clones sequel now. Drake jumps on with a couple classic lines. “New piece around it’s chess games / cause shorty stay with calculated moves / like Beth Harmon” shows Drizzy has no problem matching Brent’s toxic energy. A match made in heaven.

Jaykae feat. Jorja Smith – 1000 Nights

Two of Birmingham and Walsall’s biggest talents in Jaykae and Jorja Smith bring their worlds together in this collaboration. On ‘1000 Nights’ – the focus is on everyday people and everyday occurences. Crime, inequality, loss. The song counters its themes with garage-infused production which will make you start bopping. Might even crack out a little two-step. Jorja switches it up a bit and starts spitting “that fool said he left the gate open / that’s fine / last time till release day / heavy on the mind when the heart breaks / something for the struggle and the dark days…”. All of this is said on the backdrop showing the murkiest of Midlands life (shot in Small Heath) – a man in over his head and girlfriend in despair at these difficult circumstances.

Jaykae also matches his flow with the garage feels on this cut, emphasising the “i’s and y’s’’ and tuning up the pitch on these bits to land that classic garage delivery. He is able to spur off fiery quotables or get cinematic with his storytelling. He opts for the latter here – and doesn’t disappoint – the picture he paints of a father who’s recently sent to prison and left a mother to raise the kids by herself in a manor that isn’t mannerly is excellent. The concept comes together powerfully, visually, it’s reminiscent of a Mike Leigh piece with its pensive, reflective social realism.

PinkPantheress – Passion

The 20-year-old viral sensation PinkPantheress has been making waves on TikTok and beyond with her self-styled brand of ‘new nostalgic’, a sound that blends the euphoric highs of genres such as drum and bass, pop and funk. Her latest single ‘Passion’ reinforces the Parlophone signee’s bedroom popstar vibe and doubles down on the DIY efforts she built up in her years practicing her pen game.

‘Passion’ is laced with mesmeric production by IZCO and Jkarri, which really leans into the drum and bass and pop elements of PinkPantheress’s sound. “They say I don’t have passion the same / as I did a few years before / they don’t see the light there anymorе” is just a taste of her lyricism as her bleak lyrics contrast the ethereal experience that ‘Passion’ brings. The young artist from Bath is yet to drop a project but after hearing her other singles as well as a standout cameo on GoldLink’s HARAM! project, we’re sure that she has more in the stash before she officially gives us a project. Watch this space.

Venna feat. Knucks – Standard

The nature of Venna and Knucks’ kinship goes deeper than music, it shows when the former has laced some of the latter’s best work with the soothing sounds of the saxophone (‘Home’, ‘Standout’). But the Grammy award-winning multitalented musician steps out in his own right as an artist with the assist from Knucks on the mellow jam ‘Standard’. Over gentle keys and the familiar sax, Knucks gets busy on this production with nifty wordplay and the confidence of an Igbo man getting to his prime.

Such gorgeous production is a shared effort between the tandem and Marco Bernardis, giving Knucks room to flex lyrics like “if you tryna get a feature of mine / better get that shit now, what a reasonable time / my time ain’t stop climbing and neither’s my price”. The accompanying visuals captures what would be considered a nice summer’s day for the guys; great weather, a kickabout, no stress. Director Adama Jalloh does a beautiful job in displaying the beauty and diversity of black people – to quote Jay Z “we don’t just shine, we illuminate the whole show”.

dvsn x Ty Dolla $ign feat. Mac Miller – I Believed It

Announced with no prior notice, R&B duo dvsn and California lothario Ty Dolla $ign have announced a joint project to come sooner than we expect, and have given us a taste of thinsg to come with its first single. Titled ‘I Believed It’, the soulful vintage comes courtesy of joint production from Nineteen85 and Ty Dolla $ign, who combine well to build around a sample of  ‘(You’re Living) In A Dream World’ by The Continental Four. If this is the standard to come on their currently untitled joint project, then we are in for a treat.

Both vocalists trade verses on a tempo that is a bit quicker than dvsn are usually known best for – unless you take some of their recent collaborations into account – and features a posthumous verse from the late, great Mac Miller, who joins the duo in trading heartfelt tales. Enjoy this one for now ahead of the upcoming drop on OVO Sound.