Daniel Caesar performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 30, 2018. // NPR, Morgan Noelle Smith
It's hard to pick five out of the rich cannon of Tiny Desk concerts, but since you've asked...
- Daniel Caesar's falsetto is a gem, one that sparkles particularly well in tandem with female vocalists. So it's not surprising that the high point of an excellent 2018 performance is a duet with H.E.R. on the slow jam "Best Part."
- Michael Kiwanuka has a soul man's voice and a folk singer's vision. These two sides of the British performer are quite apparent on his poignant 2020 pandemic year appearance.
- Raphael Saadiq has done multiple Tiny Desk sets, but none present his deeply soulful songwriting and vocals better than this 2009 appearance in support of his superb The Way I See It album. Dressed suit and tie fly, playing acoustic guitar and backed by just another guitar, Saadiq graces the Tiny Desk with a set of retro-nuevo songs that honors the rich storytelling tradition of R&B.
- Been a fan of Tank and the Bangas since I saw them light up a Brooklyn club with their spirit and electric stage presence. Their 2017 Tiny Desk gig captures that magic.
- Anderson .Paak raps, sings, and does both while playing a trap drum set. He and his Free Nationals did a dynamic set in 2016 when .Paak was just emerging from the underground. —Nelson George, author, cultural critic and filmmaker.