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Heat Check

Heat Check is the playlist for slow-burners, oddly satisfying cross-genre concoctions and the discoveries you almost want to keep for yourself.

You can stream this playlist viaSpotify.

As the most-consumed genres, the tendrils of rap and R&B have found their way into all popular music today. The current landscape of music is a garden of trap, soul, jazz, funk and global amalgamations. With such a beautiful, organic takeover, more artists than ever are throwing out the rules and creating music that thrives off being outliers. And because of that, there's always something new blooming that has the potential to catch on like wildfire in the future.

So what makes a song worthy of Heat Check? It's a slow-burner by a newcomer you've never heard of. It's a track bubbling just under the Billboard Hot 100 and that your friends will claim to have discovered three months before you and put on your radar (Sure.) It's a new collab you never saw coming — unless, of course, you've been paying attention to the artists' every move on Insta. It's an oddly satisfying cross-genre concoction. It's a discovery you almost want to keep to yourself. It's just something I was feeling at the time.

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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.