NPR Music’s Tiny Desk series will celebrate Black History Month by featuring four weeks of Tiny Desk (home) concerts and playlists by Black artists spanning different genres and generations each week. The lineup includes both emerging and established artists who will be performing a Tiny Desk concert for the first time. This celebration highlights the beautiful cornucopia of Black music and our special way of presenting it. We hope you enjoy.
Bobby Carter | February 18, 2021
“Tiny Desk! Happy Black History Month!,” rapper, singer and songwriter Rae Khalil exclaims before gliding into “FATHER,” from her LP Fortheworld. From the confines of Harun Coffee in the historic Leimert Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles comes one of the most exhilarating Tiny Desk home concerts I’ve ever seen. Khalil’s set is a colorful explosion of talent, perfectly complimenting the funky patchwork and textures of her attire.
She hit our radar and was featured on All Songs Considered last year, but gained national attention as a contestant on Netflix’s music competition show, Rhythm + Flow. As an emcee, she enunciates and bends her words unlike anyone in the game and if the bars don’t hook you, her expansive vocal range most certainly will. The Torrance, Calif., native’s musical theater background shines through here; she exudes an array of emotions in a span of minutes on tracks like “UP LATE” and “MARIA,” making it impossible to look away. The orchestration, courtesy of her band (whom she calls “The ill”), reflects the recorded sessions almost to a tee and features a special guest on bass and guitar: Tiny Desk alum Kelsey Gonzalez of The Free Nationals.
Sticking to the “inspiration” theme of our Black History Month celebration, she recites an excerpt from Langston Hughes’s “Let America Be America Again.” The 86-year-old words still read painfully relevant for many Black people in this country today.
Rae Khalil: vocals
Kelsey González: bass, guitar
Nico Vasquez: drums
Takoda Barraza: guitar
Dominick Cruz: bass, guitar
Audio: Arley Cervantes, Tom Kendall, Lucas Palmieri
Video: Riley Lattanza, Mike Bugaoan, Brianna Nakatani, Steve Grise
Production Manager: Nathan Rebolledo
Producers: Van Caraviello & SOS Production
Special Thanks: United Masters, Harun Coffee, Harun Intl.
TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Bobby Carter
Video Producer: Maia Stern
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Art Director: CJ Riculan
Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Kara Frame, Morgan Noelle Smith
Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann