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The Best 2021 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Saw This Week: Volume 1

MikeyyAustin & The Soulcial Club entered the 2021 Tiny Desk Contest with the song "The Sunlight Song."
MikeyyAustin & The Soulcial Club entered the 2021 Tiny Desk Contest with the song "The Sunlight Song."

Throughout the next few weeks, we'll be sharing some of the many 2021 Tiny Desk Contest entries that have caught our eyes and ears. You can enter the Contest until 11:59 p.m. ET on June 7. If you think you've got what it takes, check out the Official Rules and fill out the eligibility checklist, then film your video and submit it here!

MikeyyAustin & The Soulcial Club, "The Sunlight Song"

Hometown: Lansing, Mich.
Pairs well with: A slow Saturday morning; a fresh start

MikeyyAustin & The Soulcial Club is spreading sunlight. With a persistent grin and a calm, confident delivery, MikeyyAustin raps of resilience and coming into his own. "God's watching from heaven / The devil's roaming earth / I see him in the bottle and I see him in a skirt / I see him in a cop car / I see him in the church / And the only time I'm feeling Godly is if I'm on the verse." As sunshine seemingly washes over him and the band in the entry's final two minutes, he leaves the "bulls*** mama taught [him] to discern" behind. —Elle Mannion

KICKK, " Doing Your Thing"

Hometown: Silver Spring, Md.
Pairs well with: A glass of Moscato and a blunt on a cool summer night after a long work day

Developing and sharpening a familiar but distinct fusion of hip-hop, R&B and funk for its sound, DMV-bred band KICKK is one to watch. Playing to each other effortlessly, every one of the band's members — Idryis Winfield as lead rapper, Cameron Luchie with a wicked guitar solo, Khalil Abdul-Wakeel on drums, KC Lewsey providing backing vocals and keys and Kai Friedenberg rounding out the sound as producer and bassist — shines without dimming the light of the member beside them. In the group's debut single, "Doing Your Thing," KICKK delivers wise lessons by alternating between razor-sharp bars and half-sung, half-spoken-word melodies. —LaTesha Harris

Allen LeRoy Hug, "Mercy"

Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Pairs well with: A long walk through a meadow

Allen LeRoy Hug is a collaboration between songwriters Tennessee Snow Cree Kamanski and Sarah "Cole" De La Isla, who began writing together during the COVID-19 pandemic. "Mercy" – a song the group says is about "reflection, ancestral reckoning and true love" – is a showcase of the duo's skill at interweaving both members' stunning voices and intricate guitar parts. —Marissa Lorusso

Los Wizzards, "Love Me"

Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Pairs well with: A block party; hyping yourself up

Contest rules require one desk per entry, but Los Wizzards went above and beyond: The video for "Love Me" boasts seven desks, each hosting a different band member sporting matching blazers and shiny gold sneakers. The bite-sized school desks can't constrain the Miami band's celebratory energy; the members' chemistry is undeniable as singer Roy G. tosses the mic to rapper Sammy Hawk who drops a verse in Spanish. The group demands your attention (and begs for your love) and looks like it's ready to shake things up from a slightly bigger Tiny Desk. —Elle Mannion

Wryn, "Patterns"

Hometown: Lompoc, Calif.
Pairs well with: Crying at the end of a great book; reading old diary entries

California songwriter Wryn says they wrote their 2021 entry song after a panic attack "and what felt like a very long winter," in a period of trying to untangle the patterns in which they felt trapped. Their entry video is simple – just their warm voice and acoustic guitar, plus some charming illustrations of a desk (of course) and animated waves, echoes and other shapes that mirror the song's lyrics. —Marissa Lorusso

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LaTesha Harris is NPR Music's editorial assistant. A relentless jack-of-all-trades, she takes turns writing, editing and producing music coverage. Invested in the culture behind pop, hip-hop and R&B, her work highlights the intersection between identity and history. Once in a blue moon, Harris moonlights as a talking head with no filter.
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