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Heat Check: Friends Of Friends Of Friends

Sudan Archives' "Confessions" is included in this week's Heat Check.
Alex Black
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Courtesy of the artist
Sudan Archives' "Confessions" is included in this week's Heat Check.

Listen to this playlist via Spotify.

If you don't have bomb music exploration taste, we likely won't be friends. I'm not talking top level, skimming-genre-surfaces, casual fan of a Jay-Z deep cut, plays-the-radio-on-roadtrips taste. Hell no. I'm talking liner notes reading, sub-genre wormhole-diving, flea market crate-digging, taking the train uptown to the shadiest part of the borough which shan't be named to see the obscure South London act make their U.S. debut taste.

I've been lucky enough to cultivate a community of friends who are as music-obsessed as I am, who constantly search and put me on to the hottest, grimiest, funkiest new artists. Hopefully you've got a few of those friends in your tribe, too, but if not, enjoy this week's selects from my friends whose music taste I trust with my life (or at the very least, with Heat Check's life).


Sudan Archives, "Confessions"

My coworker, Lars — may know him as the eclectic, awe-inspiring curator of Vikings Choice — put me on to Sudan Archives about a year ago. Her wild, worldly sound on the 2018 EP Sink defies genre and "Confessions," the lead single off her upcoming full-length reinforces that intrigue.


RIMON, "dust"

One of my best friends, Jessica, played RIMON on a road trip through Costa Rica last year and something about the eloquent angst of her voice just hooked me right away.


Burna Boy, "Show & Tell (feat. Future)"

A homie from college is Afro-fusion-obsessed. He's even traveled to the Motherland twice in search of the culture. He told me years ago that Burna Boy would be the biggest star out of Nigeria. He would eclipse all his competitors and take his sound worldwide. "Just give it a few years," he said. You know what? He was right.


Shay Lia, "Blue (feat. Kaytranada and BADBADNOTGOOD)"

OK, I can't quite remember who turned me onto the smoky, disarming delivery of Shay Lia, but it was someone who knows I'm a fan of Kaytranada and BADBADNOTGOOD production. Either way, good looks.


EARTHGANG, "UP"

An old colleague and I share a penchant for wacky, spastic, power-surging rappers. He got me hip to EARTHGANG years before they joined J. Cole's Dreamville label. But now with that extra boost, the duo is firing at all cylinders.


Kyle Dion, "Hands to Yourself"

Keylah, a friend and former college roommate, is constantly winning aux cord wars and is always ride or die when it comes to trekking hours away for a good underground show. Kyle Dion is just one of her many, many good recommendations.


Sho Madjozi, "Huku"

Sho Madjozi is a very recent discovery for me thanks to a new friend, Melanie. The foot-stompin' rhythms matched with Sho's impeccable South African flow make for one of my newest fixations.


Black Party, "Smoke Break II"

Black Party got put on my radar thanks to a confluence of events. First, one of my best friends in the music industry said he was intrigued by the Little Rock, Ark. enigma. Then, I heard his music weaved into the narrative of HBO's Insecure (and, of course, Issa and Molly are the best friends in my head). Finally, a few months back, I was passionately pitched him in a bar by my homegirl who said "I wasn't listening to R&B" if I wasn't up on him. I get it, y'all. I'm listening.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sidney Madden is a reporter and editor for NPR Music. As someone who always gravitated towards the artforms of music, prose and dance to communicate, Madden entered the world of music journalism as a means to authentically marry her passions and platform marginalized voices who do the same.
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