J. Cole, onstage in Oakland this summer, refracted hip-hop through an absurdist lens on KOD.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
December 23, 2018 Our list of the year's best hip-hop is an encapsulation of a year awash in trolls and tabloid fodder, grief and grit and escapist fantasy, and also an attempt to extract meaning from the chaos.
The songs on Nao's Saturn, one of NPR Music's favorite R&B projects of 2018, matched the London-based singer's distinctive tone.
Alex Colombino/Courtesy of the artist
December 22, 2018 These are NPR Music's picks for the top 10 R&B projects — not restricted by gender — that are leading the vanguard. Remember their names and watch the throne.
H.E.R. performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 8, 2018.
December 12, 2018 The singer stuns in her second appearance at the Tiny Desk, showcasing not only her vocal mastery, but her skills as a captivating multi-instrumentalist.
An illustration of Mac Miller, drawn during his Tiny Desk Concert performance in Aug. 2018.
September 11, 2018 The 26-year-old, who died Sept. 7, will not be remembered as a drug-addled entertainer, but as an ever-evolving maker of music who supported those coming up behind him.
Mac Miller performs a Tiny Desk Concert on August 1, 2018.
August 6, 2018 Mac Miller reflects on his journey's peaks and valleys in a boisterous set of songs from Swimming, featuring special guest Thundercat on "What's the Use?"
Daniel Caesar performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 30, 2018.
Morgan Noelle Smith/NPR
June 4, 2018 Watch the R&B star-in-the-making perform three songs, including a guest appearance by H.E.R.
Tom Misch performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 4, 2018.
June 1, 2018 This 22-year-old Brit has soul for days.
We get Gabriel Garzón-Montano's "Golden Wings" just as springtime begins to fully reveal itself to us.
Lissy Elle Laricchia/Courtesy of the artist
April 27, 2018 After an impressive debut album with 2017's Jardín, the R&B and funk aficionado returns with new sounds.
The Crossrhodes performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 1, 2017 (Jenna Sterner/NPR).
February 9, 2018 The Crossrhodes showed up to the Tiny Desk with game faces on, bringing with it a locally cultivated, globally appreciated energy.
Robert Glasper, Common and Karriem Riggins will release their debut album as August Greene this March.
B+/Courtesy of the artist
January 18, 2018 Common, Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper form August Greene and share its first single as a trio.
December 28, 2017 From PJ Morton to Moonchild, these projects didn't get enough shine this year but were exceptional nonetheless.
December 18, 2017 This is not your mom and pop's rhythm and blues. Artists pushed the boundaries, story lines and expectations of R&B more than ever in 2017.
Wyclef Jean performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 11, 2017. (Christina Ascani/NPR)
November 6, 2017 The hip-hop statesman walked through our doors greeting and charming anyone within arm's reach. Once in front of an audience, he was in attack mode, including a unique rendition of his signature hit.
Thundercat performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 29, 2017. (Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR)
October 18, 2017 Thundercat is willing and able to shape-shift to fit into just about any box you show him, but he won't stay in there for long.