Morgan Rhodes

EP33: Fredara Hadley on Anita Baker's "Compositions" (1990)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Fredara Hadley

The album: Anita Baker: Compositions (1990)

Ethnomusicologist Fredara Hadley had been on our wish list for a while and as luck would have it, she came to Los Angeles earlier this spring and things lined up nicely. For our episode, Fredara wanted to get into the queen of the quiet storm from the 1980s and early ‘90s: Anita Baker and her platinum-selling 1990 album, Compositions. During our conversation, we got into the nuances of Baker’s voice and how she compelled your full attention, how she fit (or didn’t) with the sound of R&B in the early ‘90s and how, as successful as she was, she could have thrived even better in an era where jazz and R&B overlap is better embraced.

More on Compositions

More on Fredara Hadley

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

  • “Talk To Me”
  • Anita Baker: Rapture “Sweet Love”
  • “Fairy Tales”
  • Peabo Bryson: Crosswinds “Crosswinds”
  • “More Thank You Know”
  • Mariah Carey: Mariah Carey “Vision of Love”
  • Lisa Stansfeild: Been Around The World “Been Around The World”
  • En Vogue:Born To Sing “Hold On To Your Love”
  • “Look What I Got”
  • Drake: Comeback Season “Think Good Thoughts Feat. Phonte and Elzhi”
  • Perri: “Airstream”
  • “Perfect Love Affair”
  • “Love You To The Letter”
  • “Feel The Need”
  • “Whatever It Takes”
  • “No One To Blame”
  • Jill Scott: The Light of the Sun “Hear My Call”
  • “Lonely”

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!

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!

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!

Heat Rocks, EP 14: Bosco on Erykah Badu's "Mama's Gun"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Bosco

The album: Erykah Badu: Mama's Gun (Motown, 2000)

Bosco was an artist that Morgan knew, from jump, she wanted to get on the show. A Savannah native who's now an L.A. transplant (by way of Atlanta), Bosco's been steady climbing the ranks in the music game and has had a breakout year in 2017, especially wiht the release of her full-length, b.

For her pick, Bosco wanted to revisit one of the formative albums that shaped her imagination as a kid: Erykah Badu's sophomore album: Mama's Gun. If Baduizm helped put Badu on the map, Mama's Gun - which was produced by the same Soulquarian team also working on D'Angelo's Voodoo and Common's Like Water For Chocolate - firmly established her as the preeminent queen of what was then called neo-soul and these days seems better described as future soul. Our conversation touched on many aspects of how Badu and her sound landed on people's ears back at the turn of the century and how it continues to reverberate today.

More on Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun

More on Bosco

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Mama's Gun unless indicated otherwise):

  • ”Bag Lady”
  • Bosco: b. “Castles”
  • Erykah Badu: Baduizm “Apple Tree”
  • ”Other Side Of The Game”
  • The Roots: Things Fall Apart “You’ve Got Me ft. Erykah Badu and Jill Scott Live”
  • Res: How I Do “How I Do”
  • ”Cleva”
  • SZA: Ctrl “Normal Girl”
  • ”Time’s A Wastin”
  • ”…&On”
  • ”Didn’t Cha Know”
  • Bosco: b. “Free”
  • ”Penitentiary Philosophy”
  • ”A.D. 2000”
  • ”Orange Tree”
  • …&On
  • ”Kiss Me ON My Neck”
  • ”Booty”
  • ”Green Eyes”
  • ”In Love With You Ft. Stephen Marley”
  • Erykah Badu: “I’ve Been Going Through it All”
  • ”Orange Tree”
  • …&On
  • ”Kiss Me ON My Neck”
  • ”Booty”
  • ”Green Eyes”
  • ”In Love With You Ft. Stephen Marley”
  • Erykah Badu: Erykah Badu “Amerykahn Promise”

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

EP12: "The Prequel Episode" feat. Loren Kajikawa on Dr. Dre's "The Chronic"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Loren Kajikawa

The album: Dr. Dre: The Chronic (Interscope, 1992)

This is a special "prequel" episode, originally taped in December of 2016. Back then, Heat Rocks was just a mere glint in the eye Morgan and Oliver. All we had was a basic concept: how about a podcast devoted to doing deep dives into an album? We invited Univ. of Oregon musicologist Loren Kajikawa, author of Sounding Race In Rap Songsto help us tackle one of the most important albums of the last 25 years: Dr. Dre's The Chronic, which just so happens to celebrate its 25th release anniversary today (hence why we timed to put it out now).

For our listeners, you'll notice that while this episode shares some familiar aspects with our regular Heat Rocks shows, there are some differences. For one, we hadn't come up with our format yet, especially in having our guests pick a hot track, sleeper jam, etc. We had also toyed with a little "Context" section - complete with its own jingle! - that we eventually abandoned because it was superfluous (Oliver did have fun making the jingle though). But overall, we think you can easily see the seed of Heat Rocks even in this very early attempt. Hope you all enjoy it and we're so happy to finally share this, one year later.

More on Dr. Dre's The Chronic:

More on Loren Kajikawa

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Chronic unless indicated otherwise):

  • Fuck Wit Dre Day
  • Nuthin' But a G Thang
  • Leon Haywood: I Want To Do Something Freaky To You
  • Public Enemy: Bring Da Noise
  • Above the Law: Livin' Like Hustlers
  • Let Me Ride
  • The Roach
  • NWA: Niggaz 4 Life (From Efil4zaggin)
  • Lyrical Gangbang (feat. Lady of Rage and Kurupt)
  • Stranded On Death Row (feat. Kurupt and Snoop Dogg)
  • Rat-A-Tat-Tat
  • Dr. Dre: Deep Cover (feat. Snoop Dogg, from Deep Cover OST)
  • Tupac and Snoop Dogg: Amerikaz Most Wanted
  • The Day the Niggaz Took Over
  • Bitches Ain't Shit

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

Heat Rocks, EP 9: The Shacks on The Sapphires' "Best Of" (1960s)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
The Shacks

The album: The Sapphires: Best Of (Heritage, 1994)

This week, we are joined by The Shacks, the NYC-based duo of singer Shannon Wise and producer Max Shrager. Maybe you heard their cool cover of The Kinks' "This Strange Effect" on that Apple ad this fall? Or maybe you were already up on them from their EP, released by Big Crown? Either way, Max and Shannon threw us a curveball with their choice: a 1994 compilation of nearly two dozen sides recorded in the mid-1960s by The Sapphires, the obscure-ish R&B trio of Carol Jackson, George Gainer and Joe Livingston that recorded with Swan and ABC-Paramount before dissolving circa 1966. We talked about the unique sound of The Sapphires, the roots of Philly soul, and what it's like to dig through the crates to figure out your own sound.

This episode was both the first time we had a group in the studio, which was fun, and the first time we tackled an album from the 1960s. Hopefully, it won't be the last, for either.

More on The Sapphpires and their Best Of anthology:

More on The Shacks:

Show Tracklisting:

  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Who Do You Love"
  • The Shacks: The Shacks EP "This Strange Effect"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Lets Break Up For A While"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Gotta Have Your Love"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Evil One"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Come On And Love Me"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Your True Love"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Evil One"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Your True Love"
  • Edison Lighthouse: Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Hearts Are Made to be Broken"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "I've Got Mine, You Better Get Yours"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Evil One"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Who Do You Love"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Slow Fizz"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Baby You've Got Me"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Hearts Are Made To Be Broken"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Let Break Up For A While"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Gotta Have Your Love"

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

Heat Rocks, EP 7: Anil Dash on Prince's "1999" (1982)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Anil Dash

The album: Prince: 1999 (Warner Bros., 1982)

This week, we are joined by Anil Dash, the tech entrepreneur and activist whose love for The Purple One is legendary. He takes us into the Heat Rocks deep dive for Prince's 1999, the album that marked his new wave turn. All three of us share tales of our older family members being scandalized by the sexy-sexiness on the album. Mmmmmm...spicy. 

More on Prince and 1999:

More on Anil Dash:

Show Tracklisting:

  • Prince: 1999 "1999"
  • Prince: 1999 "Delirious"
  • Prince: 1999 "D.M.S.R."
  • Michael Jackson Thriller "Thriller"
  • Prince: 1999 "Little Red Corvette"
  • Prince: 1999 "Lady Cab Driver"
  • Prince: 1999 "Something in the Water"
  • Prince: 1999 "Free"
  • Prince: 1999 "All The Critics Love U in New York"

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

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