From Mac Miller to Camp Cope: The best NPR Tiny Desk Concerts
NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series is the internets best live performance show. From the biggest to the most exciting up and coming artists, the video series has now over 100 performances across 12 years. It’s a space that artists have utilised to show off stripped down, intimate performances of their recently released projects, creating an even playing field and common ground for artists of all sonic backgrounds and locations.
It is almost certain we’ve all spent copious hours digging through the Tiny Desk Concert playlist, with each our own personal favourites. We’ve narrowed down our favourite 10 from a range of artists from Young Thug, Tyler, The Creator and Mac Miller to Camp Cope and Stella Donnelly. Did your favourite make the cut? Let us know.
YOUNG THUG (2021)
Just last night, Young Thug offered up an incredible rendition of his original music, performing a rock infused Tiny Desk Concert. Performing a range of new songs, ‘Die Slow’, ‘Droppin Jewels’, ‘Hate The Game’, ‘Tick Tock’ and ‘Ski’ where Travis Barker joined the band. The tracks are a tease of Thugga’s forthcoming record, ‘Punk’ rumoured to release on October the 15th.
Before his tour of Australia, Saba hit the NPR office with a band consisting of the same musicians which created his 2018, widely acclaimed project, ‘Care For Me’. On the record, Saba transforms his survivor’s guilt into a rap project that was fully immersive. The Chicago native brought the project’s ethos to life, fusing his poetic bars perfectly with live jazz elements.
In 2017, one of the worlds most underrated poets and lyricists Noname performed 3 singles from her genius mixtape, ‘Telefone’. With it she delivered tales of joy and pain from her upbringing and experiences in the South Side of Chicago. She performs ‘Diddy Bop’, ‘Yesterday’, and a medley featuring ‘Reality Check’ ‘Casket Pretty’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby’. She performs the songs without missing a line or bar, presenting them with her infectious smile.
CAMP COPE (2018)
Off the back of their incredible sophomore record, ‘How to Socialise & Make Friends’, Camp Cope performed in the NPR office. In the performance they turned down the volume, without losing any of their signature impact or style. Georgia Maq’s vocals are given just enough space to explode above the three piece band, performing ‘The Opener’, ‘The Face of God’ and ‘Keep Growing’.
STELLA DONNELLY (2019)
Stella Donnelly stunned the Tiny Desk Concert “arena” with a performance of three songs off her then forthcoming debut album, ‘Beware of the Dogs’. The performance offered an intimate version of the tracks, performing with merely an electric guitar. She won over the hearts of NPR’s audience, with her bold and stunning lyricism and of course her incredible vocal performance.
MAC MILLER (2018)
Just under a month before his passing, NPR released Mac Miller’s Tiny Desk Concert. Performing songs for the first time off his record, ‘Swimming’, he stood on a stool and performed his tracks with humility and grace. Thundercat hopped on the bass for ‘What’s The Use’ and a string trio joined for his performance of “2009”. It’s a heartbreaking watch for fans of the artist, but a stunning performance nonetheless.
HARRY STYLES (2020)
International hearthrob Harry Styles performed a medley of tracks from his sophomore album, ‘Fine Line’, including ‘Fine Line’, ‘Cherry’, ‘Watermelon Sugar’, ‘To Be So Lonely’ and ‘Adore You’. From the biggest stages in the world to an office space, the music translated perfectly in the intimate setting, proving Harry Styles songwriting as more than just a cheesy fad.
TYLER, THE CREATOR (2017)
Tyler, The Creator hit the Tiny Desk Concert office with a range of stripped back spacey renditions of fan favourites from his 2017 record, ‘Flower Boy’. Performing with a band for the first time, Tyler wizzed through ‘Boredom’, ‘See You Again’ and ‘Glitter’. It’s one of the most fun and laid back performances on the program, with Tyler interacting with the audience and his band naturally, even featuring some improvised moments too.
DUA LIPA (2020)
This list would not be complete without our queen Dua Lipa. Tiny Desk Concerts are always so special for their ability to showcase some of the biggest stars in the world in a human light and this setting compliments Dua Lipa’s personality and performance style perfectly. The ensemble performed tracks from ‘Future Nostalgia’, including, ‘Levitating’, ‘Pretty Please’, ‘Love Again’ and ‘Don’t Start Now’.
FREDDIE GIBBS AND MADLIB (2019)
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib took their 2019 collaborative record, ‘Bandana’ to the NPR office, performing four songs off the album, ‘Education’, ‘Gat Damn’, ‘Soul Right’ and ‘Freestyle Shit’. Madlib’s production came to life with the live band, showcasing his incredible musical abilities as he laid down additional percussion. Similarly, Freddie Gibbs rapped with high tier swag and personality, spitting his bars smoothly over the jazz instrumentation.
Words by PARRY TRITSINIOTIS