1990s

EP58, Women Behaving Badly #5: Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Joan Morgan

The Album: Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
On August 25, 1998, Lauryn Hill, the breakout rapping/singing star from The Fugees released her first (and only) solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. On August 25, 2018, exactly 20 years later, the Heat Rocks crew invited author Joan Morgan to join us to talk about that album and her new book about that album, She Begat ThisCall it a happy coincidence, call it kismet but either way, call it an amazing conversation. 
It's difficult to overstate the singular importance of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This was a generation before artists like Drake made singing + rapping into a popular form; Lauryn was wading into unknown waters when she put this together. As we discuss, her own label had to be pushed to even put the album out but once they did, it became an instant smash: multi-platinum sales, the first "Best Album" Grammy award for a hip-hop album, and it elevated, for better or for worse, Lauryn - still in her early 20s - to becoming one of hip-hop and R&B's most important figures. Of course, in the years since, controversy has dogged her, especially regarding her live shows and two decades later, her legacy is a complicated one, as we get into. Joan Morgan would have been an ideal guest even if she hadn't written a book about the album; her bonafides as one of the great cultural critics to emerge in the 1990s were already well-established, least of all in her 1999 collection of essays, When Chickenheads Come Home to RoostJoan's based in New York, finishing up a PhD at NYU, but she happened to be in town on that fateful 20th anniversary day to come chat with us.
More on Joan Morgan

More on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
 unless indicated otherwise):
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EP49: serpentwithfeet on Björk's "Homogenic" (1997)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
serpentwithfeet

The Album: Björk: Homegenic (1997)

Josiah Wise aka serpentwithfeet joined us to talk about one of his biggest influences: Björk and 1997 album, Homogenic. First introduced to her as a child, serpentwithfeet found a kindred spirit in the eclectic creativity of the Icelandic star. That especially extends to Homogenic, which, thanks to Björk and producer Mark Bell, would mark a hard turn from the more pop-friendly sounds of Post towards a new, baroque, electronic majesty. Our conversation touched on the mesmerizing nuances of Björk's voice, the album's heavy embrace of dance music, and what it's like to be a fan of an artist when you don't even know what they look like.

More on serpentwithfeet

More on Homegenic

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

  • All is Full of Love
  • Björk: Bænin
  • All Neon Like
  • Björk: Human Behaviour
  • Joga
  • serpentwithfeet: blisters
  • Unravel
  • serpentwithfeet: whisper
  • All is Full of Love
  • Björk: Hidden Place
  • Hunter
  • Immature
  • Bells Atlas: Bachelorette
  • Unravel
  • Erykah Badu: On & On
  • Radiohead: Exit Music (For a Film)
  • Janet Jackson: Got Til it's Gone
  • Missy Elliott: The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)
  • Roni Size: New Forms
  • Unravel
  • Björk: Pagan Poetry
  • serpentwithfeet: blisters
  • serpentwithfeet: bless ur heart

Here's the Spotify plalist of as many songs as we could find on there
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP48: Tiffany Gouché on Destiny's Child's "The Writing's On the Wall" (1999)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Tiffany Gouché

The Album: Destiny's Child: The Writing's on The Wall (1999)

She sings about love and about longing. Hometown heroine and triple threat (singer/songwriter/producer) Tiffany Gouché (Inglewood, CA) sang her way into our playlists with silky smooth vocals and a production style that reminds us of R&B’s glory days in the 90s, mixed with the eclectic futuristic sound LA music has come to be known for.

She was, therefore, the perfect person to talk Destiny’s child platinum smash heatrock “The Writing’s On The Wall”.

We revisited an album that was full of anthems, an album that Tiffany experienced on cassette tape! Tiffany spoke to us about the layers of inspiration she got from this album as well as what made “Writing’s On The Wall” classic 90s R&B.

More on Tiffany Gouche

More on The Writing's on the Wall

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Writing's on the Wall unless indicated otherwise):

  • Say My Name
  • Bug A Boo
  • Tiffany Gouché: Dive
  • Commisioned and Fred Hammond: So Good to Know (The Savior)
  • Kim Burrell: Holy Ghost
  • Outro (Amazing Grace Dedicated to Andretta Tillman) 
  • Bills, Bills, Bills
  • Hey Ladies
  • Jumpin, Jumpin 
  • Beyonce: Love Drought 
  • Say My Name
  • Bills, Bills, Bills 
  • Usher: I Don't Know 
  • P!nk: There You Go
  • Confessions (feat. Missy Elliott)
  • Now That She's Gone
  • Bug A Boo
  • If You Leave (feat. Next)
  • Aretha Franklin: At Last - Let Me In Your Life Outtake
  • Aretha Franklin: Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I) 

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EP47: Summer Spectacular feat. Quetzal

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Quetzal

The Albums: 

We wanted to dedicate an episode to talking about the music of summer, easily the one season that people have the deepest sonic associations with. To that aim, we invited the two founding members of L.A.'s Quetzal, Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores. Since 1992, the group has melded the son jarocho tradition into all manners of other genres, resulting in seven albums (and counting), including last year's The Eternal Getdown
Together, each of our quartet got to pick an album that we associate with the summer and as you see above, we covered a whirlwind of styles and eras that bring up all manners of thoughts and feelings for us. Summer love may be fleeting but it lingers, always. 
More on Quetzal

Show Tracklisting:

  • Quetzal: Fig Pulp 
  • Alé Kumá: Vola Pajarito 
  • Alé Kumá: Por Que Me Pega 
  • Alé Kumá: Oiaymelo 
  • Mary J Blige: Love No Limit 
  • Mary J Blige: Reminisce 
  • Mary J Blige: Sweet Thing 
  • Mary J Blige: What's the 411 
  • Mary J Blige: I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By 
  • The Smiths: Sheila Take a Bow 
  • The Smiths: Shoplifters of the World Unite 
  • The Smiths: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now 
  • Kendrick Lamar: Hood Politics 
  • Kendrick Lamar: Alright 
  • Kendrick Lamar: King Kunta 
  • Kendrick Lamar: These Walls 
  • Kendrick Lamar: i 

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many of the songs above as we can find on there.

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

EP44: Phil Yu on Boyz II Men's "II" (1994)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Phil Yu

The Album: Boyz II Men: II (1994)

Phil Yu is better known to most as Angry Asian Man...except that he isn't actually all that angry (though he is Asian and a man). Phil started his titular site nearly 20 years ago and since then, it has become an indispensable news resource about Asian American culture, politics and related issues. Phil, along with Jeff Yang, also hosts his own Asian American culture podcast, They Call Us Bruce.

Phil wanted to revisit one of the big hit albums of his youth: II by Boyz II Men. By '94, the group was already one of the biggest acts in all of R&B and expectations were beyond high for the follow-up. The quartet of crooners from Philly didn't disappoint as II continued the group's reign at the top, especially thanks to smooth ballads like "Water Runs Dry," "On Bended Knee" and of course, "I'll Make Love To You." (The three of us couldn't stop laughing when we were discussing the majesty that was the video for that single. Shout out to sexy finger wags. And if anyone knows the identity of the woman in the video, get @ us about it!).

More on Phil Yu

More on II

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

  • Thank You
  • I’ll Make Love To You
  • Damar Jackson: No Protection
  • Thank You
  • Boyz II Men: Motownphilly
  • LL Cool J: Hey Lover
  • Khalil
  • Yesterday
  • Water Runs Dry
  • On Bended Knee
  • I’ll Make Love to You
  • Sisqo: Thong Song

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EP43: Jesse Thorn on The Coup's "Steal This Album" (1998)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jesse Thorn

The Album: The Coup: Steal This Album (1998)

Jesse Thorn, host of Bullseye and the MaximumFun podfather, has long been one of our biggest fans and we were delighted to have him come in to talk about one of his favorite albums: The Coup's stellar 1998 Steal This Album. 

The Coup, by then made up of Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress, had already established a reputation as one of hip-hop's most outspoken and unapologetically radical groups out there. Their 1993 debut, Kill My Landlord was a revelation. 1994's Genocide and Juice catapulted them onto the national stage. But by 1998, hip-hop's political era seemed distant in light of the era of jiggy rap yet in strode The Coup, resplendent in socialist ideas and that Oaktown funk, to mint a masterpiece devoted to defending the underdog and shedding light on the struggles of working class peoples.

More on Jesse Thorn

More on Steal This Album 

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Steal This Album  unless indicated otherwise):

  • Swervin
  • 20,000 Gun Salute
  • Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada
  • Digable Planets: 9th Wonder (Blackitolism)
  • Canibus: Second Round KO
  • Lauryn Hill: Doo-Wop (That Thing)
  • Jay-Z: Hard Knock Life
  • DMX: Ruff Ryders Anthem
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Da Booty
  • The Luniz: I Got Five on it (Remix)
  • The Repo Man Sings for You
  • Breathing Apparatus
  • Underdogs
  • Cars and Shoes
  • Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada
  • Busterismology
  • The Coup: Pork and Beef
  • Los Prisoneros: Tren al Sur
  • Prince: For You
  • Prince: I Would Die 4 U
  • Earl Sweatshirt: Balance
  • Foo Fighters: Darling Nikki
  • serpentwithfeet: fragrant
  • Pusha T: If You Know You Know
  • Teyana Taylor: Issues/ Hold On
  • Junglepussy: Trader Joe

Here's the Spotify playlist of as many of the songs above as we can find on there.

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

EP38: Marcus Moore on Mos Def's "Black on Both Sides" (1999)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Marcus Moore

The Album: Mos Def's Black on Both Sides (1999)

Writer Marcus Moore, currently a senior editor at Bandcamp, happened to be coming through to Los Angeles for his first time ever and we took advantage by inviting him to join us to talk about Mos Def's debut album, Black on Both Sides. Coming out just a year after Mos and Talib Kweli created a new generation of conscious hip-hop fans with their Black Star collaboration, Black on Both Sides was also the culmination of a coming-out party for the Brooklyn rapper/actor that began earlier in the decade as he began racking up all manners of outstanding cameo spots.

During our convo with Marcus, we got into Mos' portrait of Brooklyn, how his singing took everyone for a (pleasant) surprise, why "Ms. Fat Booty" wasn't necessarily representative of the album as a whole and whether or not Mos ever was able to exceed the excellence of his debut.

More on Mos Def and Black on Both Sides: 

More on Marcus Moore:

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Black on Both Sides unless indicated otherwise):

  • Know That
  • Umi Says
  • Nas: NY State of Mind
  • Biggie: Live Freestyle 1995
  • Mos Def: BET's The Cypher
  • Mos Def, Q-Tip, Tash: Body Rock
  • UTD: My Kung Fu
  • De La Soul: Big Brother Beat
  • Ms. Fat Booty
  • Jay-Z: Jigga What, Jigga Who
  • The Roots: You Got Me
  • Techn9ne: Questions
  • Reflection Eternal: Fortified Live
  • Love
  • dialogue from 16 Blocks
  • Rock N Roll
  • Public Enemy: Fight the Power
  • Rock N Roll
  • Love
  • New World Water
  • Boogie Down Productions: Beef
  • Fela Kuti: Water No Get Enemy
  • Climb
  • Umi Says
  • Aretha Franklin: One Step Ahead
  • Ms. Fat Booty
  • Roy Ayers: We Live In Brooklyn
  • Brooklyn
  • Ms. Fat Booty
  • Mathematics
  • May-December

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

EP37: Adrian Younge on Jeru's "The Sun Rises In the East" (1994)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Adrian Younge

The Album: Jeru the Damaja's The Sun Rises In the East (1994)

Since he started putting numbers on the board with the soundtrack to Black Dynamite, artist/composer Adrian Younge has become the hip-hop maestro for creative collaborations. Through the years, he's worked with Souls of Mischief, Ghostface Killah and DJ Premier/Royce the 5'9" as well as continuing to release his own solo work. For our episode, Younge reached back to the golden era of hip-hop for us to talk about one of the most "impervious" MCs around: Brooklyn's Jeru the Damaja and his 1994 debut album, The Sun Rises in the East. We tackled everything from the contradictions of rappers talking about both consciousness and doing dirt to the brilliance of DJ Premier's production to the intricacies of Jeru's freaky freaky freaky flow.

More on Jeru and The Sun Rises in the East: 

More on Adrian Younge:

Show Tracklisting (all songs fromThe Sun Rises in the East unless indicated otherwise):

  • Gang Starr: I'm the Man
  • Can't Stop the Prophet
  • Adrian Younge/Delfonics: Lost Without You
  • Adrian Younge/Ghostface: Beware of the Stars
  • D. Original
  • Come Clean
  • Souls of Mischief: '93 Til Infinity
  • Smif N Wessun: Let's Get It On
  • Black Moon: Who Got the Props?
  • Group Home: Livin Proof
  • Rap City Interview w/ Jeru
  • Perverted Monks In the House (Theme)
  • Jeru and Lauryn Hill Interview
  • Da Bitchez
  • Mental Stamina
  • Ain't the Devil Happy
  • Lee Oskar: Our Road
  • Adrian Younge: Midnight Blue
  • Jungle Music
  • Statik
  • Brooklyn Took It

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

EP32: Justin Simien on Michael Jackson's "HIStory" (1995)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Justin Simien

The album: Michael Jackson: HIStory: Past, Present and Future: Book 1 (1995)

Justin Simien, whose Dear White People is just beginning its second season on Netflix, came through to join us live for another Voyager Institute collaboration. By sheer coincidence, our last VI event took on Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation and here we are again, working our way through another Jackson family LP. (Can LaToya be too far behind?)

HIStory, as our crew points out, is an odd duck in the vaunted Jackson discography. Though it was enormously successful – the best selling double album of all time (especially since disc one was a "Greatest Hits" anthology) – it tends to have been overlooked given all the controversy swirling around MJ in that era. He had already been tried and acquitted on child molestation charges but his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley was still tabloid catnip and all this resulted in him recording, to quote Morgan: his most "pissed" off album, ever. This, and more, was all fodder for our conversation. But before you even listen, you have to watch the trailer for HIStory:

Meanwhile, don't forget to listen to last week's episode, about Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, featuring Martin Perna!

More on HIStory

More on Justin Simien

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

  • “Money”
  • “Scream”
  • Janet Jackson: Got Till It’s Gone “Got Till It’s Gone”
  • “This Time Around Feat. Biggie Smalls”
  • “You Are Not Alone”
  • “Stranger In Moscow”
  • “Childhood”
  • Michael Jackson: Bad “Leave Me Alone”
  • “They Don’t Really Care About Us”
  • “Tabloid Junkie”
  • Michael Jackson: Thriller “Someone In The Dark”

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”
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