In his return to Tiny Desk Concerts, the newly rechristened and slimmed-down Shelley invites viewers into a softly-lit study for a simmering performance of songs from his upcoming album, Shelley FKA DRAM. Thanks to Tiny Desk’s “(At-Home)” designation, the Virginia native gets extra comfy, donning a set of food-patterned PJs that works just as well as an eye-popping suit, packing his band into the smaller confines, and delivering soulful renditions of songs like “Exposure,” “The Lay Down,” “Cooking With Grease,” and the debut of “Rich & Famous.”
The last time Shelley played Tiny Desk — way back in 2017 — he was promoting the lighthearted, melodic hip-hop debut album Big Baby DRAM. He makes note of the change during his return performance, reintroducing himself as Shelley — his government name — and calls the moment “a new beginning. Full circle.”
Shelley first showed glimpses of the shift in 2018 with his That’s A Girl’s Name EP, shifting to groovy but still swaggering R&B. Then, in 2019, he shared “The Lay Down” with HER (who’s now an Oscar and Grammy winner), presaging the new, grown-and-sexy direction he’s adopted for his next project, which releases April 29 in honor of his mom’s birthday.
Watch Shelley’s smooth NPR Tiny Desk return performance above.
Shelley is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.