aria-label="Image credit"> Lauren Desberg /Courtesy of the artist

Alex Isley's "Gone" perfects the art of subtle, fear-inducing seduction.

Lauren Desberg /Courtesy of the artist

When parts of your world seem unfathomable, music always makes sense. Whether it's a comeback from a dark horse R&B crooner, a surprise drop from a storied rap rule-breaker, a subtle warning from a blossoming soul protege or some island-sourced reggae fire, the songs that take us out of reality for a few minutes at a time are more necessary now than ever.

This week's Heat Check playlist is refreshed and ready for you via Spotify and Apple Music.


Serena Isioma, "Sensitive"

Just as you get used to her psyched-out, Fefe Dobson-channeling spunk, around 1:40, Serena Isioma hits you with a smooth guitar switch-up and how she really feels.

YouTube

Childish Gambino, "12.38"

Like a taped-up waterbed leaking with a slow and steady drip, Childish Gambino builds up just enough tension on "12.38" to keep things wet, but not soppy. His six-minute tale of a moonlit rendezvous makes way for disorienting and delectable features from 21 Savage and Kadhja Bonet.

YouTube

Melanie Faye, "It's A Moot Point"

Melanie Faye is an ambidextrous talent, a Tiny Desk alum (peep her holding down the Masego Tiny Desk on bass) and definitely a name to follow for outlying R&B sounds.

YouTube

Alex Isley, "Gone"

Under four minutes, Alex Isley perfects the art of subtle, fear-inducing seduction. Her soft, buoyant tone on "Gone" is a suave disguise for a blunt message: "Make it make sense / Carefree is cool, but not at my expense / Tell me what matters 'cause I don't know where you've been."

YouTube

Manny Norte, 6LACK, Rema & Tion Wayne, "4AM"

Afropop, R&B and ragga flavors? The heat coming off of this collab beckons a cross-cultural super group formation ASAP!

YouTube

Friday Night Cru, "Follow My Lead (feat. Tessellated & Amaarae)"

With the chaos of reality looming all week, a lucid reggae daydream is most necessary right about now. Friday Night Cru, Tessellated and Amaarae channel sweeter, simpler times.

YouTube

Casey Cope, "PAINT"

Sometimes, it's better not to overthink things. Point blank: this song from the San Leandro rapper is wildly infectious and the video is even better. According to Cope's Twitter, "I shot this on a $25 budget, on iPhone, edited in iMovie, did the editing/VFX on my breaks at work... and I'm proud af this dumb-ass video."

Get it how you live, right?

YouTube

Father Tom, "Angels & Demons"

With a kick-push pace of a skater trying to beat barreling traffic, New York's Father Tom delivers a quick-tongued sermon on perseverance.

"Thought I was an angel 'til I realized all my demons / Thought I was defeated, baby it ain't gon be easy."

YouTube

The Weeknd, "Snowchild"

The return of R&B's melancholy innovator has, so far, been marked with praise, fanfare and crazy visuals. But while some fans were hoping that production credits from his House of Balloon days would translate to an extension of his groundbreaking work, After Hours is shrouded in more of a toxic, '80s pop cellophane. Through the glitz, "Snowchild" stands out as a deft HOB throwback, proving that even if Abel may never go back, he still remembers.

"I used to pray when I was 16 / If I didn't make it I'd probably make my wrists bleed / Not to mislead, turn my nightmares into big dreams / Whole squad mobbin' even though we only six deep."

YouTube

dvsn, "Between Us (feat. Snoh Aalegra)"

With a masterful flip of Usher's 1998 classic "Nice & Slow," Toronto duo dvsn prime fans for its upcoming album, A Muse in Her Feelings, by enlisting Snoh Aalegra, a modern day muse and scale climber in her own right.

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 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

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.
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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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