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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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!

EP48: Tiffany Gouché on Destiny's Child's "The Writing's On the Wall" (1999)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Tiffany Gouché

The Album: Destiny's Child: The Writing's on The Wall (1999)

She sings about love and about longing. Hometown heroine and triple threat (singer/songwriter/producer) Tiffany Gouché (Inglewood, CA) sang her way into our playlists with silky smooth vocals and a production style that reminds us of R&B’s glory days in the 90s, mixed with the eclectic futuristic sound LA music has come to be known for.

She was, therefore, the perfect person to talk Destiny’s child platinum smash heatrock “The Writing’s On The Wall”.

We revisited an album that was full of anthems, an album that Tiffany experienced on cassette tape! Tiffany spoke to us about the layers of inspiration she got from this album as well as what made “Writing’s On The Wall” classic 90s R&B.

More on Tiffany Gouche

More on The Writing's on the Wall

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Writing's on the Wall unless indicated otherwise):

  • Say My Name
  • Bug A Boo
  • Tiffany Gouché: Dive
  • Commisioned and Fred Hammond: So Good to Know (The Savior)
  • Kim Burrell: Holy Ghost
  • Outro (Amazing Grace Dedicated to Andretta Tillman) 
  • Bills, Bills, Bills
  • Hey Ladies
  • Jumpin, Jumpin 
  • Beyonce: Love Drought 
  • Say My Name
  • Bills, Bills, Bills 
  • Usher: I Don't Know 
  • P!nk: There You Go
  • Confessions (feat. Missy Elliott)
  • Now That She's Gone
  • Bug A Boo
  • If You Leave (feat. Next)
  • Aretha Franklin: At Last - Let Me In Your Life Outtake
  • Aretha Franklin: Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I) 

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

EP47: Summer Spectacular feat. Quetzal

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Quetzal

The Albums: 

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 last year'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: Fig Pulp 
  • Alé Kumá: Vola Pajarito 
  • Alé Kumá: Por Que Me Pega 
  • Alé Kumá: Oiaymelo 
  • Mary J Blige: Love No Limit 
  • Mary J Blige: Reminisce 
  • Mary J Blige: Sweet Thing 
  • Mary J Blige: What's the 411 
  • Mary J Blige: I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By 
  • The Smiths: Sheila Take a Bow 
  • The Smiths: Shoplifters of the World Unite 
  • The Smiths: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now 
  • Kendrick Lamar: Hood Politics 
  • Kendrick Lamar: Alright 
  • Kendrick Lamar: King Kunta 
  • Kendrick Lamar: These Walls 
  • Kendrick Lamar: i 

Here is 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!

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!

EP44: Phil Yu on Boyz II Men's "II" (1994)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Phil Yu

The Album: Boyz II Men: II (1994)

Phil Yu is better known to most as Angry Asian Man...except that he isn't actually all that angry (though he is Asian and a man). Phil started his titular site nearly 20 years ago and since then, it has become an indispensable news resource about Asian American culture, politics and related issues. Phil, along with Jeff Yang, also hosts his own Asian American culture podcast, They Call Us Bruce.

Phil wanted to revisit one of the big hit albums of his youth: II by Boyz II Men. By '94, the group was already one of the biggest acts in all of R&B and expectations were beyond high for the follow-up. The quartet of crooners from Philly didn't disappoint as II continued the group's reign at the top, especially thanks to smooth ballads like "Water Runs Dry," "On Bended Knee" and of course, "I'll Make Love To You." (The three of us couldn't stop laughing when we were discussing the majesty that was the video for that single. Shout out to sexy finger wags. And if anyone knows the identity of the woman in the video, get @ us about it!).

More on Phil Yu

More on II

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

  • Thank You
  • I’ll Make Love To You
  • Damar Jackson: No Protection
  • Thank You
  • Boyz II Men: Motownphilly
  • LL Cool J: Hey Lover
  • Khalil
  • Yesterday
  • Water Runs Dry
  • On Bended Knee
  • I’ll Make Love to You
  • Sisqo: Thong Song

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

EP43: Jesse Thorn on The Coup's "Steal This Album" (1998)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jesse Thorn

The Album: The Coup: Steal This Album (1998)

Jesse Thorn, host of Bullseye and the MaximumFun podfather, has long been one of our biggest fans and we were delighted to have him come in to talk about one of his favorite albums: The Coup's stellar 1998 Steal This Album. 

The Coup, by then made up of Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress, had already established a reputation as one of hip-hop's most outspoken and unapologetically radical groups out there. Their 1993 debut, Kill My Landlord was a revelation. 1994's Genocide and Juice catapulted them onto the national stage. But by 1998, hip-hop's political era seemed distant in light of the era of jiggy rap yet in strode The Coup, resplendent in socialist ideas and that Oaktown funk, to mint a masterpiece devoted to defending the underdog and shedding light on the struggles of working class peoples.

More on Jesse Thorn

More on Steal This Album 

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Steal This Album  unless indicated otherwise):

  • Swervin
  • 20,000 Gun Salute
  • Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada
  • Digable Planets: 9th Wonder (Blackitolism)
  • Canibus: Second Round KO
  • Lauryn Hill: Doo-Wop (That Thing)
  • Jay-Z: Hard Knock Life
  • DMX: Ruff Ryders Anthem
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Da Booty
  • The Luniz: I Got Five on it (Remix)
  • The Repo Man Sings for You
  • Breathing Apparatus
  • Underdogs
  • Cars and Shoes
  • Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada
  • Busterismology
  • The Coup: Pork and Beef
  • Los Prisoneros: Tren al Sur
  • Prince: For You
  • Prince: I Would Die 4 U
  • Earl Sweatshirt: Balance
  • Foo Fighters: Darling Nikki
  • serpentwithfeet: fragrant
  • Pusha T: If You Know You Know
  • Teyana Taylor: Issues/ Hold On
  • Junglepussy: Trader Joe

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!

Ep 42: Meshell Ndgeocello on Prince's "Purple Rain"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Meshell Ndegeocello

The Album: Prince: Purple Rain (1984)

I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray. But when I woke up this morning and realized that Oliver and I spent an hour or so talking with Meshell N'degecello about Prince's seminal "Purple Rain" album, I was beside myself with hype.

We spoke about the album's forward thinking musicianship and arrangements, Prince as a visionary, his Messiah-like presence and the extended version of Computer Blue. She told us about keeping "I Would Die 4 U" on elevated decibels and repeat and the pure dopeness of "When Doves Cry".

We all revisited the moment we first experience Purple Rain.

Simply put, we talked to one genius guitar hero about another. It gets no better than that. Throw on your best purple garments and get up on this.

"Hey, take a listen. Tell me do you like what you hear..." -Prince

More on Prince and Purple Rain:

More on Meshell Ndegeocello:

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Purple Rain unless indicated otherwise):

  • Purple Rain
  • Prince: For You
  • Purple Rain
  • When Doves Cry
  • I Would Die 4 U
  • Let's Go Crazy
  • Take Me With U
  • Prince: I Wanna Be Your Lover
  • Computer Blue
  • I Would Die 4 U
  • The Beautiful Ones
  • When Doves Cry
  • D'Angelo: Alright
  • J Dilla: Bye.
  • Alice Smith: Fool For You
  • Flying Lotus: All the Secrets
  • Purple Rain
  • When Doves Cry
  • Take Me With U
  • Prince: Erotic City
  • The Ronettes: Be My Baby

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!

EP41: Star Spangled Banner Special

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Oliver Wang
Guests: 
Morgan Rhodes

The Song: Francis Scott Key's "Star-Spangled Banner" (1814)

For this July 4th week, Morgan and I wanted to do something special and tackle the Great American Heat Rock aka "The Star-Spangled Banner." As Oliver notes during the episode, this is both the oldest song that most Americans know (partly) by heart and the one that we'll hear the most versions of across our lifetimes. Some versions are transcendent. Some are historically groundbreaking. Some are by Fergie. Choose accordingly.

More about "The Star-Spangled Banner":

Show Tracklisting (all songs are renditions of The Star Spangled Banner  unless indicated otherwise):

  • The Anacreontic Song
  • Lady Gaga
  • Whitney Houston
  • Whitney Houston: I Will Always Love You
  • Whitney Houston
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Jose Feliciano
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Misissippi Mass Choir
  • Bleeding Gums Murphy from The Simpsons
  • Daryl Coley: When Sunday Comes
  • Fergie
  • Kim Weston: Lift Every Voice and Sing
  • Committed: Life Every Voice and Sing
  • Maze: Before I Let Go
  • New Order: Bizarre Love Triangle
  • New Order: Blue Monday
  • New Order: Bizarre Love Triangle
  • Whitney Houston

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

EP40: Benjamin Booker on William Onyeabor's "Who Is William Onyeabor?" (2013)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Benjmain Booker

The Album: William Onyeabor: Who Is William Onyeabor? (2013)

Benjamin Booker rocks.

His soulful blend of blues, rock soul and punk, together with hella honest lyrics and an inimitable voice has moved folks across his self titled debut and latest album Witness.

He joined us to talk about his discovery of Luaka Bop’s World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyeabor? It was love at first listen. He loved the moog and the drums, the minimalism and the disco elements.

He loved the message.

We talked about William Onyeabor's reclusiveness, foreshadowing in lyrics, African music across many genres and the coolness of a white cowboy hat.

More on William Onyeabor and Who is William Onyeabor :

More on Benjamin Booker:

  • Can We Get a Witnees (Stereogum)
  • Tiny Desk Concert (NPR)
  • Website

    Show Tracklisting (all songs from Who Is William Onyeabor?  unless indicated otherwise):

    • Atomic Bomb
    • Benjamin Booker: Witness
    • The Funkees: Akula Owu Onyeara
    • Benjamin Booker: Truth is Heavy
    • Body and Soul
    • Love is Blind
    • Anita Ward: Ring My Bell
    • Love is Blind
    • Heaven and Hell
    • Why Go to War
    • Something You Will Never Forget
    • Fantastic Man
    • Heaven and Hell
    • Good Name
    • New Order: Blue Monday
    • Benjamin Booker: Overtime
    • The Lidaju Sister: Life's Gone Down Low
    • Heaven and Hell
    • Let's Fall in Love
    • Why Go to War
    • Love is Blind
    • Fantastic Man

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!