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Nelson George's 5 Favorite Tiny Desk Concerts

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.

  • Tiny Desks In This Playlist

    Daniel Caesar
    Michael Kiwanuka
    Raphael Saadiq
    Tank And The Bangas
    Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals

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