Trippe/Courtesy of the artist

Victoria Monét melds fantasy with reality for her latest, "Moment."

Dana Trippe/Courtesy of the artist

This is not a drill: Heat Check is back! After a short hiatus and some stellar, late-breaking 2019 releases, Heat Check has returned to recap you on the world of experimental R&B, hip-hop and everything in between.

2020 vision — the year and the hindsight — is all about feeling over thinking. After delivering an effortless Tiny Desk in 2019, Raveena is back with the Moonstone EP, featuring tracks that didn't quite fit into her debut album. Cerebral and inviting, singer-songwriter Sevdaliza returns after a year with the glitchy "Oh My God." Haitian-Canadian producer Kaytranada shook up the end of December by dropping his sophomore showstopper, BUBBA, and is luckily getting his roses in the new year nonetheless.

Whether its a bated bpm from New York newcomer Kayla Steen or a shockingly dead-on homage to DMX courtesy of Denzel Curry, these selects will jostle your expectations and fill in the nooks and crannies of your memory. Stream the playlist via Spotify and Apple Music.


Eric Penn, "Sinking Sand"

Sometimes the whole "falling in love" thing just feels like a socially acceptable form of asphyxiation. But with only a piano and some bare percussion, Eric Penn makes the dance of slow death sound all the more necessary. — Suraya Mohamed

YouTube

Kayla Steen, "Attached"

Kayla Steen teeters between consoling and cataclysmic while trying to convince her love to reconsider: "I'd go against the world to be your only girl / But you're still running from me / I'm only flesh and bone / Give me some room to grow / You can't keep running from me." Suraya Mohamed

YouTube

Liv.e, "SirLadyMakemFall"

What would happen if Erykah Badu, DJ Screw and Sa-Ra had a baby? You'd get Dallas-bred, LA-based Liv.e. "SirLadyMakemFall" is that lo-fi soul I've been looking for. — Bobby Carter

YouTube

Gil Scott-Heron / Makaya McCraven, "Running"

The late musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron was a predecessor of modern hip-hop. His final studio album, I'm New Here, released Feb. 2010, was re-imagined and released exactly a decade later by drummer, producer and beat scientist Makaya McCraven. The song "Running," off 2020's We're New Again, features familiar protest narratives in Scott-Heron's own voice supported by McCraven's original beat music. — Sidney Madden

YouTube

Denzel Curry, "DIET_"

Denzel Curry only operates on hyper speed. The Carol City, Fl., word wizard teamed up with burgeoning beat doctor Kenny Beats for a joint EP called UNLOCKED and across the project's eight-song run, manages to channel the resonant powers of DMX, Ghostface Killah and Busta Rhymes all at once. — Sidney Madden

YouTube

Victoria Monét, "Moment"

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Victoria Monét positions herself as the object of some lucky person's desire and appears out of thin air, offering one "Moment." "Life is but a dream that you manifested slowly / So f*** a fantasy, this your mother****** moment." No pressure. — Bobby Carter

YouTube

Nez, "Wild Youngster (feat. ScHoolboy Q)"

Producer Nez takes it back to his Chicago roots for this club banger and pulls frequent collaborator ScHoolboy Q into his element. Q is sounding surprisingly cozy in this pocket. — Bobby Carter

YouTube

All Songs Considered

Jun 08, 2021

Roséwave: Back 2 Basic

Enlarge this image It's not a genre; it's a lifestyle. Kara Frame/NPR hide captiontoggle caption Kara
Dec 29, 2020

Roséwave: Lost Summer

Enlarge this image We danced in kitchens, took long drives, caught up in backyards or on video chat, watched weddings from our
Jun 29, 2020

Heat Check: Underrated And Elevating

Enlarge this image cupcakKe switches her flow up so many times that "Discounts" is a raunchy and hilarious three-minute shopper bargain.
Jun 22, 2020

Heat Check: Can't Get It For Free

Enlarge this image Miami duo City Girls returns with their second full-length album, City on Lock. Prince Williams/WireImage/Getty Images hide…
Jun 15, 2020

Heat Check: Bigger Picture

Enlarge this image Lil Baby's "The Bigger Picture" is a conscious trap anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Matthew Geovany
Jun 08, 2020

Meet The 2020 Tiny Desk Contest Community

YouTube Each year, we receive thousands of entries to the Tiny Desk Contest, and the Contest team watches every single one. We get to hear songs from…
May 31, 2020

Heat Check: 'Black Joy Is Radical'

Enlarge this image Nubya Garcia's latest single "Pace" is all about diving into the many layers of joy. Adama Jalloh/Courtesy of
May 25, 2020

Heat Check: Got A Big Ego

Enlarge this image Amaarae cuts it up better than a moon-walking Samurai on "Body Count." Philip Boakye/Courtesy of the artist hide
May 03, 2020

Heat Check: Hippocampus Two-Steps

Enlarge this image Dreya Mac spits bars at a level far beyond a novice on her debut track "Skippin." Clara Setian/Courtesy
Apr 26, 2020

Heat Check: Shake Your Senses

Enlarge this image Rooted in languid rhythm, Octavian's "Poison" featuring Santi with OBONGJAYAR sounds like nothing else out. Crowns & Owls/Courtesy…
Apr 19, 2020

Heat Check: Double My W's

Enlarge this image Kenny Mason unveils his debut project Angelic Hoodrat with a cool-under-pressure, low-lid resolve. Nasser Boulaich/Courtesy of the…
Apr 12, 2020

Heat Check: Money In My Hand

Enlarge this image Don't play with Kari Faux. Play with your kids. Quil Lemons /Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption Quil
Apr 05, 2020

Heat Check: I Feel Void

Enlarge this image Empress Of's "Void" feels like a euphoric cross-genre culture clash, a dance party in a summer storm. Dorian Lopez/Courtesy
Mar 29, 2020

Heat Check: Teleport And Transform

Enlarge this image Bongeziwe Mabandla's "masiziyekelele" sends you racing through the streets of Johannesburg. Justice Mukheli/Courtesy of the artist…
Mar 22, 2020

Heat Check: Make It Make Sense

Enlarge this image Alex Isley's "Gone" perfects the art of subtle, fear-inducing seduction. Lauren Desberg /Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle…
Mar 08, 2020

Heat Check: Homecoming

Enlarge this image The laboriously-delayed Eternal Atake finally delivered big time for Lil Uzi Vert fans. Erika Goldring/FilmMagic/Getty Images hide…
Feb 23, 2020

Heat Check: Caught Up And Curious

Enlarge this image Linda Diaz's "Magic" swirls in the watercolor pools of a quirky, young love. Jonah Zorn Koplin/Courtesy of the artist
Feb 17, 2020

Heat Check: Répéter, Répéter

Enlarge this image Arlo Parks' "Eugene" spins a stinging reminder of getting left for convention. Charlie Cummings/Courtesy of the artist hide…
Feb 03, 2020

The Tiny Desk Contest Is Back For 2020

YouTube In the past year, we've had some pretty big names come perform at the Tiny Desk: Lizzo, Jimmy Eat World and Taylor Swift, to name a few.
Default Image
Dec 17, 2019

Bob Boilen's Top 20 Albums For 2019

Big Thief released two of Bob Boilen's favorite albums in 2019: U.F.O.F. and Two Hands. Michael Buishas hide captiontoggle caption Michael Buishas
Dec 16, 2019

Heat Check: Favorite Discoveries Of 2019

Enlarge this image Kirby, Odunsi (The Engine) and Hope Tala Courtney Loo & David Karp/Folarin Omolayole/Freddie Stisted/Courtesy of the artists hide…
Dec 01, 2019

Heat Check: Ode To The Cap

Enlarge this image Kilo Kish's glitchy, pithy "SPARK" sets fire to procrastination, pushing you to keep creating. Kish Robinson/Courtesy of the artist
Nov 17, 2019

Poll: Your Favorite Songs Of The 2010s

Oivind Hovland/Getty Images/Ikon Images What are your favorite songs of the past decade? These are tracks released between 2010 and 2019. We know
Nov 17, 2019

Heat Check: Charge The Haters Interest

Enlarge this image Denzel Curry's Super Saiyan energy offsets Glass Animals' eerie, horn-submerged production on "Tokyo Drifting." Elliot Arndt…
Nov 10, 2019

Heat Check: Lived-In R&B, Rap And Ragga

Enlarge this image With rich, cascading runs, Ayoni's "September" is a stand-out on this week's Heat Check. Caleb Griffin/Courtesy of the artist
Nov 10, 2019

Heat Check: Lived-In R&B, Rap And Ragga

Enlarge this image With rich, cascading runs, Ayoni's "September" is a stand-out on this week's Heat Check. Caleb Griffin/Courtesy of the artist
Oct 20, 2019

Heat Check: Getting Lost, Giving In

Enlarge this image TeaMarrr's mesmerizing new single "Kinda Love" is the type of daydream to put into action. Tyren Redd/Courtesy of the
Oct 06, 2019

Heat Check: Songs That Let It All Out

Enlarge this image The Pendletons provide a jazzy, dancing-in-your-living-room soundtrack to self-care. Ivan Noble/Courtesy of the artist hide…
Sep 29, 2019

Heat Check: Euphoric Shuffle Play

Enlarge this image Daniela Andrade's "Ayayai" (single artwork pictured here) shows off the artist's linguistic versatility. Yi-Shuan Lee/Courtesy of…
Sep 15, 2019

Heat Check: Future Nostalgia

Enlarge this image KIRBY's "Kool Aid" injects just the right doses of doo-wop and soul. Courtney Loo & David Karp/Courtesy of the
Sep 02, 2019

Heat Check: Friends Of Friends Of Friends

Enlarge this image Sudan Archives' "Confessions" is included in this week's Heat Check. Alex Black/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption…

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