Juvenile, Trombone Shorty, Jon Batiste, and Mannie Fresh perform at NPR's Tiny Desk.
Source: YouTube/@NPR

These Rappers Almost Broke the Internet With Their Viral Tiny Desk Performances

Tiny Desk concerts have become a unique way for fans to experience artists up-close and personal. Here are some of our favorite rap performances.


Jan. 5 2024, Published 5:04 p.m. ET

As the entertainment world continues to evolve, the platforms on which artists perform have also shifted with the times — especially in the rap game.

That's exactly how Tiny Desk became such a big deal, even more so during the pandemic. The platform, which was launched by NPR, in a stripped-down, features an acoustic setting that gives fans an intimate experience of their favorite musicians.

As we reflect on some of the most memorable moments from the Tiny Desk concert series, it's evident that rap, in its many forms, has found a home at NPR. Read on for some of the most memorable Tiny Desk rap performances.


Hip-hop is an art form that is known for powerful storytelling and Scarface has mastered that.

In his Tiny Desk performance, Scarface showcased his storytelling finesse in a way that was both compelling and captivating. Backed by a live band and a mic, the Houston native gave fans raw lyricism and gusto for thirty minutes and it was both memorable and impressive.

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juvenile npr tiny desk
Source: Prince Williams/WireImage

Juvenile and Mannie Fresh attend BET Hip Hop Awards at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center

For its Black History Month segment, NPR invited Juvenile to perform and he did not hold back during his Tiny Desk performance.

The New Orleans rapper went all out for his performance and tapped an entourage of esteemed talent to back him vocally and acoustically. an impressive lineup of talent — including Mannie Fresh, Trombone Shorty, Alvin Ford, Jon Batiste, and The Amours — performed too.

The Roots

The iconic band The Roots is celebrated for their genre-defying sound, dynamic live performances, and an unwavering commitment to musical innovation and quality above everything. The group brought all of that energy and more to their Tiny Desk performance.

The presentation was a sonic labyrinth of top-notch instrumentals, vivid lyricism, and stage charisma.

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Mac Miller and Thundercat

mac miller
Source: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

MAC Miller performs during Behind The Scenes With MAC Miller Filming Music Choice's "Take Back Your Music" Campaign at Music Choice on July 17, 2013 in New York City.

Mac Miller's Tiny Desk concert featuring Thundercat showcased the late artist's evolution.

The duo delivered an energetic performance that showcased their artistic connection and individual brilliance. Since its release, the video has garnered 111 million views on YouTube to date.

Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals

Many people know Anderson .Paak from his collaborations with supergroup Silk Sonic, but he is also a force to be reckoned with as a solo artist.

During his performance, the "Leave the Door Open" artist showcased his versatility. He was able to juggle different music forms including singing, rapping, and drumming, showcasing his diverse skill set to the music platform.

While this was not purely a hip-hop performance, it was definitely one for the books.

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