R&B

Heat Rocks, EP 2: Phonte on Intro's "Intro" (1993)

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Heat Rocks
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Phonte

The album: Intro: Intro (Atlantic, 1993)

This week rapper, producer, and songwriter Phonte (Foreign Exchange, Little Brother) joins Oliver and Morgan to talk about R&B group Intro's 1993 self-titled debut album. The release was part of the changing tide of R&B music, when slow jams were giving way to more uptempo hits and singers were exchanging suits for Timbs and jeans.

Phonte shares about what Intro's brand of new jack swing meant to him as a teenager learning about life in Greensboro, North Carolina. Don't get him wrong: he was a hardcore hip-hop head, but he grew up both in an R&B household and in the church where singing was a big part of his musical formation. Phonte breaks down the group's influence on his understanding of songwriting, lyrics, and the balance between uptempo and down-tempo songs. He also discusses the album's mature themes, crediting them for helping a young brother's macking game.

More on Intro

More on Phonte:

Tracklisting:

  • Intro: Love Thang
  • Intro: Let Me Be The One
  • Jodeci: Forever My Lady
  • Brick: Dazz (1976)
  • Heavy D & The Boyz: Mr. Big Stuff
  • Jade: Don't Walk Away (1992)
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Award Tour
  • Mary J. Blige - You Don't Have To Worry
  • Intro: Come Inside
  • Intro: Why Don't You Love Me?
  • Intro: Ribbon in the Sky
  • Intro: One of a Kind Love
  • Faith Evans: Reasons
  • Intro: Ecstasy of Love
  • Intro: So Many Reasons
  • Intro: Don't Leave Me
  • Intro: It's All About You
  • Foreign Exchange: If She Breaks Your Heart (feat. Yahzarah)

Bullseye: Chuck Klosterman & W. Kamau Bell

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Chuck Klosterman
Guests: 
W. Kamau Bell

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Chuck Klosterman on consuming culture on the Internet and how the present will be perceived in the future

Chuck Klosterman has written countless articles for GQ, ESPN, The Washington Post, Esquire, The Guardian and more. His new book, But What if We’re Wrong, examines how the present will be perceived it as the past. What exactly will be thought of as important events to people that are hundreds of years removed from it all? Is it even possible to get every fact correct when writing about the past?

Klosterman sits down with Jesse to talk about how we consume culture, how historians frequently reinterpret historical events, and how writing online and writing for print are fundamentally different undertakings.

Chuck Klosterman’s book But What if We’re Wrong? is available now.


Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

W. Kamau Bell on the Best Advice He’s Received

Socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell shares with us the best piece of advice he’s ever received.

The Outshot: Tony! Toni! Toné!

Jesse talks about Tony! Toni! Toné! and how they successfully merged soul music and hip-hop to create a new type of R&B.

Bullseye: Mary Roach & William Bell

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Mary Roach
Guests: 
William Bell

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Photo: Jesse Thorn

Mary Roach on Shark Repellant, Submarines and “The Suck”.

Though she didn’t earn a degree in the sciences, author Mary Roach has a knack for writing about them with insight and wit. Whether she’s describing what happens to the body after death or the many aspects of human sexuality, Roach makes her topics accessible and fun.

Roach has authored half a dozen books including: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, as well as articles for magazines including Vogue, GQ, and National Geographic.

Mary Roach sat down with Jesse about whether shark repellant actually exists, life on submarines and how leaches inspired her to write a book on military science.

Mary Roach’s new book is Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War


Photo: Jesse Thorn

William Bell on the Family at Staxx Records, His Career Before and After Being Drafted and His Voice, Then and Now

William Bell is a soul singer and songwriter whose distinctive sound is forever associated with the legendary Stax Records. Along with with performers like Otis Redding, Sam and Duke, Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers, Bell helped create music that continues to entertain and inspire.

He is famous for his hit songs including You Don’t Miss Your Water, Private Number, A Tribute to the King and Everybody Loves a Winner. He also co-wrote the classic song, Born Under a Bad Sign which was originally performed by Albert King and later covered by Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, Cream and even Homer Simpson.

William Bell joined Jesse to talk about what it was like beginning his musical career while still a teenager, how he returned to his career after being drafted and what he thinks about his own voice, now that he is in his seventies.

William Bell’s new album is This is Where I Live.


Photo: Peter Kramer/Getty Images

The Outshot: Tanya Tucker’s What's Your Mama's Name

Jesse shares why Tanya Tucker’s voice and classic song, What’s Your Mama’s Name manages to move him every time he hears it.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mavis Staples

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Bullseye
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Mavis Staples


Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Mavis Staples talks about Singing Gospel, Civil Rights, and Working with Prince

Mavis Staples is one of the greatest singers of our time-- a gospel, soul and R&B vocalist known for her rich, throaty voice. She began as the lead member of The Staple Singers in the 1950's, a family gospel group formed by Pops Staples and several of his children.

The Staple Singers achieved hits with "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do it Again". They also became a musical voice of the American Civil Rights Movement with their protest music.

Staples has reinvented her sound over the decades. She's worked with Curtis Mayfield, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan and Prince (Yes, THAT Prince).

Her most recent album One True Vine was released in 2013 and produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. You can find a partial transcript of this interview here.

This segment originally aired January 30th, 2011.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.

My Brother, My Brother and Me Offer Pop Culture Advice

Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy from My Brother, My Brother and Me join the show to answer pop culture quandaries from listeners.

Are you ever too old to hang up posters on your walls? Should you ever tell your children that the shows they like actually suck? Is it ever a good idea to talk to a stranger about the book they're reading? The brothers proffer their advice with a healthy amount of goofs mixed in.

If you liked what you heard, over 200 episodes of My Brother, My Brother and Me are available on
iTunes and right here on Maximumfun.org

This segment originally aired February 28, 2012.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this segment.

The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the portrait is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

This segment originally aired March 24, 2012.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band, Mark Frauenfelder

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Bullseye
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Charlie Wilson
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder


Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: "Good Dog" and Super Durak

Mark Frauenfelder, founder of BoingBoing and host of the Gweek podcast joins us to weigh on his latest obsessions in the form of geeky pop culture. This time, it's Graham Chaffee's Good Dog and the virtual version of Russian card game Super Durak, for iOs.

Chaffee's book, out this week, is a tour through a stray dog's life as he weighs a life of independence against the security of being a house pet, exploring the psychology of dogs in a vein similar to White Fang. Frauenfelder also suggests downloading the Super Durak app for a card game with a unique twist -- there are no winners.

Click here to share these recommendations with your friends.


Charlie Wilson: Creating Funk Jams with the Gap Band, Overcoming Addiction, and Recovering a Career

From his years as the frontman of the funk-R&B group the Gap Band, to singing hooks for rappers like Snoop Dogg and Kanye West, to his solo career recording R&B hits in his airy tenor, Charlie Wilson has been all about music. He grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of a Pentecostal preacher and a music minister mother. Wilson spent his early years singing for his father's congregation and formed the Gap Band with his brothers, Ronnie and Robert, as a teenager.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, the Gap Band took their signature funk and R&B sound and made chart-topping hits like "Burn Rubber on Me", "Outstanding", "You Dropped a Bomb on Me", and "Party Train". The band's management was rocky in the mid 1980s, and Wilson's life took a downturn. A few years later, he was addicted to drugs and living on the streets. But a love for music and sense of pride helped right the course, and he retooled his career into Grammy-nominated solo work.
Wilson talks to us about crafting the now-classic sounds of the Gap Band, encounters with Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone, and why he returned to music after years of isolation and addiction.

Charlie Wilson's newest record is Love, Charlie. He'll receive BET's Lifetime Achievement Award on June 30th.

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Comedy: Al Madrigal Meets the "Cholo Soccer Dad"

There's a very specific kind of subculture you might encounter in East Los Angeles. Al Madrigal explains his encounter with it in this clip from his new stand up special, Why Is the Rabbit Crying?.

Al Madrigal is a stand up comic. You can catch him on the road in selected cities this summer and fall, and on TV as The Daily Show's Latino Correspondent.

The Outshot: "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton" by The Mountain Goats

Jesse explores a song about two high school friends, a death metal band, and dreams. It's "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton".

The Mountain Goats are on tour this summer. You can find those dates on their website.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Share your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forums.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Stephen Tobolowsky and Kasper Hauser News

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Bullseye
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Stephen Tobolowsky
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser
Guests: 
Maggie Serota
Guests: 
Tom Scharpling
Guests: 
Daniel Ralston

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Music Picks with the Low Times

Tom Scharpling, Maggie Serota, and Daniel Ralston from the Low Times podcast join us this week with music suggestions. Maggie recommends “What Have I Done to Deserve This” from Pet Shop Boys, Tom suggests “Stud Spider” by Tony Joe White, and Daniel thinks we should check out Bill Fox’s “Bonded to You.”

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Photo credit Jim Britt

Life Stories with Stephen Tobolowsky

You may best recognize Stephen Tobolowsky from his role as Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day, but his considerable body of work spans several mediums. He's appeared as a character actor in hundreds of films and television shows, including the HBO series Deadwood, he hosts The Tobolowsky Files podcast, and he's now written a book called The Dangerous Animals Club.

The stories in his podcast and his new book are about his life, but they aren't Hollywood gossip. They're funny, intimate, and often profound recountings of things from his normal life – like falling in love for the first time, being held at gunpoint at the grocery store, and spending Christmas Eve tripping on acid. He joins us to share some of those stories.

(Click here to listen and share more of our conversation with Stephen Tobolowsky that didn't make the radio cut!)


The News with Kasper Hauser

The intrepid journalists of Kasper Hauser news team have their fingers on the pulse of fake news, and they return this week to keep you updated.

The members of Kasper Hauser are based in San Francisco and are the authors of Obama's Blackberry, Weddings of the Times, and the forthcoming Earn Your MBA On the Toilet.

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The Outshot: Frank Ocean's Channel Orange

R&B has lost its edge in recent years, but Frank Ocean’s album Channel Orange is a new, exciting example of the genre. Ocean channels emotions and harnesses distance to create beautiful, memorable songs and a masterful record.

What's your favorite R&B album? Head over to the MaxFun forum and share YOUR outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Syl Johnson, Gillian Flynn, and Matt Berninger

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Syl Johnson
Guests: 
Gillian Flynn
Guests: 
Matt Berninger
Guests: 
Tasha Robinson
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

We're joined again this week by guest co-host Julie Klausner.


The AV Club Recommends: The Fantastical Thoughts of Jim Henson and a New Take on Wuthering Heights

Associate National Editor Tasha Robinson and Film Editor Scott Tobias of the AV Club recommend Imagination Illustrated, which journals the various creative efforts of Jim Henson, and a modern, dark adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

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The Enigmatic, Grammy-Nominated Syl Johnson

Inspired by the sounds of Jackie Wilson, Little Walter, and Muddy Waters, Syl Johnson set out to make his own mark in music in the 1950s. His own gritty, bluesy voice and funk rhythms earned him a place in the Chicago soul and blues scene. Over the course of a career on Chicago's Twinight and Memphis' Hi Records, Johnson released several singles that climbed their way up the pop and R&B charts ("Different Strokes", "Come On Sock It To Me", "Is It Because I'm Black?") and but never attained the smash success of contemporaries like Al Green or James Brown.

He found ubiquity later in life, when dozens of hip hop artists from Run-DMC to Kanye West dug into his catalog to sample his sounds (perhaps foremost his signature scream on "Different Strokes"). Johnson found himself in the spotlight again last year when the archival label Numero Group assembled a Grammy-nominated boxset of his early cuts, titled Syl Johnson: The Mythology.

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Matt Berninger: The Song that Changed My Life

Matt Berninger, lead singer of The National, recalls being pelted by golf balls and listening to the song which changed his life, The Boy with a Thorn in His Side by The Smiths.

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Gillian Flynn on the Damaged Psyches in Gone Girl

Armed with childhood memories of watching Psycho and Alien and an insatiable appetite for true crime stories, Gillian Flynn began writing her first thriller, Sharp Objects. The book's success took Flynn from magazine journalist to full-time author. Her newest book, the bestselling Gone Girl, is a twisted and wry look at a marriage gone horribly wrong.

Flynn offers insights on the twisted and damaged psyches of her characters, cherishing the unease that comes with following an unreliable narrator, and how she combats the trope of the female victim.

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The Outshot: Key & Peele

This week, Jesse lauds the commitment and direction of Key & Peele's sketch comedy.

For more, check out our interview with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele from earlier this year.

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What’s your favorite sketch comedy show? Jump over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, Andrew Noz and God on Noah

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Doug Jones
Guests: 
Jeffrey Tambor
Guests: 
Andrew Noz
Guests: 
Seth Morris
Guests: 
David Javerbaum


Noz on Rap

Blogger Andrew Noz from Cocaine Blunts kicks off this week's show by recommending some recent favorites from the world of rap -- Stupid H** from Nicki Minaj, and Walking Lick by Gucci Mane & Waka Flocka Flame.

For more from Noz, check out CocaineBlunts.com or his cover story in this month's issue of The Fader.
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Character Actor Jeffrey Tambor

Jeffrey Tambor began his screen-acting career at the age of 35, though he'd been acting onstage since he was eight years old. A native of San Francisco, he started in television in the 1970s, and his career has followed a simple track since: he plays important authority figures (doctors, lawyers, judges) and self-important pseudo-authority figures; those have included the beloved characters Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show, and George Bluth, Sr. on Arrested Development.

Jeffrey sat down with Jesse back in 2009 to talk about how he got involved with both Arrested Development and Larry Sanders (or as his mother called it, The Hank Kingsley Show), the art of finding the serious side to comedic characters, and his teaching career. He brings his acting workshop to South by Southwest later this month. His new sitcom Bent premieres March 21st on NBC.
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From A Memoir By God: God Speaks about Noah

What really went down when God asked Noah to build the ark? Emmy award-winning comedy writer David Javerbaum (formerly the Executive Producer of The Daily Show) is the unlikely co-writer of The Last Testament: A Memoir by God. Comedian Seth Morris acts as God’s loudspeaker to bring us this excerpt.
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Photo credit Albert L. Ortega
The Man Behind the Mask: Actor and Mime Doug Jones

Doug Jones is a film actor who got his first dramatic training as a mime. He's since gone on to star in a number of blockbuster films over the years, though you may not recognize his face. He is the man underneath the make-up in many of Guillermo Del Toro's films, playing numerous characters in the Hellboy series, and the title character in Pan's Labyrinth (as well as the horrific Pale Man). He's often recognized for his unique physique, including long spindly fingers. You might also know him as the Silver Surfer in the second Fantastic Four film.

Doug talks his unlikely career as a monster movie star, his dedication to the physicality of a role, as well as his new book that hearkens back to his original performances days as a mime, called Mime Very Own Book.
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The Outshot: “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke

For this week's Outshot, Jesse recommends the simplistic soul sound of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," from the R&B singer's self-titled 1957 album.
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Daryl Hall, Singer, Songwriter and Producer: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Daryl Hall

Daryl Hall, best known as the lead vocalist and co-founder of Hall & Oates, is a singer, songwriter and producer with a collection of #1 songs to his name. He spent his formative years in Philadelphia around soul singers like Smokey Robinson.

Daryl Hall and John Oates met as students at Temple University, and went on to form a best-selling musical duo with chart-toppers like "Rich Girl", "Sara Smile", and "Private Eyes".

His newest project is a web series called Live from Daryl's House of performances and collaborations with a diverse set of musicians that's included Todd Rundgren, Toots and the Maytals, Chromeo and the Neon Trees.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the show is Daryl Hall. He’s half of the legendary, chart-busting duo Hall & Oates. He sang lead and wrote or co-wrote six number one hits with the band, and had a really astonishing string of chart successes beginning in the late 1970s and running through the mid-1980s. Now he’s decided to bring the concerts to his house with a series called “Live from Daryl’s House” that features musical collaborations with artists as diverse as Smokey Robinson and Todd Rundgren. It runs live and streaming on the web. Daryl, welcome to The Sound of Young America, it’s really great to have you on the show.

DARYL HALL: Thank you, glad to be here.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.

Mavis Staples, Gospel and R&B Legend: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples is one of the greatest singers of our time -- a gospel, soul, and R&B vocalist known for her rich, throaty voice. She began as the lead singer of The Staple Singers, a family gospel group formed by Pops Staples and several of his children. The Staple Singers achieved several hits with "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again". They also became a musical voice of the American civil rights movement with their protest music.

Mavis has reinvented her sound over the decades since The Staple Singers' introduction in 1950 and worked with Curtis Mayfield, Prince, Ry Cooder, and Bob Dylan. Her newest album, You Are Not Alone, was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.

Click here for a full transcript of this show.
Click here to download or stream the audio of this interview.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is one of our greatest singers, Mavis Staples. In her 50-plus-year career with The Staple Singers and as a solo artist, she has really and truly bridged genres from soul to gospel to R&B to country, and her latest record was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Mavis Staples, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

MAVIS STAPLES: Well thank you, thank you. I’m happy to be with you.

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