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.)

Meanwhile, you can also follow us at any of the following:

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”

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EP23: DJ Monalisa on D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar" (1995)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Monalisa

The album: D'Angelo: Brown Sugar (1995)

DJ Monalisa Murray is an O.G. on the L.A. scene, having made the transition from working in marketing and promotion for record labels to working for herself as one of the Southland's premier selectors, down with everyone from Umoja Hi-Fi Soundsystem, to Footlong Development, to the KPL All-Stars. For her album choice, she wanted to spin us back to the emergence of D'Angelo and his debut album, Brown Sugar. We talked about how D'Angelo struck a different note than R&B in that era, how his style played to and against hip-hop, and just what exactly "brown sugar" refers to. Spicy. 

More on D'Angelo and Brown Sugar

More on DJ Monalisa

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Brown Sugar unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Brown Sugar”
  • “Jonez In My Bones”
  • Billy Preston: Music is my Life “Will it Go Round in Circles”
  • ”Cruisin
  • D’Angelo: Voodoo “Feel Like Making Love”
  • ”Me And Those Dreaming Eyes of Mine”
  • J Dilla: A.K.A. J. Yancey “Me And Those Dreaming Eyes of Mine [Remix]”
  • ”Shit, Damn, Motherfucker”
  • ”When We Get By”
  • ”Alright”
  • Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers “Brown Sugar”
  • D’Angelo: “She’s Always In My Hair”
  • D’Angelo: Black Messiah “Really Love”

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

Live Taping of Heat Rocks as part of The Voyager Institute - FREE!

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Date: 
03/03/2018 - 16:00 - 18:00
Show: 
City: 
Los Angeles, CA
Venue Name: 
Resident

428 S Hewitt St
Los Angeles, California 90013

Heat Rocks will be doing a live show as part of The Voyager Institute: a lecture series on movies and music. FREE-ADMISSION, RSVP here.

The show includes:

A live taping of Heat Rocks on the topic of Michael Jackson's HIStory, featuring special guest Justin Simien of "Dear White People.

The Search For "The Weirdest Band In The World" (presented by Andy Hermann and Rico Gagliano).

The Maysles Brothers' TV Commercials (presented by Sean Savage, Academy Film Archive)

EP22: Ishmael Butler on Lightnin' Rod's "Hustlers Convention" (1973)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Ishmael Butler

The album: Lightnin' Rod: Hustlers Convention (1973)

Ishmael Butler aka Butterfly of Digable Planets aka one-half of Shabazz Palaces joined us to take us on a trip back to the blaxploitation era and one of the greatest soundtracks-in-search-of-a-movie: Hustlers Convention, the spoken word/funk album by Jalal Nuriddin of The Last Poets. Backed up musicians that included Kool and the Gang, Eric Gale and others, Hustlers Convention took listeners on a trip into the world of pimps, players, police and other street characters in a vivid, cinematic story that would go onto inspire rappers the world over.

More on Lightnin' Rod and Hustlers Convention

More on Ishmael Butler

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Hustler's Conventionunless indicated otherwise):

  • ”Sport”
  • Digable Planets: Reaching’”The Rebirth of Slick”
  • Curtis Mayfield: Superfly “Superfly”
  • ”Hamhock’s Hall Wa Big”
  • ”Spoon”
  • ”The Shit Hits The Fan Again”
  • ”The Break Was So Loud It Hushed The Crowd”
  • ”Sentenced To The Chair”
  • ”Brother Hominy Grit”
  • Shabazz Palace: Lese Majesty “Forerunner Foray”
  • Dr. Dre: Deep Cover “Deep Cover Feat. Snoop Dogg”
  • Raekwon: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”Heaven & Hell”

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

Heat Rocks EP21: Pharoahe Monch on Main Source's "Breaking Atoms" (1991)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Pharoahe Monch

The album: Main Source: Breaking Atoms (1991)

MC extraordinaire Pharoahe Monch was no stranger to the trio known as Main Source (Large Professor + DJs K-Cut and Sir Scratch) back in the early '90s: Monch and Large Professor came up under the tutelage of the same mentor: producer Paul C. Though C was tragically murdered in 1989, both his proteges would go onto have banner years in '91 as Large Professor saw Main Source's Breaking Atoms released to critical fanfare while Monch enjoyed the same just a couple of months later when he and Prince Po released their debut, self-titled LP as Organized Konfusion.

Monch sat down with us to talk about the experience of buying Breaking Atoms on tape from Hot Waxx in Queens and having it blow his mind on that first listen as well as what he's learned from the album in the 25+ years since. Listen to this episode live at your BBQ...

More on Main Source and Breaking Atoms

More on Pharoahe Monch

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Breaking Atoms unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Large Professor”
  • Pharoahe Monch: Internal Affairs “Simon Says”
  • “Vamos A Rapiar”
  • “Looking At The Front Door”
  • “Just A Friendly Game Of Baseball”
  • Lou Donaldson: Pretty Things Pot Belly”
  • “Just Hanging Out”
  • The Honeydrippers: "Impeach The President"
  • Sister Nancy: One, Two “Bam Bam”
  • Jesse Anderson: Thomas “Mighty Mighty”
  • “Peace Is Not The Word To Play”
  • “He Got So Much Soul”
  • Bob James: One “Nautilus”

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

Heat Rocks, EP20: King on Outkast's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
King

The album: Outkast: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)

The Grammy nominated ladies of King are Anita Bias alongside sisters Amber and Paris Strother and it seems only right to have a super-sized guest talk about a super-sized album: Outkast's massive double LP from 2003: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Amongst other topics, we talked about how each of the three women first crossed paths with Outkast, what the group meant for the rise of the South in the 1990s, and revisited the endless debate over whether this as an Outkast album or a pair of Big Boi/Andre 3000 solo albums packaged together.

More on Outkast and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

More on King

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Speakerboxxx/The Love Below unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Ghetto Musick”
  • KING: The Story “The Story”
  • KING: The Story “Supernatural”
  • Outkast: ATLiens “Elevators (Me & You)”
  • “My Favorite Things”
  • “Reset”
  • “Where Are My Panties”
  • Outkast: Aquemini “Spottieottiedopalicious”
  • Dungeon Family: Even In Darkness “Trans DF Express”
  • “Pink & Blue”
  • “Prototype”
  • “Unhappy”
  • “Tomb of the Boom”
  • “Church”
  • “Knowing”
  • “The Rooster”
  • “She Live In My Lap”
  • “Draculas Wedding”
  • “Hey Ya!”
  • “Love Hater”
  • “Happy Valentines Day”
  • “Take Off Your Cool”
  • “A Day IN The Life of Benjamin Andre (Incomplete)”
  • “Spread”

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

Heat Rocks, EP 19: Bardo Martinez on Eugene McDaniels' "Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse" (1971)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Bardo Martinez

The album: Eugene McDaniels: Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse (1971)

When we approached Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman, we figured he'd go with a left-field album choice and he did not disappoint. Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse was a cult LPs for years, one of the most overtly political albums of the entire '70s (least of all on Atlantic Records!) and might have been wholly forgotten if not for '90s hip-hop producers rediscovering it and using it as sample fodder. However, all groovy groove aside, Headless Heroes is also an astonishing album in regards to McDaniels' explicit politics regarding everything from the U.S. treatment of Native Americans to blue eyed minstrels to Watergate. It was supposedly blacklisted by no less than the Vice President of the U.S. (Spiro Agnew). As Chicano Batman are no strangers to merging message and music, it was the perfect LP for Bardo and us to dig into, least of all in this current political moment.

More on Eugene McDaniels and Headless Heroes

More on Bardo Martinez and Chicano Batman

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Headless Heroes unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Jagger The Dagger”
  • Chicano Batman: “Freedom is Free” Freedom Is Free
  • “The Parasite”
  • “Supermarket Blues”
  • “Lovin Man”
  • John Lennon: “Instant Karma”
  • Gene McDaniels: “Tower of Strength” Tower of Strength
  • Eddie Harris & Les McCann: “Compared to What” Swiss Movement
  • Eugene McDaniels: “Cherrystones” Outlaw
  • “Susan Jane”
  • “Freedom Death Dance”
  • Eddie Harris: “Freedom Jazz Dance” The In Sound
  • “The Lord Is Back”

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

EP18: Frannie Kelley on TLC's "CrazySexyCool" (1994)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Frannie Kelley

The album: TLC's CrazySexyCool (1994)

Frannie Kelley, alongside Ali Shaheed Muhammed, hosts the Microphone Check podcast and when we invited her onto our show, she wanted to talk about one of her formative musical experiences as a teenager: TLC's sophomore album, CrazySexyCool. The three of us talked about how TLC shaped adolescent ideas about sexuality and femininity, how the group repped the hip-hop South at a time when that was just becoming to be recognized nationally, and how the group had one of the more underrated liner notes font game going on.

More on TLC's CrazySexyCool

More on Frannie Kelley

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

  • “Intro-Lude”
  • “Red Light Special”
  • Brandy: Waiting To Exhale “Sittin Up In My Room”
  • Brandy: Brandy “I Wanna Be Down”
  • “Switch”
  • “Waterfalls”
  • “Something Wicked This Way Comes”
  • “Sexy(Interlude)”
  • “Can I Get A Witness (Interlude)”
  • “If I Was Your Girlfriend”
  • Prince: Sign ‘O’ The Times “If I was Your Girlfriend”
  • “Creep”
  • “Diggin On You”
  • “Take Our Time”
  • TLC: FanMail “No Scrubs”

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

Heat Rocks EP17: Vernon Reid on Jimi Hendrix's "Band of Gypsys" (1970)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Vernon Reid

The album: Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys (1970)

Vernon Reid is one of rock's greatest guitarists, having rising to stardom in the 1980s as a member of Living Colour. It's not surprising, therefore, that he'd choose an album by one of rock's other great guitarists: Jimi Hendrix and his final album, Band of Gypsys, recorded live at the Fillmore East and released in the spring of 1970. Reid gave us an amazing lesson into what exactly made Hendrix so brilliant, least of all on this album.

More on Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys

More on Vernon Reid

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Band of Gypsys unless indicated otherwise):

  • Message of Love
  • Jimi Hendrix on The Dick Cavett Show
  • Jimi Hendrix: Star Spangled Banner
  • Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced?
  • Machine Gun
  • Power to Love/Power of Soul
  • Who Knows
  • Them Changes
  • Living Colour: Power of Soul
  • Jimi Hendrix: Stop

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

Heat Rocks EP16: Bahamadia on the Kay-Gee's "Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan" (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Bahamadia

The album: The Kay-Gee's: Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan (Gang, 1974)

 

We invited Philly hip-hop star Bahamadia to join us and she kept things tri-state by picking the 1974 debut album by New Jersey's The Kay-Gee's, originally an off-shoot of Kool and the Gang. The Kay-Gee's may not be household names in the same manner as Kool and the Gang or the Ohio Players but especially on this debut, they cooked up an impressively diverse and surprisingly eclectic set of tracks that defy simple expectation. What other band ends their album with their own "greatest hits montage"?

More on the Kay-Gee's Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan

More on Bahamadia

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Who’s the Man (With The Master Plan)”
  • Bahamadia: Kollage “Wordplay”
  • The Trammps: Disco Inferno “Disco Inferno”
  • MFSB: Love Is The Message“Love Is The Message”
  • James Brown: Getting’ Down To It“Cold Sweat”
  • Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band:Express Yourself “Express Yourself”
  • Parliament: Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome “Flashlight”
  • “Wondering”
  • “My Favorite Song”
  • The Floaters: Float On “Float On”
  • Cameo: We All Know Who We Are “Why Have I Lost You”
  • “Aint No Time (pt 1)”
  • You’ve Got To Keep on Bumpin”
  • “Who’s The Man (With The Master Plan)”
  • Madlib and J-Dilla: Champion Sound Jaylib (The Official)
  • Tom Browne: Funkin For Jamaica “Funkin for Jamaica”
  • “Get Down”
  • “Anthology”
  • Double Dee and Stein: Lesson 3“History of Hip-Hop Mix”
  • “Hustle with Every Muscle”

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