1970s

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”

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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”

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Heat Rocks, EP 19: Bardo Martinez on Eugene McDaniels' "Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse" (1971)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Bardo Martinez

The album: Eugene McDaniels: Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse (1971)

When we approached Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman, we figured he'd go with a left-field album choice and he did not disappoint. Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse was a cult LPs for years, one of the most overtly political albums of the entire '70s (least of all on Atlantic Records!) and might have been wholly forgotten if not for '90s hip-hop producers rediscovering it and using it as sample fodder. However, all groovy groove aside, Headless Heroes is also an astonishing album in regards to McDaniels' explicit politics regarding everything from the U.S. treatment of Native Americans to blue eyed minstrels to Watergate. It was supposedly blacklisted by no less than the Vice President of the U.S. (Spiro Agnew). As Chicano Batman are no strangers to merging message and music, it was the perfect LP for Bardo and us to dig into, least of all in this current political moment.

More on Eugene McDaniels and Headless Heroes

More on Bardo Martinez and Chicano Batman

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Headless Heroes unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Jagger The Dagger”
  • Chicano Batman: “Freedom is Free” Freedom Is Free
  • “The Parasite”
  • “Supermarket Blues”
  • “Lovin Man”
  • John Lennon: “Instant Karma”
  • Gene McDaniels: “Tower of Strength” Tower of Strength
  • Eddie Harris & Les McCann: “Compared to What” Swiss Movement
  • Eugene McDaniels: “Cherrystones” Outlaw
  • “Susan Jane”
  • “Freedom Death Dance”
  • Eddie Harris: “Freedom Jazz Dance” The In Sound
  • “The Lord Is Back”

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Heat Rocks EP17: Vernon Reid on Jimi Hendrix's "Band of Gypsys" (1970)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Vernon Reid

The album: Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys (1970)

Vernon Reid is one of rock's greatest guitarists, having rising to stardom in the 1980s as a member of Living Colour. It's not surprising, therefore, that he'd choose an album by one of rock's other great guitarists: Jimi Hendrix and his final album, Band of Gypsys, recorded live at the Fillmore East and released in the spring of 1970. Reid gave us an amazing lesson into what exactly made Hendrix so brilliant, least of all on this album.

More on Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys

More on Vernon Reid

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Band of Gypsys unless indicated otherwise):

  • Message of Love
  • Jimi Hendrix on The Dick Cavett Show
  • Jimi Hendrix: Star Spangled Banner
  • Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced?
  • Machine Gun
  • Power to Love/Power of Soul
  • Who Knows
  • Them Changes
  • Living Colour: Power of Soul
  • Jimi Hendrix: Stop

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Heat Rocks EP16: Bahamadia on the Kay-Gee's "Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan" (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Bahamadia

The album: The Kay-Gee's: Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan (Gang, 1974)

 

We invited Philly hip-hop star Bahamadia to join us and she kept things tri-state by picking the 1974 debut album by New Jersey's The Kay-Gee's, originally an off-shoot of Kool and the Gang. The Kay-Gee's may not be household names in the same manner as Kool and the Gang or the Ohio Players but especially on this debut, they cooked up an impressively diverse and surprisingly eclectic set of tracks that defy simple expectation. What other band ends their album with their own "greatest hits montage"?

More on the Kay-Gee's Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan

More on Bahamadia

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Who’s the Man (With The Master Plan)”
  • Bahamadia: Kollage “Wordplay”
  • The Trammps: Disco Inferno “Disco Inferno”
  • MFSB: Love Is The Message“Love Is The Message”
  • James Brown: Getting’ Down To It“Cold Sweat”
  • Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band:Express Yourself “Express Yourself”
  • Parliament: Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome “Flashlight”
  • “Wondering”
  • “My Favorite Song”
  • The Floaters: Float On “Float On”
  • Cameo: We All Know Who We Are “Why Have I Lost You”
  • “Aint No Time (pt 1)”
  • You’ve Got To Keep on Bumpin”
  • “Who’s The Man (With The Master Plan)”
  • Madlib and J-Dilla: Champion Sound Jaylib (The Official)
  • Tom Browne: Funkin For Jamaica “Funkin for Jamaica”
  • “Get Down”
  • “Anthology”
  • Double Dee and Stein: Lesson 3“History of Hip-Hop Mix”
  • “Hustle with Every Muscle”

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Heat Rocks, EP 1: Joi on Betty Davis' "They Say I'm Different"

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Betty Davis/Joi
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Joi Gilliam

The album: Betty Davis: They Say I'm Different (Just Sunshine, 1974)

This was one the pilot episodes we recorded in the spring and when we left the taping, we turned to one another and knew this show had potential.

The pairing of artist and album came from Morgan and it was inspired: the undersung Betty Davis, one of the most original and fascinating figures of the 1970s, being feted by future soul artist and Dungeon Family-affiliate Joi, an artist very much cut from Betty's cloth but a generation later. We had a fantastic conversation about the importance and uniqueness of Betty and what she's meant, especially, to waves of Black women artists who've followed in her path in the 40+ years since.

On a personal note, this also meant a lot to Oliver because he's written three sets of liner notes on Betty Davis albums (including They Say I'm Different) and interviewed her extensively as part of that. He forever holds a torch for her.

More on Betty Davis:

More on Joi:

Tracklisting:

  • Betty Davis: They Say I'm Different
  • Joi: Freedom (Pendulum Vibe, 1994)
  • Betty Davis: Git In There
  • Brides of Funkenstein: Party Up In Here (12", 1979)
  • Vicki Anderson: Message From the Soul Sisters (7", 1974)
  • Betty Davis: 70s Blues
  • Betty Davis: Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him
  • Ice Cube: Once Upon a Time in the Projects (AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, 1990)
  • Betty Davis: He Was a Big Freak
  • Joi: If I'm In Luck, I Might Get Picked Up (Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome, 1996)
  • Betty Davis: Don't Call Her No Tramp
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