aria-label="Image credit"> Justice Mukheli/Courtesy of the artist

Bongeziwe Mabandla's "masiziyekelele" sends you racing through the streets of Johannesburg.

Justice Mukheli/Courtesy of the artist

Mental escapes can take many different forms — settling deep into a calming meditation, binging Netflix's Tiger King in one chaotic seven-hour sitting — but for me, borderless music exploration always conjures up the type of daydreams and adventures my brain really wraps itself around.

Like the supersonic 2000s nostalgia of Kid Cudi's "Teleport 2 Me," these tracks pluck your mind up and plop it into spaces and places of relatable comfort, camaraderie, strife and even insanity.

We're going to do a little digital globetrotting this week. Enjoy Ghanian trap, South African soul, Barbadian pop, U.K. rap and a few stateside tracks that call on far-off travel goals and memories of gathering before we even knew what social distancing was.

As always, this week's Heat Check playlist is refreshed and ready for spins once again via Spotify and Apple Music.

Bongeziwe Mabandla, "masiziyekelele (14.11.16)"

Bongeziwe Mabandla's six-minute chorale about love's moonstruck phase is a gorgeous saving grace in trying times. The South African soul singer transports you to the streets of Johannesburg to tag along with him and his new love, creating a rushing montage of flirtation, harmonies and butterflies. It's definitely a world worth getting lost in.


Odartei, "YSL"

Ghanian upstart Odartei's three-song EP, cool., slinks along with the kind of trappy Soundcloud production you might link to the likes of Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti. Odartei's sing-song flow on "YSL" offsets the theatrics of jolting woodwind and bass. A melodic moshpit awaits.


Don Toliver, "After Party"

"After Party" thrashes with a familiarity we're all eager to get back to — the exhilaration of a really good night out that's not done just yet. The ice cream truck instrumentals and easy-to-catch chorus place this joint in the top of Cactus Jack releases.


Alina Baraz, "Morocco (feat. 6LACK)"

Ahead of her debut album, It Was Divine, Alina Baraz's feather-light vocals serenade a last minute escape of the mind.

"Yeah you take me to another time zone / Without ever even leavin' my door / Steady ridin' to another life though / Oh, I look up and we in Morocco," Baraz assures.


Young T & Bugsey, "Don't Rush (feat. Headie One)"

Young T and Bugsey are a hip-hop duo hailing from Nottingham, U.K., whose latest album, Plead the 5th, is getting a well-deserved boost thanks to a recent social media challenge.

"Don't Rush (feat. Headie One)" has become the chosen track for a Black British beauty blogger challenge where women magically transform from satin-robed couch potatoes to certified baddies with just a stroke of a makeup brush. I aspire.


Ayoni, "Too Good"

Hailing from LA by way of Barbados, Ayoni is accustomed to pulling double duty. Nailing both RiRi and Drake's playful sparing verses, she still manages to add her own island kick to this cover of 2016's "Too Good."


Jenevieve, "Baby Powder"

With Cuban, Bahamian, Spanish and French heritage, Miami's Jenevieve is carving out her identity as new wave pop outlier in the best way possible. Silly, hazy and self-deprecating as hell, Jenevieve's "Baby Powder" is the track you leave on replay during an aimless joyride with your girls to distract yourself from texting your ex.


Orion Sun, "Coffee For Dinner"

Orion Sun's wide-eyed innocence and grounding timbre in her tone have always given her lyrics a sense of closeness, like you're right on her bedroom floor with her trying to make sense of all the conflicting signs.

"Workin' two jobs 'til I finally got a whip (whip) / Crossing state lines hoping I could feel something / I can't breathe, suffocating so close."


Uno Hype, "Elevate"

As the universe tests all your strength, Maryland's Uno Hype doubles down on his faith in the next generation by kicking game through a waterfall of horns.

"I ain't mean to lecture ya / But your bro want what's best for ya / Cause I was once you / That's why I'm checkin' ya / And I ain't in the best position / Young, dumb and never listened / All the work I resisted / And the people around man they didn't get the vision."


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 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…

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