Heat Rocks

Hosted by Oliver Wang and Morgan Rhodes, every episode of Heat Rocks invites a special guest to talk about a heat rock - a hot album, a scorching record. These are in-depth conversations about the albums that shape our lives.

Our guests include musicians, writers, and scholars and though we don't exclusively focus on any one genre, expect to hear about albums from the worlds of soul, hip-hop, funk, jazz, Latin and more.

New episodes every Thursday on Apple Podcasts or whatever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe to our website updates for exclusive bonus content (including extra interview segments, mini-episodes, etc.)

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EP99: Raphael Saadiq on Earth, Wind & Fire's "That's The Way Of The World" (1975) + Remembering Nipsey Hussle

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Raphael Saadiq

The Album: Earth, Wind & Fire That's The Way Of The World (1975)

On March 15, 1975, Columbia Records released "That's The Way Of The World" the sixth studio album of Earth Wind & Fire, a band of 10 members who fused rock, jazz, funk and soul. The album sold five million units, and won a Grammy for the single "Shining Star" (Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group). Produced by Maurice White and Charles Stepney, the album focused on EWF's familiar themes, spirituality, oneness, love.

Oscar and Golden Globe nominated composer Raphael Saadiq joined Oliver and Morgan in studio to talk That's The Way of The World and all the things that made EWF iconic including, Philip Bailey's falsetto, Maurice White's mysticisms and drum heroics, Charles Stepney's production and the harmonies that caught his ear and his attention and the happy feelings the band's music inspired in his own musicianship as a youth growing up in Oakland.

You'll want to catch this one. Because Reasons.

And stay tuned after the interview for a special segment celebrating the life and music of Nipsey Hussel, who would have turned 34 this week. Rest in power, Nipsey.

More on Raphael Saadiq

More on That's The Way Of The World

Show Tracklisting (all songs from That's The Way Of The World unless indicated otherwise):

  • See The Light
  • Raphael Saadiq: So Ready
  • Earth, Wind & Fire: On Your Face
  • The Jacksons: Show You The Way To Go
  • Al Green: I'm Still In Love With You
  • B.B King: Heed My Warning
  • War: Why Can't We Be Friends
  • Rick James: Bustin' Out
  • 2 Men, A Drum Machine and A Trumpet: Tired of Getting Pushed Around
  • Funkadelic: (Not Just) Knee Deep
  • Earth, Wind & Fire: Love Music
  • Earth, Wind & Fire: Love's Holiday
  • Earth, Wind & Fire: Imagination
  • Earth, Wind & Fire: Yearnin' Learnin' (Live)
  • Minnie Ripperton: Les Fleur
  • Africano
  • Earth, Wind & Fire: Can't Let Go
  • All About Love (First Impression)
  • Shining Star
  • That's the Way of the World
  • Shining Star
  • Happy Feelin'
  • Reasons
  • Shirley Murdock: As We Lay
  • Erick Sermon: Stay Real
  • Earth, Wind & Fire: Boogie Wonderland
  • The Emotions: Don't Ask My Neighbors
  • Ramsey Lewis: Sun Goddess
  • The Randy Watson Experience & Bilal: Can't Hide Love
  • Nipsey Hussle: Hussle in the House
  • Nipsey Hussle: FOREVER ON SOME FLY SHIT
  • Nipsey Hussle: They Roll
  • Nipsey Hussle: Face the World
  • Nipsey Hussle: Shell Shocked
  • DJ Khaled: Higher

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

EP 98: Mark "Frosty" McNeill on Nina Simone's "It Is Finished" (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Mark McNeill

The Album: Nina Simone It Is Finished (1974)

It Is Finished is an ominous title, least of all given where Nina Simone was in her personal life at the time. Much of the early ‘70s had seen the High Priestess of Soul escaping to Barbados, first to avoid a troubled marriage, then to avoid the IRS. But RCA Records lured her back to New York to tape a live show, much of which would go into It Is Finished alongside a few tracks from an earlier studio session. One of those vault cuts, “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter” would become an unlikely hit on the funk/soul dance floor circuit but It Is Finished was far more than one-tracker, especially as Simone dipped into Afro-Caribbean spirituality via the (under-credited) participation of Exuma on much of this album. Our guest, Mark “Frosty” McNeill is the co-founder of the long-running Dublab internet (now terrestrial) radio station and together, we got deep into Nina’s public and personal tribulations of that era, how the album reflects a particular moment in black cultural identity and a spirited debate about Tina vs. Nina.

More on Mark McNeill

More on It Is Finished

Show Tracklisting (all songs from It Is Finished unless indicated otherwise):

  • Obeah Woman
  • Nina Simone: Wild Is The Wind
  • Nina Simone: See Line Woman (Masters at Work Remix)
  • To Love Somebody
  • Nina Simone: Revolution (Live at the Harlem Cultural Festival)
  • Mr. Bojangles
  • Kumbaya (earliest known recording)
  • Walter Hawkins: Come By Here Good Lord
  • Com' By H'Yere Good Lord
  • Exuma: Mama Loi, Papa Loi
  • Ike and Tina Turner: Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter
  • Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter
  • Let It Be Me
  • Elvis: Let It Be Me
  • I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl
  • Obeah Woman
  • Esther Phillips: Home is Where the Hatred Is
  • Ganga and Hess OST: Survival Drive
  • Exuma: Exuma, The Obeah Man

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

EP97: Summer Spectacular feat. Quetzal (redux)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Quetzal

The Albums:

Note: This is a rerun of an episode from 2018 that has been re-edited and remastered.

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 2017'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: Olokun y Yemayá
  • Alé Kumá: Las Olas De La Mar
  • Alé Kumá: Volá Pajarito
  • Alé Kumá: ¿Por Qué Me Pegá?
  • Alé Kumá:Oiaymeló
  • Mary J Blige: Love No Limit
  • Mary J Blige: Slow Down
  • Mary J Blige: Reminisce
  • Mary J Blige: Sweet Thing
  • Mary J Blige: What's the 411?
  • Mary J Blige: Leave a Message
  • Mary J Blige: I'll Do 4 U
  • Mary J Blige: You're All I Need
  • Mary J Blige: I Don't Want to Do Anything
  • The Smiths: Sheila Take a Bow
  • The Smiths: Shoplifters of the World Unite
  • The Smiths: Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want
  • The Smiths: Half a Person
  • The Smiths: Panic
  • Kendrick Lamar: Momma
  • Kendrick Lamar: You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)
  • Kendrick Lamar: Alright
  • Kendrick Lamar: These Walls
  • Kendrick Lamar: i

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

EP 96: Jimetta Rose on Rufus & Chaka Khan's "From Rags to Rufus" (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jimetta Rose

The Album: Rufus & Chaka Khan From Rags to Rufus (1974)

Los Angeles soul singer, Jimetta Rose, has been making music for a long time, working with artists like Talib Kweli, Meshell Ndgeocello, and Shuggie Otis. Her velvety smooth vocals and thoughtful writing made her a force of nature in the LA music scene, bodying anything from R&B to jazz, to rap, and so much more.

Jimetta was on a journey, searching for a Chaka Khan dance record, and on her way there, found the funk. Jimetta sat down with us to talk Rufus and Chaka Khan's "From Rags to Rufus." We discussed the origins of Rufus and their transition to funk, the impact Chaka had on the band, and why her voice resonates with women from all walks of life, including a young Jimetta Rose.

More on Jimetta Rose

More on From Rags to Rufus

Show Tracklisting (all songs from From Rags to Rufus unless indicated otherwise):

  • I Got The Right Street (But The Wrong Direction)
  • Chaka Khan: I Know You, I Live You
  • Chaka Khan: Stop On By
  • Chaka Khan: So Not to Worry
  • Donna Summer: Dinner With Gershwin
  • Ray Parker Jr.: You Can't Change That
  • Eddie Kendricks: Girl You Need A Change Of Mind
  • You Got The Love
  • Rags to Rufus
  • The American Breed: Bend Me, Shape Me
  • Walkin' In The Sun
  • In Love We Grow
  • Sly5thAve: Let Me Ride
  • The Golden Gate Quartet: Swing Down Chariot
  • Swing Down Chariot
  • Walkin' In The Sun
  • Swing Down Chariot
  • Smokin' Room
  • Tell Me Something Good
  • Prince: I Feel For You
  • Chaka Khan: I Feel For You
  • Ain't Nothin' But A Maybe
  • Sideways
  • Smokin' Room

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

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

EP95: David Ma on GZA's "Liquid Swords" (1995)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
David Ma

The Album: GZA Liquid Swords (1995)

Music journalist David Ma has been in the game for a long time, writing for The Guardian, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The Source, and many, many others. He's also the host of Dad Bod Rap Pod, a hip-hop roundtable discussion show from the Bay area. When he told us he wanted to talk about GZA's debut solo effort, Liquid Swords, we knew we were in for a good conversation.
We talk about GZA's new jack swing beginnings, his role within the Wu-Tang Clan, and his seemingly endless vocabulary. Even within the Wu's solo efforts, Liquid Swords stands out, with its gritty production, complex lyricism, and hard-hitting flow. It stood the test of time and still bounces, Shogun Assassin samples included.

More on David Ma

More on Liquid Swords

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Liquid Swords unless indicated otherwise):

  • I Gotcha Back
  • Liquid Swords
  • Wu-Tang Clan: 7th Chamber - Part II - Conclusion
  • GZA: Come Do Me
  • Swordsman
  • Gold
  • Raekwon: Ice Cream
  • Method Man: I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need
  • Notorious BIG: The What
  • Shadowboxin'
  • Dr. Dre: Stranded on Death Row
  • Liquid Swords
  • Willie Mitchell: Groovin'
  • Liquid Swords
  • Cannonball Adderly: Aries
  • Gold
  • Ann Peebles: Trouble, Heartaches, & Sadness
  • Shadowboxin'
  • Gold
  • 4th Chamber
  • Labels
  • B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)
  • The Genius: Feel the Pain
  • Wu-Tang Clan: Clan In Da Front

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

EP94: Gavin Turek on Carole King's "Tapestry" (1971)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Gavin Turek

The Album: Carole King Tapestry (1971)

LA singer songwriter Gavin Turek's relationship with Carole King's Tapestry album began in her childhood, listening to her father play virtually every song featured on the piano. He taught her the notes, the chords, the vocals until the earth moved under her feet and made her a die hard fan.

She joined Heat Rocks to discuss what made this album fire, the west coast leanings of Tapestry, Carole's lyrical approach to the realness of relationships and why having a cat featured on your cover art is lit and progressive.

There are so many heaters on this album, she had four favorites. Listen in and you'll understand why.

More on Gavin Turek

More on Tapestry

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

  • Way Over Yonder
  • Gavin Turek: Frontline (TOKiMONSTA Remix)
  • I Feel the Earth Move
  • (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
  • Aretha Franklin: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
  • So Far Away
  • Smackwater Jack
  • Tapestry
  • It's Too Late
  • Carole King: Locomotion
  • Will You Love Me Tomorrow
  • The Shirelles: Will You Love Me Tomorrow
  • Donny Hathaway: You've Got A Friend
  • Aretha Franklin: Medley: Precious Lord, Take My Hand/ You've Got A Friend
  • So Far Away
  • Gary Portnoy: Cheers Theme
  • Where You Lead
  • Where You Lead (Gilmore Girls version)
  • Joni Mitchell: California
  • Tracy Chapman: Fast Cars

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

EP93: Art of Sampling #2 with Thes One on Nas's Illmatic (1994)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Thes One

The Album: Nas Illmatic (1994)

In our first episode from our four-part Art of Sampling series, we focused on one of the classic sources of samples from the mid-80s: the James Brown anthology, In the Jungle Groove. For #2, we wanted to turn our attention to an album whose use of samples helped influences sampling culture and for that, we went with a giant celebrating its 25th anniversary this year: Nas's debut album, Illmatic.

So much has been said about this LP over the years, we shouldn’t need to make a case for it but here’s the short version: it’s not simply considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time but it’s universally lauded as one of the greatest debut albums in any genre, least of all given the intense hype around Nas leading up to it. Befitting that anticipation, Illmatic drew, really for the first time, a Dream Team-esque assemblage of some of New York’s finest producers including Q-Tip, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor and L.E.S. Their production decisions, including the samples that powered their now iconic tracks, marked one peak in hip-hop’s golden era of sample-based production.

To help us break all this down, we invited one of Los Angeles’s finest: Thes One, half of People Under the Stairs (and composer of our theme song!) While Thes generally doesn’t like talking about other producers’ work, as a 16 year old hip-hop head hyped for Illmatic when it dropped in ’94, Thes brought his insights as both a producer and fan, and we touched on everything from the use of nostalgia in sample choices, how Nas’s flow worked with different beats, and why DJ Premier’s “bubba chip” drum programming was a game changer.

More on Thes One

More on Illmatic

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

  • The Genesis
  • N.Y. State of Mind
  • Michael Jackson: Human Nature
  • It Ain't Hard to Tell
  • It Ain't Hard to Tell (Demo)
  • DJ Day: It Ain't Hard to Tell (Remix)
  • Large Professor: It Ain't Hard to Tell (Remix)
  • Common: Resurrection
  • Memory Lane (Sittin' in da Park)
  • Parliament: Come in Out of the Rain
  • One Love
  • One Time 4 Your Mind
  • The Gap Band: Yearning for Your Love
  • Life's a Bitch
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Lyrics to Go
  • Represent
  • Lee Erwin: Thief of Bagdad
  • Represent
  • Cameo: Hanging Downtown
  • Group Home: Supa Star
  • The Heath Brothers: Smilin' Billy Suite Pt. II
  • One Love
  • The World Is Yours
  • Ahmad Jamal: I Love Music
  • The World Is Yours
  • Monty Alexander: Love and Happiness
  • Apache: Gangsta Bitch
  • The Beatnuts: Let Off A Couple
  • Reuben Wilson: We're In Love
  • Memory Lane (Sittin' in da Park)
  • N.Y. State of Mind
  • Halftime
  • Milly and Silly: Gettin' Down for Xmas
  • Long Red: Mountain (Live)
  • Pete Rock and CL Smooth: Good Life
  • Represent
  • Jay-Z: Feelin' It
  • Main Source: Looking at the Front Door

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

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

EP92: Kier Lehman on Steely Dan's Aja (1977)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Kier Lehman

The Album: Steely Dan Aja (1977)

If you love the music on Insecure, you'll love the fact that Heat Rocks had an opportunity to sit down with the brainchild behind in. Kier Lehman, well known for his work on Insecure, Spiderman Spiderverse, Being Mary Jane, Entourage, Love Is, sat down with us to talk about the seminal 1977 album that is a tastemakers dream and beloved across generations.

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen and 36 of the best and brightest musicians and vocalists in the business assembled on the west coast to produce seven tracks which dripped with jazz, rock, punk, soul and fire!

Music writers and critics across publication and decades all agree that Aja is a masterpiece and belongs in the canon of great albums.

What happens when two music supes sit down to unpack it? Tune in to find out.

More on Kier Lehman

More on Aja

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

  • I Got The News
  • Aja
  • Peg
  • Home At Last
  • Black Cow
  • Deacon Blues
  • Aja
  • Josie
  • Wiz Khalifa: Old Chanel
  • Peg
  • De La Soul: Eye Know
  • Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz: Uptown Baby
  • Black Cow
  • MF DOOM: Gas Drawls
  • Steely Dan: Kid Charlamagne
  • Kanye West: Champion
  • Aja
  • Home at Last
  • I Got The News
  • Peg

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

EP91: Comeback Albums and Mailbag Special

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Show: 
Heat Rocks

We here at Heat Rocks took a break from recording episodes in order to recharge our batteries. We thought we'd celebrate our return with an episode partly dedicated to our favorite comeback albums.
In the second half, we rummage through the Heat Rocks mailbag and answer listener questions about great debut albums, summer jams, the weirdest record sleeve finds, and more!

Show Tracklisting:

  • Mariah Carey: Butterfly
  • Dr. Buzzards Original Savannah Band: Cherchez la Femme/ Se Si Bon
  • Mariah Carey: Breakdown
  • LL Cool J: Mama Said Knock You Out
  • LL Cool J: Milky Cereal
  • Jay-Z: December 4th
  • Jay-Z: Dirt Off Your Shoulders
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Black Spasmodic
  • A Tribe Called Quest: We The People...
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Solid Wall of Sound
  • D'Angelo: Send It On
  • D'Angelo: Devil's Pie
  • Brandy: Brokenhearted
  • Joe Budden: Pump It Up
  • Young Gunz: Friday Night
  • Jay-Z: Show Me What You Got
  • The Rebirth: This Journey In
  • The Internet: Wanna Be
  • Missy Elliott: Sock It 2 Me
  • Digable Planets: Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)
  • Digable Planets: Black Ego
  • Prince: Diamond and Pearls
  • Cissy Houston: Warning - Danger
  • Floyd Anckle: Hey Pocky A-Way
  • Johnny Nash: Cupid
  • Chaka Khan: Caught in the Act
  • Skye: Aint No Need

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

EP90: Prince Special

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Anil Dash
Guests: 
Meshell Ndegeocello
Guests: 
Illa J

The Albums: 

Hard to believe but Prince's landmark album Purple Rain turns 35 years this week (and the Purple One himself would have just celebrated his 61st birthday last week). In honor of these milestones and the fact that Prince is one of Heat Rocks' Triple Crown winners (i.e. his albums have been featured three times so far), we decided to offer you a "Best of Prince" episode that splices together highlights from our previous three Prince eps:

Show Tracklisting (all songs by Prince unless indicated otherwise):

  • When You Were Mine
  • Dirty Mind
  • Controversy
  • Sister
  • Partyup
  • Sister
  • Dirty Mind
  • When You Were Mine
  • Head
  • D'Angelo: She's Always In My Hair
  • Gotta Broken Heart Again
  • D.M.S.R.
  • Little Red Corvette
  • Let's Pretend We're Married
  • 1999
  • Little Red Corvette
  • Lady Cab Driver
  • All The Critics Love U in New York
  • Lady Cab Driver
  • Let's Go Crazy
  • For You
  • When Doves Cry
  • I Would Die 4 U
  • Let's Go Crazy
  • Computer Blue
  • The Beautiful Ones
  • When Doves Cry
  • Purple Rain
  • Housequake
  • Let's Go Crazy

Shout out to our Producer Supreme, Christian Duenas, for doing the edit work on this episode and if you enjoyed the highlights, be sure to download and listen to the entire episodes!