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toggle caption Clara Setian/Courtesy of the artist

Dreya Mac spits bars at a level far beyond a novice on her debut track "Skippin."

Clara Setian/Courtesy of the artist

Kick-in-the-door debuts, lowkey scorchers and dynamic rap duos fill this memorable edition of Heat Check. These are tracks that stop you in your skips and snuggle up real close with your hippocampus. The kind of songs you'll reference in conversations with your friends as big moments, either for the artists involved or the genres they hopscotch around.

This week's Heat Check includes picks artists I was introduced to thanks to my friends at Not 97, the music discovery podcast that prioritizes under-the-radar talent. London-hailing rapper Jeshi and Chicago singer-songwriter Tasha both came up in last week's round table discussion and I haven't been able to stop playing them since. Revel in this week's Heat Check refresh on Spotify now.


Dreya Mac, "Skippin"

Dreya Mac's work as a dancer and instructor led her to work with Stormzy last year. She's evidently caught the bug and dropped one of the most impressive debut tracks of 2020. She further impresses by directing a dark, boisterous accompanying video.

In a mere two minutes and change, Mac raps in couplets and triplets, throwing emphasis on a line or two with brilliant harmonies and spits bars at a level far beyond a novice: "You can cry me a river then build me a bridge / But that's offering me dinner then closing the fridge."Bobby Carter

YouTube

Jeshi, "SAME SONGS"

Jeshi cleverly houses three tracks in one as this London rapper's rhymes drip with apathy and indignation. Jeshi's cynical side-eye never blinks as he chronicles his champagne problems (literally) and provides a myriad of moody boy IG captions: "Left my heart in a bottle of Dom Pérignon." Sidney Madden

YouTube

Joyce Wrice, "That's On You"

On a sound bed of soft electric guitar, Joyce Wrice puts the game-playing aside and gets the courage to ask the important questions. Just like a time-lapse montage that pops up in the last half hour of a classic romantic drama, Wrice's dulcet vocals and the track's sparse production allow you to disregard the clock and get lost in thought. — Sidney Madden

YouTube

Tasha, "But There's Still The Moon"

Tasha's maternal blessing of "Lullaby" made for an unanimous tearjerker on Not 97, not only for its clarity and depth, but for its surprising simplicity. In her latest release, "But There's Still the Moon," Tasha still serves up her lyrics with ambiguous, plain-spoken delivery, managing to say so much with so little. "Losing what my hurt brings / Keeping my best thing to myself / Losing what my hurt brings / Keeping my worst thing to myself." Sidney Madden

YouTube

Nakala, "Reconsider"

Obstacles, exes and egos be damned, Nakala refuses to be friendzoned. Her cathartic verses imbue self-deprecating flirting with frank reality checks. She makes a convincing case.

"You already said you love me / I already said I wanna try / If it's still me you wanna hit up / then maybe you can reconsider." Sidney Madden

YouTube

Remi Wolf, "Photo ID"

I get the sense that Remi Wolf is the person who leaves wine stains on the carpet at house parties because she refuses to compromise her dance moves for the sake of monitoring her cup's contents. If that's the case, I feel her.

The shameless sheen of "Photo ID" comes with a complimentary trip in the form of an animated video. Don't be surprised when this track two-steps its way into your memory bank for the long haul. — Sidney Madden

YouTube

Buddy & Kent Jamz, "Bad Boys"

Buddy and Kent Jamz dropped one of the best collab tapes of 2020 so far. Quiet as it may be kept amid a sea of big-budget releases, Janktape Vol. 1 is the type of project that will build in the months to come. Boisterous hooks and snarky bars on cuts like "Bad Boys" lock this duo's chemistry into place. — Sidney Madden

YouTube

Khalid & Summer Walker, "Eleven"

Two of R&B's contemporary heavy hitters team up for a woozy, subdued scorcher. But while the verses are laidback and lowkey, the track's visual is anything but. Khalid and Summer face off in Fast & Furious style midnight race through LA, only catching up to each other for a split second before hitting overdrive. — Sidney Madden

YouTube

All Songs Considered

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Meet The 2020 Tiny Desk Contest Community

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Enlarge this image Amaarae cuts it up better than a moon-walking Samurai on "Body Count." Philip Boakye/Courtesy of the artist hide
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 09, 2020

Heat Check: Going All Out

Enlarge this image Victoria Monét melds fantasy with reality for her latest, "Moment." Dana Trippe/Courtesy of the artist hide captiontoggle caption…
Feb 03, 2020

The Tiny Desk Contest Is Back For 2020

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Default Image
Dec 17, 2019

Bob Boilen's Top 20 Albums For 2019

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Heat Check: Favorite Discoveries Of 2019

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Heat Check: Ode To The Cap

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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

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Oct 20, 2019

Heat Check: Getting Lost, Giving In

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Oct 06, 2019

Heat Check: Songs That Let It All Out

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Sep 29, 2019

Heat Check: Euphoric Shuffle Play

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Sep 15, 2019

Heat Check: Future Nostalgia

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