Heat Rocks

Hosted by Oliver Wang and Morgan Rhodes, every episode of Heat Rocks invites a special guest to talk about a heat rock - a hot album, a scorching record. These are in-depth conversations about the albums that shape our lives.

Our guests include musicians, writers, and scholars and though we don't exclusively focus on any one genre, expect to hear about albums from the worlds of soul, hip-hop, funk, jazz, Latin and more.

New episodes every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts or whatever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe to our website updates for exclusive bonus content (including extra interview segments, mini-episodes, etc.)

Meanwhile, you can also follow us at any of the following:

EP30: Egyptian Lover on Cameo's "Cameosis" (1980)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Egyptian Lover

The album: Cameo: Cameosis (1980)

Egyptian Lover is one of the pivotal figures in shaping the sound of Los Angeles funk and hip-hop beginning in the 1980s. As a teen, he became a core member of the all-powerful Uncle Jamm's Army party crew and by the mid-80s, he was an artist in his own right, releasing a series of key electro albums that would help pave the way for the emergence of other L.A. groups like the Dream Team and N.W.A.

For our episode, Egyptian Lover wanted to take us back to the formative moment before all that had happened, when he was still in high school, hustling pause tapes of the latest funk jams to his classmates. Cameo's Cameosis was the group's fourth album in three years, the first to finally hit #1 on the charts, and the source of the monster hit, "Shake Your Pants."

During our discussion, we got into everything from the genius of Cameo's Larry Blackmon to what made the group different from other funk outfits (hint: the horns) to how one properly programs a slow jam within a mix of party funk songs.

More on Cameosis

More on Egyptian Lover

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Cameosis unless indicated otherwise):

  • "Cameosis"
  • Egyptian Lover: On the Nile "Egypt, Egypt"
  • "Why Have I Lost You"
  • Rick James: Come Get It! "Mary Jane"
  • "Shake Your Pants"
  • "We're Goin' Out Tonight"
  • Diana Ross: Diana "Upside Down"
  • George Benson: Give Me the Night "Give Me the Night"
  • Zapp & Roger: Zapp "More Bounce to the Ounce"
  • One Way: Who's Foolin' Who "Cutie Pie"
  • Cameo: Secret Omen "I Just Want to Be"
  • "Shake Your Pants"
  • Cameo: Secret Omen "I Just Want to Be"
  • "On the One"
  • Parliament: Mothership Connection "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)"
  • "Why Have I Lost You"
  • "I Care for You"
  • The Sugarhill Gang: Sugarhill Gang "Rapper's Delight"
  • Cameo: Word Up! "Word Up"
  • "Please You"
  • Egyptian Lover: Back from the Tomb "I Need a Freak"

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP29: Nite Jewel on Kraftwerk's "Computer World" (1981)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Nite Jewel

The album: Kraftwerk: Computer World (1981)

When we invited L.A.'s own Nite Jewel to join us, it probably shouldn't have been a surprise that she picked Kraftwerk's Computer World; after all, she's toured the world performing the albumIn sitting down with us, NJ (aka Ramona Gonzalez) broke down how she first became obsessed with the album, walking the streets of Berkeley, thinking about German philosophy (no, really!) and why the LP is such a masterpiece of fusing a variety of musical elements all colliding in the early 1980s.

More on Computer World

More on Nite Jewel

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Computer World unless indicated otherwise):

  • ”Computer Love”
  • Nite Jewel: Real High “2 Good 2 Be True”
  • Roger Troutman: The New Zapp IV U “Computer Love”
  • ”The Dance”
  • Derrick May: “The Dance”
  • Moodyman: Forevernevermore “(logo)”
  • The Egyptian Lover: Electro Pharaoh “Electro Pharaoh“
  • 20 Fingers: 20 Fingers “Short Dick Man”
  • Afro-Rican: “Give It All You Got”
  • ”It’s More Fun To Compute”
  • ”Numbers”
  • ”Artificial Intelligence”
  • ”Home Computer”
  • ”Pocket Calculator”

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP28: Brother Ali on Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Brother Ali

The album: Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

As part of the two week MaxFun Drive, we wanted to save two of our best shows to share with you. This first week, it's rapper Brother Ali, a long time MaxFun favorite, and he picked one of the greatest albums of all time: Stevie Wonder's majestic Songs in the Key of Life, recorded when the artist was still in his 20s(!).
Brother Ali, of course, has his own string of modern classics, including Shadows on the Sun (2003), The Undisputed Truth (2007) and most recently, last year's All the Beauty In This Whole Life. In choosing Stevie's masterpiece, Brother Ali took us back to his childhood, growing up with listening to Stevie in the house, and then later, as a teenager, buying Stevie albums to bring home and study. During our conversation with him, we got into the musical, social and cultural threads that Songs In the Key of Life  has helped unwind over the years.
More on Songs In the Key of Life

More on Brother Ali

Show Tracklist (all songs fromSongs in the Key of Life unless indicated otherwise):

  • ”Isn’t She Lovely”
  • Brother Ali: All The Beauty In This Whole Life “Own Light (What Hearts are For)”
  • ”Summer Soft”
  • ”I Wish”
  • ”Black Man”
  • ”Pastime Paradise”
  • ”Village Ghettholand”
  • ”Love Is In Need of Love Today”
  • ”Sir Duke”
  • ”Knocks Me Off My Feet”
  • ”Saturn”
  • ”Another Star”
  • ”As”
  • George Michael:  Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael “As Feat Mary J. Blidge”
  • Coolio: Gangsta’s Paradise “Dangerous Minds”
  • Jay-Z: 4:44 “Smile”
  • ”Isn’t She Lovely”

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP27: P.J. Morton on Brandy's "Full Moon"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
P.J. Morton

The album: Brandy's Full Moon (2002)

Grammy winning singer/songwriter and producer PJ Morton knows production. A keyboardist and vocalist for Maroon 5, PJ Morton also knows lyrics. And vocals. PJ Morton joined us to share what he knows about Brandy's 2002 Full Moon and why it is for him, a certifiable heat rock.

We talked about the brilliance of producer Rodney Jerkins and what he created on this project, Brandy's prodigious talent as a child actress and singer, the evolution of her voice over time and the respect she rightfully deserves and has earned as a premiere vocalist.
PJ Morton, knows a good album when he hears one.  Check out this week's episode to find out more and also check out Gumbo Unplugged, his latest album.

More on Full Moon

More on P.J. Morton

Show Tracklist (all songs from Full Moon unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Full Moon”
  • PJ Morton: Emotions “How We Were (Remix)”
  • PJ Morton: Gumbo “Religion”
  • Ashanti: Ashanti “Foolish”
  • Truth Hurts: Truthfully Speaking “Addictive”
  • Usher: 8701 “U Don’t Have To Call”
  • Glenn Lewis: World Outside My Window “Don’t You Forget It”
  • Amerie: All I Have “Why Don’t We Fall In Love”
  • Kim Burrell: Everlasting Life “I’ll Keep Holding On”
  • Brandy: Brandy “Brokenhearted”
  • Brandy: Never Say Never “Top of the World Feat. Mase”
  • “It’s Not Worth It”
  • “What About Us”
  • Aaliyah: One In A Million “One In A Million”
  • “He Is”
  • “When You Touch Me”
  • “What About Us”
  • “Die Without You Feat. Ray-J”
  • PM Dawn: Boomerang “Die Without You”
  • “It’s Not Worth It”
  • “Full Moon”
  • “Like This”
  • SWV: It’s About Time “It’s About Time”

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP26: Jack Davey on Digable Planets' "Reachin'"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jack Davey

The album: Digable Planets: Reachin' (1993)

Miss Jack Davey's contribution to LA's alternative soul scene began over a decade ago with her work as one half of the group J*Davey. Their debut project, "The Beauty In Distortion" a mix of punk, funk, synth and soul, was a must have for tastemakers and made a splash both in Los Angeles and around the world. When she's not writing songs and producing, she can be found at a myriad of cool spots around the city, spreading the good news of good music as a DJ and selector.
Davey wanted to get into Digable Planets' debut album, now celebrating its 25th anniversaryReachin' (a new refutation of time and space). Coming out at the height of hip-hop's love affair with jazz, Reachin' has been lauded as "an album about freedom—from convention, from oppression, from the limits imposed by the space-time continuum."
We had a chance to talk with Davey about Digable Planets' "Rebirth of Slick" and its cool factor, Brooklyn and its relationship to the album, Ladybug Mecca's butter voice, and what's it's like to be cool and not know it.

More on Reachin'

More on Jack Davey and J*Davey

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Reachin' unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Rebirth of Slick”
  • Georgia Anne Muldrow: Olesi: Fragments of an Earth “Wrong Way”
  • Sy Smith: The Syberspace Social “Aquarius Rising”
  • Sa-Ra: The Hollywood Recordings “Glorious”
  • Flying Lotus: Los Angeles “Roberta Flack (Feat Dolly)”
  • Dam-Funk: Toeachizown “Searching 4 Funk’s Future”
  • J*Davey: The Beauty in Distortion / The Land of the Lost “No More”
  • “La Femme Fetal”
  • Guru: Jazzmatazz “Loungin’”
  • Young Deciples: Road To Freedom “As We Come (To Be)”
  • “Jimmi Diggin Cats”
  • Digable Planets: Blowout Comb “Graffiti”
  • “Where I’m From”
  • Fugees: The Score “Fu-Gee-La”
  • UTD: Manifest Destiny “Manifest Destiny”
  • “What Cool Breezes Do”
  • “Last of the Spiddyocks”
  • “Swoon Units”
  • “Escapism (Getting Free)”
  • “Nickel Bags”
  • E-40: My Ghetto Report Card “Yay Area”
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP25: Denaun "Mr." Porter on A Tribe Called Quest's "Low End Theory" (1991)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Denaun Porter

The album: A Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory (1991)

Producer/MC Denaun Porter aka Mr. Porter has been in the hip-hop scene for over two decades. He has some impressive credits under his belt, producing songs that combined have sold almost 100 million records. He has worked with some of the industries top-talent including Eminem, 50 Cent, SnoopDog, Shakira, Bad Meets Evil, and many more. He is also one of the founding members of the chart-topping Detroit hip-hop group D12. It was none other than ATCQ's "Bonita Applebaum" that inspired Mr. Porter to get into hip-hop and not surprisingly, when we invited him to the show, he wanted to talk about one of the all-time great hip-hop albums: ATCQ's sophomore effort, Low End Theory. 

During our convo, we discussed the production techniques and sample choices, how good the album's sequencing was, and why Q-Tip and the late Phife Dawg went together like peanut butter and jelly. We also got into the fight-provoking question of: Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders?

More on A Tribe Called Quest and Low End Theory

More on Denaun Porter

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Low End Theory unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Scenario”
  • “Denaun Porter: Porter Shops Glasper “jUsT 4 dA hAwAiI eVeNiNg
  • “D12: Devil’s Night: “Purple Hills”
  • “Excursions”
  • “Cannonball Adderley: The Black Messiah “The Steam Drill”
  • “Jackie Jackson: Jackie Jackson “Is it Him or Me”
  • “Queen Latifah: Nature of a Sister “Latifah’s Had It Up to Here”
  • “MC Lyte: Act Like You Know “Act Like You Know”
  • “Skypager”
  • “Check The Rhime”
  • “The Infamous Date Rape”
  • “What?”
  • “Jazz (We’ve Got This)”
  • ““Buggin Out”
  • “Migos: Culture II “Motorsport Feat. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj”
    “Butter”
  • “Weather Report: Mr. Gone “Young and Fine”
  • “A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders “Lyrics to Go”
  • “Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Buhaina“A Chant for Bu”
  • “Everything is Fair”
  • If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

    EP24: Brian "B+" Cross on Freestyle Fellowship's "To Whom It May Concern" (1991)

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    Show: 
    Heat Rocks
    Guests: 
    Brian Cross

    The album: Freestyle Fellowship: To Whom It May Concern (1991)

    Brian Cross, better known to most as B+, is one of the most important photographers of the hip-hop generation to ever emerge out of the West Coast. A transplant from Ireland to California, Cross began documenting the L.A. rap community throughout the late '80s and early '90s, producing one of the great books about the region's hip-hop scene, It's Not About a Salary. He's also a founding partner of the music/events organization Mochilla. Just this year, Cross finally published his first book reflecting on his career in photography, Ghost Notes: Music of the Unplayed. For his episode with Heat Rocks, Cross took us back to 1991 and the release of To Whom It May Concern, one of the greatest West Coast hip-hop albums of all time...and one that most people never got to hear back in the day because of its limited distribution at the time. Better late than never; don't keep sleeping.

    More on Freestyle Fellowship and To Whom It May Concern

    More on Brian "B+" Cross

    Show Tracklisting (all songs from To Whom It May Concern unless indicated otherwise):

    • ”Here I Am”
    • Cypress Hill: Cypress Hill “How I could Just Kill A Man”
    • AMG: Bitch Betta Have My Money “Bitch Betta Have My Money”
    • ”Good Life”
    • ”7th Seal”
    • ”120 Seconds”
    • ”Jupiter’s Journey”
    • ”For No Reason”
    • ”We Are The Freestyle Fellowship”
    • ”Sunshine Men”
    • ”Dedications”
    • Ornette Coleman: This Is Our Music “Humpty Dumpty”
    • ”5 o’Clock Follies”
    • Gang Starr: No More Mr. Nice Guy ”Manifest”
    • Jon Hendricks: Freddie Freeloader “Freddie Freeloader”
    • ”Convolutions”
    • ”7th Seal”
    • ”Legal Alien”
    • ”We Will Not Tolerate”

    If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

    EP23: DJ Monalisa on D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar" (1995)

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    Show: 
    Heat Rocks
    Guests: 
    Monalisa

    The album: D'Angelo: Brown Sugar (1995)

    DJ Monalisa Murray is an O.G. on the L.A. scene, having made the transition from working in marketing and promotion for record labels to working for herself as one of the Southland's premier selectors, down with everyone from Umoja Hi-Fi Soundsystem, to Footlong Development, to the KPL All-Stars. For her album choice, she wanted to spin us back to the emergence of D'Angelo and his debut album, Brown Sugar. We talked about how D'Angelo struck a different note than R&B in that era, how his style played to and against hip-hop, and just what exactly "brown sugar" refers to. Spicy. 

    More on D'Angelo and Brown Sugar

    More on DJ Monalisa

    Show Tracklisting (all songs from Brown Sugar unless indicated otherwise):

    • “Brown Sugar”
    • “Jonez In My Bones”
    • Billy Preston: Music is my Life “Will it Go Round in Circles”
    • ”Cruisin
    • D’Angelo: Voodoo “Feel Like Making Love”
    • ”Me And Those Dreaming Eyes of Mine”
    • J Dilla: A.K.A. J. Yancey “Me And Those Dreaming Eyes of Mine [Remix]”
    • ”Shit, Damn, Motherfucker”
    • ”When We Get By”
    • ”Alright”
    • Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers “Brown Sugar”
    • D’Angelo: “She’s Always In My Hair”
    • D’Angelo: Black Messiah “Really Love”

    If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

    Live Taping of Heat Rocks as part of The Voyager Institute - FREE!

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    Date: 
    03/03/2018 - 16:00 - 18:00
    Show: 
    City: 
    Los Angeles, CA
    Venue Name: 
    Resident

    428 S Hewitt St
    Los Angeles, California 90013

    Heat Rocks will be doing a live show as part of The Voyager Institute: a lecture series on movies and music. FREE-ADMISSION, RSVP here.

    The show includes:

    A live taping of Heat Rocks on the topic of Michael Jackson's HIStory, featuring special guest Justin Simien of "Dear White People.

    The Search For "The Weirdest Band In The World" (presented by Andy Hermann and Rico Gagliano).

    The Maysles Brothers' TV Commercials (presented by Sean Savage, Academy Film Archive)

    EP22: Ishmael Butler on Lightnin' Rod's "Hustlers Convention" (1973)

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    Show: 
    Heat Rocks
    Guests: 
    Ishmael Butler

    The album: Lightnin' Rod: Hustlers Convention (1973)

    Ishmael Butler aka Butterfly of Digable Planets aka one-half of Shabazz Palaces joined us to take us on a trip back to the blaxploitation era and one of the greatest soundtracks-in-search-of-a-movie: Hustlers Convention, the spoken word/funk album by Jalal Nuriddin of The Last Poets. Backed up musicians that included Kool and the Gang, Eric Gale and others, Hustlers Convention took listeners on a trip into the world of pimps, players, police and other street characters in a vivid, cinematic story that would go onto inspire rappers the world over.

    More on Lightnin' Rod and Hustlers Convention

    More on Ishmael Butler

    Show Tracklisting (all songs from Hustler's Conventionunless indicated otherwise):

    • ”Sport”
    • Digable Planets: Reaching’”The Rebirth of Slick”
    • Curtis Mayfield: Superfly “Superfly”
    • ”Hamhock’s Hall Wa Big”
    • ”Spoon”
    • ”The Shit Hits The Fan Again”
    • ”The Break Was So Loud It Hushed The Crowd”
    • ”Sentenced To The Chair”
    • ”Brother Hominy Grit”
    • Shabazz Palace: Lese Majesty “Forerunner Foray”
    • Dr. Dre: Deep Cover “Deep Cover Feat. Snoop Dogg”
    • Raekwon: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”Heaven & Hell”

    If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!