of the artist

BIRTHH's angelic ascension will help you temporarily escape reality.

Sha Ribeiro/Courtesy of the artist

In a week of news updates on COVID-19, social distancing and looming uncertainty, music serves a unique purpose right now. Music has the power to soothe, amplify and excavate our emotions.

Heat Check is the playlist for a few moments away from reality. For your at-home workout. For background music during your virtual meeting and book club. For your stress baking. For a dance break with your dog. For generally subduing anxiety during weird times. We're not here to judge, just to help.

If Lil Yachty dressing up as Oprah isn't enough of a comical escape, the spiraling soliloquies of Jay Electronica are sure to make you laugh in astonishment. If the poignant words of Toronto's Mustafa don't cease your racing thoughts for a moment, BIRTHH's angelic ascension will send them aflutter. As always, this week's Heat Check playlist is here for you via Spotify and Apple Music.

Mustafa, "Stay Alive"

Toronto newcomer Mustafa recently transitioned from spoken-word poetry to music in response to the many loses he's suffered due to gun violence in his neighborhood. "Stay Alive" is a powerful plea to his friends accompanied by an equally potent and juxtaposed visual shot in Regent Park. I found it hard not to get choked up as images of inner city youth and lost innocence panned across the screen.

"With pride in your hand, a price on your head you can never let them win / Just put down that bottle, tell me you sorrows/ I care about you fam," Mustafa compels. Bobby Carter


BIRTHH, "Ultraviolet (feat. Ivy Sole)"

Italian singer, songwriter, producer and daydreamer Alice Bisi (aka BIRTHH) has the type of angelic tone that can help you temporarily float away from reality. On "Ultraviolet," her ascension is matched with a fast-but-potent verse from Charlotte, N.C., wordsmith Ivy Sole, striking a surprisingly carefree balance. — Sidney Madden

Brandon Banks, "BALANCE (feat. UMI)"

Brandon Banks and UMI ponder the big questions and strike the type of cooperative harmony you wish your morning coffee and creamer would do consistently.

"I'm only human, I'm just a nuisance, why do I exist? / I only destroy, I need some balance, I wanna make sense," Banks ruminates. — Sidney Madden


Chiiild, "Hands Off Me"

As a Heat Check playlist alum, this Montreal-based outfit creates a mesmerizing, synth-y soup in order to boil down lust to it's most basic terms. — Sidney Madden


Lil Yachty and DaBaby, "Oprah's Bank Account (feat. Drake)"

Since his graduation from the King of the Teens, Lil Yachty's pen game has benefited plenty of acts on Quality Control's roster. Now, on his latest single, Lil Boat strategically scooches back into the spotlight with a fire collab and hilarious full-length visual to match. Genius. — Sidney Madden



After absolutely killing her debut at the Tiny Desk, I'm convinced Chika is primed to make a big impact on the genre in the coming months and years. Her debut EP, Industry Games, is 20 minutes of non-stop audible acrobatics. — Sidney Madden


Bree Runway, "APES***"

The iconic scream from "Pump Up the Jam" takes on a whole new meaning thanks to this U.K. artist's pop-punk-techno fever dream.

"How could think you could ever get next to me / Check the stats, we ain't got the same destiny / Tell 'em move, bye bye, yeah, rest in peace / Tryin' steal my sauce / We ain't got the same recipe." Sidney Madden


Jay Electronica, "The Neverending Story"

Track four on Jay Electronica's debut album, A Written Testimony, takes me back to the feeling that drew me to his music over ten years ago — back when you had to rewind the verse to catch all the metaphors.

Before he passes the mic to Jay-Z, Jay Elec reminds us who's providing the psychedelic backdrop: "Gip-Gip-Giggity, Alchemist put the icing on the soliloquy / Let it be forever known that I niced up to pen something considerably." — Bobby Carter


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 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.
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…

Northern California
Public Media Newsletter

Get the latest updates on programs and events.