hip-hop

EP63: G Yamazawa on Kanye West's "The College Dropout" (2004)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
G Yamazawa

The Album: Kanye West: College Dropout (2004)

Kanye has had a...not great year. From a public relations standpoint, it's been nothing short of a disaster. And yet...'Ye remains one of the most intriguing (if not also infuriating) pop acts we have, evinced to us by the fact that two different guests - rapper G Yamazawa and R&B legend Macy Gray - both asked to talk about Kanye West albums when they came on our show. By further coincidence, they came on the same day to tape which also happened to be the day of West's now-infamous Saturday Night Live appearance. West was also supposed to drop a new album that evening, Yandhi (spoiler alert: he didn't). Sufficed to say, all things pointed West that day, so much so that we were a little worried about releasing these episodes lest our listeners were suffering from too much Kanye fatigue.

And yet...both conversations (the Macy Gray episode, about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will drop next week) were so compelling that we couldn't help ourselves. This one, with Yamazawa, was especially great in revisiting the old Kanye, chop-up-the-soul Kanye of College Dropout, where the young producer-turned-rapper came firing out the gate, putting the hip-hop world on notice that "oh sh---, Kanye raps too?" For G Yamazawa, then a young'un growing up in Durham "North Cack," West made a huge impression with his humor, sly politics and of course, the beats. Yamazawa, now relocated to L.A., knows something about sliding between worlds as a former champion spoken word poet turned MC (peep his new Money Is Time album) and together, we discussed what it was like for all of us to discover West's new persona back then, his taste in samples, and what era of West we gravitate towards.

More on G Yamazawa

More on College Dropout

Show Tracklisting (all songs from College Dropout unless indicated otherwise):

  • The New Workout Plan
  • G Yamazawa: Drumma Some
  • Chaka Khan: Through the Fire
  • Through the Wire
  • Last Call
  • All Falls Down
  • Slow Jamz
  • Lil Jimmy Skit
  • Workout Plan
  • Spaceship
  • Little Brother: Slow it Down
  • Luther Vandross: A House Is Not A Home
  • Slow Jamz
  • Marvin Gaye: Distant Lover
  • Spaceship
  • The ARC Choir: Walk With Me
  • Jesus Walks
  • All Falls Down (Demo)
  • All Falls Down
  • Intro
  • Kanye West: Wake Up Mr. West
  • Breathe In Breathe Out
  • Jesus Walks
  • I'll Fly Away
  • Get Em High
  • Last Call
  • All Falls Down

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

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

EP61: Jeff Weiss on Drakeo the Ruler's "Cold Devil" (2017)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jeff Weiss

The Album: Drakeo the Ruler: Cold Devil (2017)

When we invited L.A. music writer Jeff Weiss to join us, he was adamant that there was only one release he wanted to talk about: Cold Devil, the full-length, acclaimed mixtape that the upstart Los Angeles rapper, Drakeo the Ruler, dropped nearly a year ago. Drakeo is part of the Stinc Team and is helping lead a wave of emergent talents that also includes 03 Greedo, Ketchy the Great and Ralfy the Plug.

The longtime writer behind The Passion of the Weiss music blog, Jeff has been championing Drakeo for several years now and in particular, he's written extensively on the rapper's tumultuous legal challenges, including first interviewing Drakeo when he was locked up. Our conversation touched on Drakeo's legal situation, the rapper's gift of slanguistic gab and the current state of West Coast rap music.

More on Jeff Weiss

More on Cold Devil

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Cold Devil unless indicated otherwise):

  • Out the Slums
  • Drakeo the Ruler: Mr. Get Dough
  • Big Banc Uchies
  • Flu Flamming
  • Ion Rap Beef
  • Red Tape, Yellow Tape
  • Flu Flamming
  • Neiman and Marcus Don't Know You
  • Flu Flamming
  • Out the Slums
  • Blamped

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

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

EP59, Women Behaving Badly #6. Evelyn McDonnell on Janelle Monae's "Dirty Computer" (2018)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Evelyn McDonnell

The Album: Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer (2018)

To close out our Women Behaving Boldly mini-series, we brought things all the way up to the present by tackling a 2018 album. Our guest, music writer and journalism professor Evelyn McDonnell wanted to talk about Atlanta's Janelle Monae and her recent LP, Dirty Computer.

Between her various alter egos and concept-driven albums, Monae's been a critic's darling since she first broke out ten years ago and the intervening decade hasn't dimmed her creative appeal a bit. Dirty Computer, and its accompany mini-movie of music videos, touches on many of Monae's favorite themes: sci-fi futures (some good, some not so good), fluid identities (including her own evolving sexuality), and some of the most soul/funk/rock/pop concoctions you can imagine.

If Monae's recent gem was a perfect capstone to our six weeks of Women Behaving Boldly, it was perfectly matched by the guest who chose it. McDonnell is one of the most accomplished music journalists of her generation, having previously written the books Queens of Noise, about the Runaways, Army of She, which is about Bjork, and Mamarama, which is about Evelyn herself.  Her latest is the massive anthology, Women Who Rock, a 400 page edited anthology that focuses on over 100 of the most important women in pop music history, written by many of our favorite writers including both Lynnee Denise and Ann Powers, both of whom also contributed to our Women Behaving Boldly series.

More on Evelyn McDonnell

More on Dirty Computer

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Dirty Computer unless indicated otherwise):

  • Make Me Feel
  • Janelle Monae: Sincerely, Jane
  • Janelle Monae: Tightrope
  • Pynk
  • I Like That
  • So Afraid
  • I Like That
  • Pynk
  • Aerosmith: Pink
  • Django Jane
  • Screwed
  • Make Me Feel
  • Americans
  • Don't Judge Me
  • The RH Factory: Poetry

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

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

EP58, Women Behaving Badly #5: Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Joan Morgan

The Album: Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
On August 25, 1998, Lauryn Hill, the breakout rapping/singing star from The Fugees released her first (and only) solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. On August 25, 2018, exactly 20 years later, the Heat Rocks crew invited author Joan Morgan to join us to talk about that album and her new book about that album, She Begat ThisCall it a happy coincidence, call it kismet but either way, call it an amazing conversation. 
It's difficult to overstate the singular importance of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This was a generation before artists like Drake made singing + rapping into a popular form; Lauryn was wading into unknown waters when she put this together. As we discuss, her own label had to be pushed to even put the album out but once they did, it became an instant smash: multi-platinum sales, the first "Best Album" Grammy award for a hip-hop album, and it elevated, for better or for worse, Lauryn - still in her early 20s - to becoming one of hip-hop and R&B's most important figures. Of course, in the years since, controversy has dogged her, especially regarding her live shows and two decades later, her legacy is a complicated one, as we get into. Joan Morgan would have been an ideal guest even if she hadn't written a book about the album; her bonafides as one of the great cultural critics to emerge in the 1990s were already well-established, least of all in her 1999 collection of essays, When Chickenheads Come Home to RoostJoan's based in New York, finishing up a PhD at NYU, but she happened to be in town on that fateful 20th anniversary day to come chat with us.
More on Joan Morgan

More on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
 unless indicated otherwise):
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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!

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!

EP38: Marcus Moore on Mos Def's "Black on Both Sides" (1999)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Marcus Moore

The Album: Mos Def's Black on Both Sides (1999)

Writer Marcus Moore, currently a senior editor at Bandcamp, happened to be coming through to Los Angeles for his first time ever and we took advantage by inviting him to join us to talk about Mos Def's debut album, Black on Both Sides. Coming out just a year after Mos and Talib Kweli created a new generation of conscious hip-hop fans with their Black Star collaboration, Black on Both Sides was also the culmination of a coming-out party for the Brooklyn rapper/actor that began earlier in the decade as he began racking up all manners of outstanding cameo spots.

During our convo with Marcus, we got into Mos' portrait of Brooklyn, how his singing took everyone for a (pleasant) surprise, why "Ms. Fat Booty" wasn't necessarily representative of the album as a whole and whether or not Mos ever was able to exceed the excellence of his debut.

More on Mos Def and Black on Both Sides: 

More on Marcus Moore:

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Black on Both Sides unless indicated otherwise):

  • Know That
  • Umi Says
  • Nas: NY State of Mind
  • Biggie: Live Freestyle 1995
  • Mos Def: BET's The Cypher
  • Mos Def, Q-Tip, Tash: Body Rock
  • UTD: My Kung Fu
  • De La Soul: Big Brother Beat
  • Ms. Fat Booty
  • Jay-Z: Jigga What, Jigga Who
  • The Roots: You Got Me
  • Techn9ne: Questions
  • Reflection Eternal: Fortified Live
  • Love
  • dialogue from 16 Blocks
  • Rock N Roll
  • Public Enemy: Fight the Power
  • Rock N Roll
  • Love
  • New World Water
  • Boogie Down Productions: Beef
  • Fela Kuti: Water No Get Enemy
  • Climb
  • Umi Says
  • Aretha Franklin: One Step Ahead
  • Ms. Fat Booty
  • Roy Ayers: We Live In Brooklyn
  • Brooklyn
  • Ms. Fat Booty
  • Mathematics
  • May-December

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

EP37: Adrian Younge on Jeru's "The Sun Rises In the East" (1994)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Adrian Younge

The Album: Jeru the Damaja's The Sun Rises In the East (1994)

Since he started putting numbers on the board with the soundtrack to Black Dynamite, artist/composer Adrian Younge has become the hip-hop maestro for creative collaborations. Through the years, he's worked with Souls of Mischief, Ghostface Killah and DJ Premier/Royce the 5'9" as well as continuing to release his own solo work. For our episode, Younge reached back to the golden era of hip-hop for us to talk about one of the most "impervious" MCs around: Brooklyn's Jeru the Damaja and his 1994 debut album, The Sun Rises in the East. We tackled everything from the contradictions of rappers talking about both consciousness and doing dirt to the brilliance of DJ Premier's production to the intricacies of Jeru's freaky freaky freaky flow.

More on Jeru and The Sun Rises in the East: 

More on Adrian Younge:

Show Tracklisting (all songs fromThe Sun Rises in the East unless indicated otherwise):

  • Gang Starr: I'm the Man
  • Can't Stop the Prophet
  • Adrian Younge/Delfonics: Lost Without You
  • Adrian Younge/Ghostface: Beware of the Stars
  • D. Original
  • Come Clean
  • Souls of Mischief: '93 Til Infinity
  • Smif N Wessun: Let's Get It On
  • Black Moon: Who Got the Props?
  • Group Home: Livin Proof
  • Rap City Interview w/ Jeru
  • Perverted Monks In the House (Theme)
  • Jeru and Lauryn Hill Interview
  • Da Bitchez
  • Mental Stamina
  • Ain't the Devil Happy
  • Lee Oskar: Our Road
  • Adrian Younge: Midnight Blue
  • Jungle Music
  • Statik
  • Brooklyn Took It

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

EP34: Cole Kuchna on Kayne West's "Yeezus"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Coke Kuchna

The album: Kanye West: Yeezus (2013)

Comprehensive analysis. Two words that describe Cole Cuchna's extraordinary podcast, DISSECT, which dedicates a season to unpacking one album, one song (per episode) at a time. His subterranean exploration of Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of the reasons we were thrilled to have him join us to discuss Kanye West's 6th album, Yeezus.
We covered Yeezy the persona vs. Kanye the person, problematic lyrics, ego reckoning, and the 2009 VMA's - a turning point in his career and a moment that will forever be a part of pop culture history. We also spent some time delving into the mindset of Yeezy, but full disclaimer: we taped this episode before Kanye's infamous twitter torrent and TMZ brouhaha.

About Cole Kuchna:

Cole's socials: IG: turangalila_ TW: @dissectpodcast

About Dissect:

More on Yeezus

Yeezy on Yeezus:

Show Tracklist (all songs from Yeezus unless indicated otherwise):

  • “On Sight”
  • “Hold My Liquor”
  • “Guilt Trip”
  • “Blood on the Leaves”
  • “Bound 2”
  • “New Slaves”
  • “I Am A God”
  • Nina Simone: Pastel Blues “Strange Fruit”
  • “Black Skinhead”
  • “I’m In It”
  • Daniel Caesar: Pilgrim’s Paradise “Streetcar”

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