Sidney Madden

This week's Heat Check picks stand out not for sounding different, but for already feeling oddly familiar. Though all of these tracks are new releases, there's something lived-in about each one. Sometimes close to home is the best jumping off point.

BJ the Chicago Kid took the roughly 15 minutes we generally allot for a Tiny Desk performance as a challenge. The 34-year old R&B mainstay used his moment at the desk to fit in as many of his most cherished songs as possible — Nine songs in 17 minutes to be exact.

"I can twerk to anything. I'd twerk to Mozart!"

A bold statement. One I overheard through the chatter and bass of a Halloween party this past weekend. From across the living room-turned-dance floor, whose hardwood bore the scuff marks from shoes, scrapes from Ikea couches and a weird, sticky splotch that definitely fell into the category of "We'll worry about that later," homegirl in a Guy Fieri costume (let that part sink in) proclaimed herself to be a cross-genre twerker.

After some confusion, mixed messaging and conflicting timelines, Kanye West's ninth studio album, Jesus Is King, has arrived. In conjunction with the music, the Chicago rapper announced a new documentary film, also called Jesus is King, due out Oct. 25 exclusively on IMAX theaters.

You can stream this playlist on Spotify.

Letting a song take you away has become increasingly difficult. Using music to get through life often means multitasking while you listen; getting ready, commuting, working, studying, showering, practicing, cooking, eating, cleaning...

Letting your thoughts swim in its zenosyne to a curated soundtrack almost sounds like a luxury.

"Music discovery" isn't just some catchy tagline we deploy in press releases. The staff of NPR Music lives for finding compelling, exhilarating, jaw-dropping talent from every genre and giving those artists the space to shine. And not to pat ourselves on the back or anything — *pat pat* — but out of the nearly 900 Tiny Desk concerts we've published, a bunch have created star-making moments for boldface names in popular music.

"I been gone for a minute, now I'm back with the jump off."

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Tyler, The Creator's fifth studio album, IGOR, arrived with little notice back in May.

You can stream this playlist via Spotify.

We recently got a new batch of bright-eyed, music-loving interns here at NPR Music. To get to know the new recruits, we asked them to share the first CD — I know, archaic -- they bought with their own money, to which one hip-hop-inclined cherub answered, "Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak."

A lot of the albums out this week deal with self-discovery and deep reflection on the nature of being human. The members of MUNA look at aging and personal growth on their latest, Saves the World; Lower Dens weighs the madness of a country driven by competition; and the country super group The Highwomen releases its highly anticipated, self-titled album, one that celebrates the power of women while pushing back on the unwritten rules that have allowed men to dominate country radio for so long.

Listen to this playlist via Spotify.

We all love a good plot twist, right? Otherwise you end up in a feedback loop of verse-bridge-chorus monotony you've been spoon-fed for decades and convinced you "like."

In the words of our millennial patron saint, Frank Ocean, "Summer's not as long as it used to be."

Playground ridicule has a way of sticking in your memory. It can haunt you, motivate you or barely phase you now, but still, it lingers. Like many of us, the quality that's most striking about Baby Rose is the same one that used to get her bullied in school. "When I was younger, I used to be teased about my voice," she says with a raspy laugh.

Sleater-Kinney took a lot of chances on its latest album, The Center Won't Hold, upending its much beloved sound to experiment with strange sonics, dark textures and surprising forms. The result is one of the most adventurous, exciting – and best – albums the band has ever made. We open this week's New Music Friday with a look at how and why The Center Won't Hold works and what the recent departure of drummer Janet Weiss means for the band at this point in its quarter-century long career.

Settling into summer's swelter, this week's additions to Heat Check include re-surfaced favorites, lovesick tropes, a gut-punch of a wake-up call and, of course, a couple swerving, drink-spilling bops for good measure.

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Though it may feel like yet another summer is winding down into a low simmer of last-hurrahs and soon-t0-be-memories,

(NOTE: This week's episode was recorded before Bon Iver announced the digital release, three weeks ahead of schedule, of its lovely new album i,i.)

Heat Check

Aug 5, 2019

Back in January, Dreamville, one of rap's most formidable artist-run labels, invited a broad selection of hip-hop artists and creators to Atlanta to create the label's third compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers IIIand with Bas being one of Dreamville's most reliable wordsmiths, he was, naturally, part of that momentous camp.

A Los Angeles jury has ruled that Katy Perry's 2013 hit "Dark Horse" featuring Juicy J infringed on the 2008 rap song "Joyful Noise" by Christian rapper Flame featuring Lecrae and John Reilly. In a unanimous decision handed down on July 29, the jurors decided that the beat of Perry's smash hit improperly copied the beat of the Christian rap song, creating a perfect storm of copyright infringement.

Lil Nas X has officially broken the record for the longest-running No. 1 single on Billboard's Hot 100 list thanks to his breakout hit "Old Town Road." Billboard announced on July 29 that the genre-jumping song has topped the chart for 17 straight weeks. But what's the significance of such a feat?

Since his first glimmers of internet notoriety, Chance the Rapper has been hailed as the kind of wunderkind to turn the music industry on its head. From the nasal-toned phenom who made good use of a lengthy school suspension for his 2012 debut mixtape, 10 Day, to the savvy verse maestro who kept the emphasis on his friendships with 2013's Acid Rap and the 2015 collaborative album Surf, the most endearing quality about Chance is that he's always done things his own way and on his own time.

Spoon is back — with a greatest hits album. Leading off this week's New Music Friday, Everything Hits At Once is a band-curated alternative to algorithm-manufactured playlists, with a stellar new track ("No Bullets Spent') thrown in.

Nearly 40 years into their career, The Flaming Lips remain remarkably ageless and endlessly creative. They return this week with another heady, psychedelic pop record inspired by a surreal art installation by frontman Wayne Coyne. On this week's New Music Friday, we climb inside the band's kaleidoscopic new record, The King's Mouth.

On this episode of All Songs Considered we've got a conversation with GoldLink about his latest album, Diaspora. (Hear the full interview with the play button at the top of the page).

It's been eight years since Ed Sheeran released his 2011, career-launching EP, No. 5 Collaborations Project. Now his No. 6 Collaborations Project has arrived and it's a features-heavy flex that shows the singer can pretty much work with anyone, from the country rock of Chris Stapleton to Eminem, 50 Cent and Skrillex. We give a listen on this week's New Music Friday along with K.R.I.T. IZ HERE, Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T.'s followup to his 2010 mixtape K.R.I.T.

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