We've watched thousands of 2021 Tiny Desk Contest entries. Now, it's time to highlight our favorites as we get closer to picking a winner: Welcome to Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf!
Every Thursday through Aug. 26, one of our Tiny Desk Contest judges will join me to play the videos that knocked us out. You're going to see talent you've never seen. And we'll invite some of our favorites on the show to talk about their entries.
For this episode of Top Shelf this year, I invited Contest judge, rapper, singer and Tiny Desk alum Tobe Nwigwe to share this favorites. Tobe's Top Shelf selections include a rap song about working through trauma, a track called "Far from Shore" about finding belonging, a genre-bending ode to self care, a soulful jazz performance from New Orleans and a smooth R&B jam. Band members from Los Angeles band Xella, including vocalist Michelle Villegas, joined us to talk about the process of producing their creative entry, which was recorded in a hotel room.
New episodes of Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf are streamed live every Thursday at 3 p.m. ET on NPR Music's YouTube page. You can learn more about the series — and sign up to be reminded about future episodes — at topshelf2021.nprpresents.org.
1. Freakquencee, "Running"
2. Rotem Sivan, "Far from Shore"
3. Xella, "ON"
4. Quiana Lynell, "Tweedlee Dee"
5. Bird & Butterfly, "Monarch"