NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Series has been delivering performance gems for over a decade now. Since the platform sparked its intimate performances at a media organization’s office in Washington, DC, many hip-hop faces from the major and minor leagues have graced the stage – or the corner of the office in this. case. Each generation of talent, from Wu-Tang Clan at Roddy Ricch, presented live broadcasts of approximately 20 minutes that draw the viewer as if there is a seat directly in front of the performer.
For rappers who typically use heavy instrumentation and deep musicality in their songs, performing with a live band can create a magical experience. For Anderson .Paak, having real instruments as a backdrop for her moving voice to crown is an experience far too familiar. So obviously he embodied his 2016 Tiny Desk performance with The Free Nationals, playing the tracks “Come Down”, “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance”, “Put Me Thru” and “Suede”.
Another notable example is Mac Millerthe performance of 2018, which captures his transmissible charisma and embodies more than he became a real artist, not just a rapper. The entire production is presented in a way that made it impossible not to feel every note he let out. He performed “Small Worlds”, “What’s the Use?” with Thundercat and “2009.”
Sweetness aside, Freddie gibbs and producer Madlib brought a more rugged feel to the set in 2019. But that doesn’t take away from the divinity of their Tiny Desk show. During their performance, the duo provided even more evidence than as rapper-producer combo, they are not lacking. “Education”, “Gat Damn”, “Soul Right” and “Freestyle S ** t” were all part of the set list.
Sometimes the singing is also diverted from the spotlight. And while they can be extremely effective, it’s not just solos. Take for example the producer Zaytoven. In addition to its solid showcase with Gucci Mane, Zay’s solo performance in 2019 had the passion of a Sunday church service in the South. You know, the ones where everyone has a paper fan waving for them to cool off. Future was supposed to show up at this Tiny Desk event, but as he was away Zaytoven, along with a group that supported him, performed instrumental versions of some songs he had produced for the rapper like “Mo Reala” and “Peacoat. “.
Then there’s one of the most classic Tiny Desk performances in NPR Music history: T-Pain. In 2014, the Florida rapper went viral for the performance because people were shocked they could sing without Auto-Tune. While T-Pain has made a career out of using voice modification technology, he has a lot of singing skills without it. Enter his versions of “Buy UA Drank (Shawty Snappin ‘)”, “Up Down (Do This All Day)” and “Drankin’ Patna” without the melody.
While there have been dozens to sift through, XXL watched and highlighted 25 of NPR Music’s best Tiny Desk performances over the past 10 years. Plus, we rank them all. Tap below.