Heat Rocks

EP26: Jack Davey on Digable Planets' "Reachin'"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jack Davey

The album: Digable Planets: Reachin' (1993)

Miss Jack Davey's contribution to LA's alternative soul scene began over a decade ago with her work as one half of the group J*Davey. Their debut project, "The Beauty In Distortion" a mix of punk, funk, synth and soul, was a must have for tastemakers and made a splash both in Los Angeles and around the world. When she's not writing songs and producing, she can be found at a myriad of cool spots around the city, spreading the good news of good music as a DJ and selector.
Davey wanted to get into Digable Planets' debut album, now celebrating its 25th anniversaryReachin' (a new refutation of time and space). Coming out at the height of hip-hop's love affair with jazz, Reachin' has been lauded as "an album about freedom—from convention, from oppression, from the limits imposed by the space-time continuum."
We had a chance to talk with Davey about Digable Planets' "Rebirth of Slick" and its cool factor, Brooklyn and its relationship to the album, Ladybug Mecca's butter voice, and what's it's like to be cool and not know it.

More on Reachin'

More on Jack Davey and J*Davey

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Reachin' unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Rebirth of Slick”
  • Georgia Anne Muldrow: Olesi: Fragments of an Earth “Wrong Way”
  • Sy Smith: The Syberspace Social “Aquarius Rising”
  • Sa-Ra: The Hollywood Recordings “Glorious”
  • Flying Lotus: Los Angeles “Roberta Flack (Feat Dolly)”
  • Dam-Funk: Toeachizown “Searching 4 Funk’s Future”
  • J*Davey: The Beauty in Distortion / The Land of the Lost “No More”
  • “La Femme Fetal”
  • Guru: Jazzmatazz “Loungin’”
  • Young Deciples: Road To Freedom “As We Come (To Be)”
  • “Jimmi Diggin Cats”
  • Digable Planets: Blowout Comb “Graffiti”
  • “Where I’m From”
  • Fugees: The Score “Fu-Gee-La”
  • UTD: Manifest Destiny “Manifest Destiny”
  • “What Cool Breezes Do”
  • “Last of the Spiddyocks”
  • “Swoon Units”
  • “Escapism (Getting Free)”
  • “Nickel Bags”
  • E-40: My Ghetto Report Card “Yay Area”
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

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”

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

Heat Rocks, EP 14: Bosco on Erykah Badu's "Mama's Gun"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Bosco

The album: Erykah Badu: Mama's Gun (Motown, 2000)

Bosco was an artist that Morgan knew, from jump, she wanted to get on the show. A Savannah native who's now an L.A. transplant (by way of Atlanta), Bosco's been steady climbing the ranks in the music game and has had a breakout year in 2017, especially wiht the release of her full-length, b.

For her pick, Bosco wanted to revisit one of the formative albums that shaped her imagination as a kid: Erykah Badu's sophomore album: Mama's Gun. If Baduizm helped put Badu on the map, Mama's Gun - which was produced by the same Soulquarian team also working on D'Angelo's Voodoo and Common's Like Water For Chocolate - firmly established her as the preeminent queen of what was then called neo-soul and these days seems better described as future soul. Our conversation touched on many aspects of how Badu and her sound landed on people's ears back at the turn of the century and how it continues to reverberate today.

More on Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun

More on Bosco

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Mama's Gun unless indicated otherwise):

  • ”Bag Lady”
  • Bosco: b. “Castles”
  • Erykah Badu: Baduizm “Apple Tree”
  • ”Other Side Of The Game”
  • The Roots: Things Fall Apart “You’ve Got Me ft. Erykah Badu and Jill Scott Live”
  • Res: How I Do “How I Do”
  • ”Cleva”
  • SZA: Ctrl “Normal Girl”
  • ”Time’s A Wastin”
  • ”…&On”
  • ”Didn’t Cha Know”
  • Bosco: b. “Free”
  • ”Penitentiary Philosophy”
  • ”A.D. 2000”
  • ”Orange Tree”
  • …&On
  • ”Kiss Me ON My Neck”
  • ”Booty”
  • ”Green Eyes”
  • ”In Love With You Ft. Stephen Marley”
  • Erykah Badu: “I’ve Been Going Through it All”
  • ”Orange Tree”
  • …&On
  • ”Kiss Me ON My Neck”
  • ”Booty”
  • ”Green Eyes”
  • ”In Love With You Ft. Stephen Marley”
  • Erykah Badu: Erykah Badu “Amerykahn Promise”

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

EP12: "The Prequel Episode" feat. Loren Kajikawa on Dr. Dre's "The Chronic"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Loren Kajikawa

The album: Dr. Dre: The Chronic (Interscope, 1992)

This is a special "prequel" episode, originally taped in December of 2016. Back then, Heat Rocks was just a mere glint in the eye Morgan and Oliver. All we had was a basic concept: how about a podcast devoted to doing deep dives into an album? We invited Univ. of Oregon musicologist Loren Kajikawa, author of Sounding Race In Rap Songsto help us tackle one of the most important albums of the last 25 years: Dr. Dre's The Chronic, which just so happens to celebrate its 25th release anniversary today (hence why we timed to put it out now).

For our listeners, you'll notice that while this episode shares some familiar aspects with our regular Heat Rocks shows, there are some differences. For one, we hadn't come up with our format yet, especially in having our guests pick a hot track, sleeper jam, etc. We had also toyed with a little "Context" section - complete with its own jingle! - that we eventually abandoned because it was superfluous (Oliver did have fun making the jingle though). But overall, we think you can easily see the seed of Heat Rocks even in this very early attempt. Hope you all enjoy it and we're so happy to finally share this, one year later.

More on Dr. Dre's The Chronic:

More on Loren Kajikawa

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Chronic unless indicated otherwise):

  • Fuck Wit Dre Day
  • Nuthin' But a G Thang
  • Leon Haywood: I Want To Do Something Freaky To You
  • Public Enemy: Bring Da Noise
  • Above the Law: Livin' Like Hustlers
  • Let Me Ride
  • The Roach
  • NWA: Niggaz 4 Life (From Efil4zaggin)
  • Lyrical Gangbang (feat. Lady of Rage and Kurupt)
  • Stranded On Death Row (feat. Kurupt and Snoop Dogg)
  • Rat-A-Tat-Tat
  • Dr. Dre: Deep Cover (feat. Snoop Dogg, from Deep Cover OST)
  • Tupac and Snoop Dogg: Amerikaz Most Wanted
  • The Day the Niggaz Took Over
  • Bitches Ain't Shit

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

Heat Rocks, EP 7: Anil Dash on Prince's "1999" (1982)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Anil Dash

The album: Prince: 1999 (Warner Bros., 1982)

This week, we are joined by Anil Dash, the tech entrepreneur and activist whose love for The Purple One is legendary. He takes us into the Heat Rocks deep dive for Prince's 1999, the album that marked his new wave turn. All three of us share tales of our older family members being scandalized by the sexy-sexiness on the album. Mmmmmm...spicy. 

More on Prince and 1999:

More on Anil Dash:

Show Tracklisting:

  • Prince: 1999 "1999"
  • Prince: 1999 "Delirious"
  • Prince: 1999 "D.M.S.R."
  • Michael Jackson Thriller "Thriller"
  • Prince: 1999 "Little Red Corvette"
  • Prince: 1999 "Lady Cab Driver"
  • Prince: 1999 "Something in the Water"
  • Prince: 1999 "Free"
  • Prince: 1999 "All The Critics Love U in New York"

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

Heat Rocks, EP4: Shea Serrano on DMX's "It's Dark and Hell Is Hot" (1998)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Shea Serrano

The album: DMX: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot (Def Jam, 1998)

This week, we are joined by Shea Serrano, contributor at TheRinger.com, author of both The Rap Yearbook and the brand new Basketball (And Other Things). For his heat rock, he choose DMX's smash debut LP, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot. *woof*

During our conversation, we learned how it was Shea's grandmother, of all people, who introduced him to DMX and how that album became the formative soundtrack for him as a teenager. Shea drops wisdom nuggets on the nature of pain in DMX's persona and how this album marked a repudiation of the direction hip-hop was headed in during the jiggy era.

More on DMX and It's Dark and Hell Is Hot:

More on Shea Serrano:

Show Tracklisting:

  • DMX: "Get At Me Dog" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • Mase: "Feel So Good" Money Talks
  • DMX: "Fucking With My Dogs" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX: "Catching The Same Hell"
  • DMX: "Look Thru My Eyes" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX: "Ruff Ryders Anthem" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX: "Prayer" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX Feat. Eve "Dog Match" Let There Be Eve...Ruff Ryders First Lady
  • DMX "Crime Story" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX "For My Dogs" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • 50 Cent "Wanksta"
  • Mase "24 Hours To Live" Harlem World
  • DMX "How's It Goin Down" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot

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


11-2-17 Update!

In our episode, I (Oliver) credited the album for helping introduce Swizz Beats to the wider world. That's true insofar as "The Ruff Ryders Anthem" was one of Swizz's first big hits. However, it's the only song on the entire album that Swizz worked on. Most of the album was produced by Dame Grease and P.K. and in my haste, I didn't do my proper discographic research to give credit where it was properly due.

Heat Rocks, EP3: Ann Powers on Madonna's "Like a Prayer" (1989)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Ann Powers

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:

  • Madonna: "Like A Prayer" Like A Prayer
  • Madonna: "Like A Virgin" Like A Virgin
  • Madonna: "Till Death Do Us Part" Like A Prayer
  • Madonna: "Express Yourself" Like A Prayer
  • Madonna: "Act Of Contrition" Like A Prayer
  • Madonna: "Love Song" Like A Prayer
  • Prince: "Computer Blue" Purple Rain
  • Madonna: "Cherish" Like A Prayer
  • Madonna: "Dear Jessie" Like A Prayer
  • Madonna: "Promise To Try" Like A Prayer
  • Madonna: "Keep It Together" Like A Prayer

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

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

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
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)

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

Heat Rocks, EP 1: Joi on Betty Davis' "They Say I'm Different"

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Betty Davis/Joi
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Joi Gilliam

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

This was one the pilot episodes we recorded in the spring 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:

  • Betty Davis: They Say I'm Different
  • Joi: Freedom (Pendulum Vibe, 1994)
  • Betty Davis: Git In There
  • Brides of Funkenstein: Party Up In Here (12", 1979)
  • Vicki Anderson: Message From the Soul Sisters (7", 1974)
  • Betty Davis: 70s Blues
  • Betty Davis: Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him
  • Ice Cube: Once Upon a Time in the Projects (AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, 1990)
  • Betty Davis: He Was a Big Freak
  • Joi: If I'm In Luck, I Might Get Picked Up (Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome, 1996)
  • Betty Davis: Don't Call Her No Tramp

Get to Know Heat Rocks Host Morgan Rhodes!

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Maximum Fun's newest show Heat Rocks debuts on Tuesday, October 3rd! Yesterday, you learned a little bit about host Oliver Wang. Today, we'll introduce you to host Morgan Rhodes!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I've been a music supervisor for five years and in radio for ten, both as a music programmer/DJ and as a music critic. I'm currently working on Season 2 of Dear White People which airs in the spring of 2018. I love working around music.

What led you to create Heat Rocks?

I'm so talkative when it comes to music so initially I thought about having a show where Oliver and I talk about the songs and albums we love. Then I thought it might be interesting to create space for artists and scholars to be generous, to speak well of other peoples work. It's been incredibly rewarding listening to artists and scholars we are fans of wax poetic about their personal heat rocks.

What are you most excited for people to hear on the show?

I'm most excited for people to be as surprised as Oliver and I have been at the albums our guests have chosen. Their heat rocks have been wonderful surprises.

What's one thing that's surprised you about the process of making this podcast?

I had no idea Maximum Fun's studio was so cool. It is small but mighty!

What's your personal heat rock?

Wow. How much time do you have?

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