Morgan Rhodes

EP60: Chris Molanphy on George Michael's "Faith" (1987)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Chris Molanphy

The Album: George Michael: Faith (1987)

In the fall of 1987, it wasn't a foregone conclusion that George Michael's solo debut, Faith, would be a hit. As successful as Michael had been as half of the Wham! duo, going solo was always going to be a risk but as it turns out, it was one worth taking. Faith turned out to be a runaway hit, not simply a #1 album but spawning four different #1 singles, including the lively title song which became the best-selling song of 1988 in the U.S.

It wasn't without controversy however, especially with conservative outcries against the song, "I Want Your Sex," and its video for being too racy or explicit, all the while Michael, as we learned later, was insinuating hints about his own changing sexual identity into different verses. These were all topics of discussion that came up with our guest, Chris Molanphy, creator and host of the Hit Parade podcast which analyzes chart histories to provide incredibly in-depth discussions about pop music. Chris takes on the sometimes arcane peculiarities of music charts and uses them as a way to jump into far broader discussions about pop trends, figures and transformations. Chris had previous taped an episode of Hit Parade devoted to the parallel careers of Michael and Elton John and he brought that wealth of knowledge to our conversation.

More on Chris Molanphy

More on Faith

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

  • I Want Your Sex (Parts I & II)
  • Wham!: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
  • George Michael: Careless Whisper
  • Hard Day
  • Father Figure
  • I Want Your Sex (Parts I & II)
  • Sinead O'Connor: Nothing Compares 2 U
  • One More Try
  • Hard Day (Shep Pettibone Remix)
  • Hard Day
  • Kissing A Fool
  • Father Figure
  • Hand to Mouth
  • Limp Bizkit: Faith
  • Faith
  • Estelle: No Substitute Love
  • Kissing A Fool

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

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

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

EP 57: Women Behaving Boldly #4: Ann Powers on Madonna's "Like A Prayer" (1989)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Ann Powers

For the fourth installment in our Women Behaving Boldly mini-series, we spin the clock back to an episode we first aired a year ago: Ann Powers, talking about Madonna’s Like a Prayer from 1989. From the beginning, we knew this episode in particular would make a perfect fit with the WBB series. After all, few pop artists, female or male, have done more to transform the pop landscape since the 1980s than Madonna, often times inviting scrutiny and criticism in the process for pushing the proverbial envelope on what people found acceptable by musical artists in that era. And to have Ann Powers, one of the country’s premier music critics, here to break down Madonna’s import was a gift unto itself. If you missed this the first time, we’re excited for you to hear it now. And if you heard it before, revisit this gem from our vaults.

The album: Madonna: Like a Prayer (Sire, 1989)

This week, Morgan and Oliver are joined by Ann Powers of NPR Music and author of the new book, Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music. Together, the three dug into Like a Prayer, Madonna's critical breakout album form 1989. As Ann lays out, Madonna had already established herself as an MTV-era mega-star with her previous albums but Like a Prayer, with its then-controversial sexual politics and surprising personal candor, marked a new level of artistic ambition.

More on Madonna and Like a Prayer

More on Ann Powers:

Tracklisting (all songs from Like a Prayer unless indicated otherwise):

  • Like a Prayer
  • Madonna: Like a Virgin
  • Till Death Do Us Part
  • Express Yourself
  • Act of Contrition
  • Love Song
  • Cherish
  • Keep it Together
  • Like a Prayer

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

EP 56: Women Behaving Boldly #3: Joi on Betty Davis' "They Say I'm Different" (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Joi Gilliam

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

As part of our "Women Behaving Boldly" series, we decided to re-air the episode that launched Heat Rocks: our interview with future soul trailblazer and architect, Joi Gilliam.

This was one the pilot episodes we recorded in the spring of 2017 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(all songs from They Say I'm Different unless indicated otherwise):

  • They Say I'm Different
  • Joi: Sunshine & The Rain
  • Bone Crusher: Never Scared
  • Joi: Fatal Lovesick Journey
  • Don't Call Her No Tramp
  • Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him
  • Ice Cube: Once Upon a Time in the Projects
  • They Say I'm Different
  • 70's Blues
  • Special People
  • Joi: If I'm in Luck I Just Might Get Picked Up
  • Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him
  • He Was a Big Freak

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

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

EP55: Women Behaving Boldly #2: Aretha Franklin Retrospective feat. Lynnée Denise

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Lynnée Denise

The Albums:

  • Aretha Franklin: Young, Gifted, and Black (1974)
  • Aretha Franklin: Jazz to Soul (1994)
  • Aretha Franklin: Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul (2007)

Heat Rocks had always planned to sit down with DJ Lynnée Denise, an LA-based DJ and music scholar, but when Aretha Franklin passed on August 16th, we invited her to come talk with us about the Queen's life and legacy as part two of our series Women Behaving Boldly.

What a fantastic decision!

Admittedly, Queen Aretha's discography is too vast and too fire to be discussed on just one show so we cherry picked our favorite heat rocks: Oliver (The Queen in Waiting - The Columbia Years), Morgan (Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul) and DJ Lynnée Denise (Young, Gifted and Black).

The three of us, brought together by a shared love and reverence for the Queen talked about her incredible voice and gift of interpretation and DJ Lynnée unpacked the Aretha's relationship with the church, with Detroit, with her instrument(s), with black folks and of course, her place in the canon of music.

Heat Rocks is thankful for an opportunity to spend an hour talking about the undisputed Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, with DJ Lynnée Denise who dropped some nuggets of wisdom on us.

More on Lynnée Denise

Our favorite Aretha performances

More on Aretha

Additional Aretha Links

Show Tracklisting (all songs by Aretha Franklin unless indicated otherwise):

  • I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)
  • Rock Steady
  • EPMD: I'm Housin'
  • Rock Steady
  • Young, Gifted and Black
  • Soulville
  • Border Song (Holy Moses)
  • The Long and Winding Road
  • At Last (Let Me In Your Life Outtake)
  • Nina Simone: To Be Young, Gifted and Black
  • Young, Gifted and Black
  • Elton John: Young, Gifted and Black
  • The Heptones: Young, Gifted and Black
  • Bob and Marcia: To Be Young Gifted and Black
  • I've Been Loving You Too Long
  • Day Dreaming
  • Just for a Thrill
  • Drinking Again
  • This Bitter Earth
  • Jump To It
  • One Step Ahead
  • Mos Def: Ms. Fat Booty
  • Ain't But the One
  • I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) [Demo]
  • At Last (Let Me In Your Life Outtake)
  • So Soon
  • Rock Steady (Alternate Mix)
  • Are You Leaving Me [Demo]

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

EP 54: Women Behaving Boldly #1: Oliver & Morgan on Millie Jackson's Caught Up (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks

The Album: Millie Jackson Caught Up (1974)

Some months ago, Oliver and Morgan kicked around the idea of celebrating women over the course of a few Heat Rocks episodes. We decided we'd package it as a series and Oliver came up with the name "Women Behaving Boldly". Gotta love it.

To kick off the series, we chose the incomparable, ahead-of-her-time, OG provocateur Mildred Virginia Jackson known professionally as MILLIE JACKSON.

Millie Jackson is the Queen of Raunchy Rap. She spent much of the seventies singing about relationships and situationships. Her lyrics and conversations in the interludes of songs talked about complicated adult dramas like infidelity and divorce. Her words were raw and honest but also grown and sexy.

1974's Caught Up, her fourth release was a concept album which dealt with the before during and aftermath of an affair told from varying perspectives. Oliver and Morgan sat down to talk about all the elements that make this album fire - a heat rock.

More on Millie Jackson

More on Caught Up

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Caught Up unless indicated otherwise):

  • So Easy Going, So Hard Coming Back
  • Rihanna: Needed Me
  • Millie Jackson: Phuck U Symphony
  • Millie Jackson: All the Way Lover
  • The Rap
  • Millie Jackson: Gospel Truth
  • The Rap
  • All I Want is a Fighting Chance
  • It's All Over but the Shouting
  • A House for Sale
  • Gladys Knight and the Pips: Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)
  • I'm Tired of Hiding
  • The Rap
  • The First Time
  • I'm Through Trying to Prove My Love to You
  • A House for Sale

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

EP52: Aurora Guerrero on the "Mosquita Y Mari" soundtrack (2012)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Aurora Guerrero

The Album: "Mosquita Y Mari" soundtrack (2012)

Aurora Guerrero is a Chicana filmmaker whose 2012 sweet coming-of-age story about two young Chicanas falling in love in Huntington Park was hit at Sundance that year. The Hollywood Reporter called it "...a robust work of self-discovery for two girls at the most awkward and confusing years of their young lives, and a testament to Aurora Guerrero's storytelling prowess." Traditions and emotions merge as the Yolanda and Mari's relationship grows intensely over time.

The narrative is underscored by a gorgeous soundtrack - the sound of East Los Angeles' eclectic underground music scene featuring indie artists across genres: ska, punk and hip hop with bands like Mexico 72, Pistolero, Viernes 13 and La Pobreska.

We sat with Aurora to talk about her curation process, the music vibe of Huntington Park, what falling in love sounds like when you're 15 and how Mosquita Y Mari put Southeast L.A. on the map in a new way.

More on Aurora Guerrero

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

  • Mosquita Y Mari - Main Title
  • Yoli On the Rooftop
  • Ponle Frenos
  • Las Cruces de Tijuana
  • Esta Soledad
  • Pierdete Chica
  • El Dia Previo
  • Mi Corazon Es Para Ti

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many song as we can find there.
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

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!

EP46: Thomas Golubic on De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising" (1989)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Thomas Golubic

The Album: De La Soul: Three Feet High and Rising (Tommy Boy, 1989)
I (OW) mention this on the episode but this album changed my life. It wasn't my introduction to hip-hop but it was the album through which I fell in love with hip-hop and that set me down a path that shaped the rest of my professional (and even personal!) life: as a writer, scholar, DJ and of course, humble podcast host. 
It clearly had an impact on Thomas Golubic too. Our guest for this episode is one of the top music supervisors in the game (as Morgan jokes, he's not just a member, he's the president, literally). He worked on Six Feet Under Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and right now, Better Call Saul; those in L.A. may also remember him from his KCRW days. 
Thomas and us dug deep into everything that makes this album so special, not the least of which is how it shifted the perception of what hip-hop could sound and look like. It's may be hard to remember now, nearly 30 years later, but in 1989, hip-hop was dominated by larger-than-life, superhero MCs such as KRS-One, Chuck D, Rakim, etc. But here were these four guys from Long Island, with a wholly creative irreverence, embracing their inner nerdiness (and soul ya'll) and mining a treasure trove of samples beyond the James Brown catalog (the latter would get them in trouble, which we talk about as well). The album, and group, changed the proverbial game. No more no less.  
More on Thomas Golubic

More on Three Feet High and Rising

Show Tracklisting (all songs fromThree Feet High and Rising unless indicated otherwise):

  • Say No Go 
  • Sia: Breathe Me 
  • Nat King Cole: Pick Yourself Up 
  • Little Richard: Hurry Sundown 
  • The Magic Number 
  • The Turtles - You Showed Me 
  • Transmitting Live From Mars 
  • Steely Dan: Black Cow 
  • Peter Gunz: Deja Vu (Uptown Baby) 
  • Say No Go 
  • The Invitations: Written on the Wall
  • Plug Tunin 
  • Bob Dorough: Three is a Magic Number 
  • The Magic Number 
  • Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)
  • Kool G Rap and DJ Polo: Road to the Riches 
  • Say No Go 
  • Intro 
  • Eye Know 
  • Me Myself and I 
  • Tread Water 
  • D.A.I.S.Y. Age 
  • Double Huey Skit
  • Cool Breeze on the Rocks
  • I Can Do Anything

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

EP45: Amber Navran on King's "We Are King" (2016)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Amber Navran

The Album: KING: We Are KING (2016)

Los Angeles' underground soul scene is full of talent. The scene's unique blend of soul, jazz, lo-fi, and electronica has helped to bring LA into prominence. Amber Navran is part of the community, first as a member of soul jazz trio Moonchild, and now as a solo artist. Her debut project, Speak Up was released to critical acclaim in 2017 and showcases both her musicianship and her buttery vocals. She joined us to talk about KING, the Grammy-nominated trio whose EP The Story blew them all the way up and thrust them into the Twitterverse where they remain faves.

We talked about the harmonies that make KING's music so swoon-worthy, the arrangements that have dazzled listeners since 2011, and the many reasons "We Are KING" is a heat rock.

More on Amber Navran

More on KING

Show Tracklisting (all songs from We Are King unless indicated otherwise):

  • The Greatest
  • Moonchild: Be Free
  • Amber Navran: He's Been Gone
  • Hey
  • Adele: Rolling in the Deep
  • Lalah Hathaway: Where it all Begins
  • Little Dragon: Ritual Reunion
  • Supernatural
  • The Story
  • Hey
  • Moonchild: Every Part (For Linda)
  • Supernatural
  • The Right One
  • Red Eye
  • Quincy Jones: Tell Me A Bedtime Story
  • Carry On
  • Mister Chameleon
  • In the Meantime
  • The Right One
  • The Greatest
  • Supernatural
  • Moonchild: Run Away (Remix)
  • Hey

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!

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