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Heat Rocks

Heat Rocks


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Scorching guests and sizzling records: join music writer Oliver Wang and music supervisor Morgan Rhodes each week as they invite their favorite artists, critics and scholars for in-depth conversations about the albums that shape our lives. Each week our special guests will take you deep into their heat rocks from the world of hip-hop, soul, dance, jazz, funk and more. Get with us!
54 Episodes
Aurora Guerrero on the "Mosquita Y Mari" soundtrack (2012)
The Album: "Mosquita Y Mari" soundtrack (2012) Aurora Guerrero is a Chicana filmmaker whose 2012 sweet coming-of-age story about two young Chicanas falling in love in Huntington Park was hit at Sundance that year. The Hollywood Reporter called it "...a robust work of self-discovery for two girls at the most awkward and confusing years of their young lives, and a testament to Aurora Guerrero's storytelling prowess." Traditions and emotions merge as the Yolanda and Mari's relationship grows intensely over time. The narrative is underscored by a gorgeous soundtrack - the sound of East Los Angeles' eclectic underground music scene featuring indie artists across genres: ska, punk and hip hop with bands like Mexico 72, Pistolero, Viernes 13 and La Pobreska. We sat with Aurora to talk about her curation process, the music vibe of Huntington Park, what falling in love sounds like when you're 15 and how Mosquita Y Mari put Southeast L.A. on the map in a new way. More on Aurora Guerrero Aurora's Wikipedia entry Interview with PopMatters Twitter | Instagram Why Ava DuVernay Wanted Aurora Guerrero on Queen Sugar (OWN) Show Tracklisting (all songs from soundtrack unless indicated otherwise): Mosquita Y Mari - Main Title Yoli On the Rooftop Ponle Frenos Las Cruces de Tijuana Esta Soledad Pierdete Chica El Dia Previo Mi Corazon Es Para Ti Here is the Spotify playlist of as many song as we can find there. If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!
James Spooner on Minor Threat's "Minor Threat" (1983)
The Album: Minor Threat: Minor Threat (1984) In 2003, James Spooner released Afropunk, a personal love letter/manifesto dedicated to people like him: punk fans of a different shade whose acceptance in the scene was often hard-fought and tenuous. That became a movement, with annual afropunk festivals becoming entities unto themselves, across the world. Spooner is now a tattoo artist and graphic novelist, living in Los Angeles. For our episode, Spooner joined us to talk about Minor Threat's self-titled compilation of their early singles, one through which he discovered the ethos of straight-edge (no drugs, drinking, etc.) and a wider world of possibilities within punk rock. Minor Threat, the short-lived but heavily-influential group out of Washington D.C., fronted by Ian MacKaye is legendary and this compilation was one of the first ways in which listeners could discover the group, their sound and their philosophy.  During our episode, we discussed how what about straight-edge appealed to him, the racial politics of punk and how a kid from the high desert of California came across this music and culture to begin with. More on James Spooner "The True Story Of How Afropunk Turned A Message Board Into A Movement" (Vice) Interview with James Spooner (Live from Planet Earth) Monocle Tattoo Website | Instagram More on Minor Threat Review in Sputnik Music 1982 interview "Straight Edge Religion: Hardcore Punk and the Sober Revolution" (Marginalia) Show Tracklisting (all songs from Minor Threat unless indicated otherwise): Minor Threat Straight Edge Screaming at the Wall Guilty of Being White Black Flag: White Minority Patti Smith: Rock N Roll N-- The Monkees: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone Steppin' Stone Bottled Violence I Don't Wanna Hear It The Murder City Devils: Boom Swagger Boom   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!
Sidibe on Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark" (1974)
The Album: Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (1973) In 1973, Joni Mitchell was in the midst of one of the greatest pop music runs of the decade. By that time, the Canadian-turned-temporary-Angelino had already put out Ladies of the Canyon, Blue and For the Roses, establishing her as one of the very few women that the rock establishment of the era would deign to even recognize. But with Court & Spark, Mitchell showcased her abilities beyond just the folk-rock world by minting a pop album that would become a defining statement of the time and her most successful LP of all time. To talk about Court & Spark, we had in another transplant to L.A.: singer/songwriter Sidibe. Since moving out here 10 years ago, she's steadily raised her profile, especially after the release of her 2014 EPs, Metaphysical and Soul Siren. Alongside the likes of Anita Baker and Sade, Joni has been a longtime influence and inspiration on Sidibe and during our convo, we discussed Mitchell's vocal gifts, her jazz-rock collaborations on Court & Spark plus a tangential discussions on how bagging groceries might help one get discovered. More on Sidibe "Meet Sidibe" (Galore Magazine) "Soul starlet Sidibe talks being an independent artist" (Rolling Out) Website | Instagram | Twitter More on Court & Spark Counterbalance discussion of the album (Popmatters) "The story of Joni Mitchell's jazz-inflected, career-turning Court and Spark" (Ultimate Classic Rock) Original 1974 Rolling Stone review Show Tracklisting (all songs from Court and Spark unless indicated otherwise): Help Me Sidibe: Unreachable People's Parties The Same Situation Just Like This Train Help Me Joni Mitchell: Sweet Sucker Dance Twisted Raised on Robbery Help Me Sidibe: Love is Stronger Than Pride 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!
serpentwithfeet on Björk's "Homogenic" (1997)
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 The Fader cover story Björk's "Blissing Me" remix feat. serpentwithfeet "serpentwithfeet Crafts His Own Language For Queer Life" (NPR) Bandcamp | Twitter More on Homegenic Album review (Pitchfork) "Put A Björk In It: How A 14-Year-Old Album Is Still Influencing Music" (Deadspin) "Homogenic Turns 20" (Stereogum) 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 and 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 is the Spotify playlist of as many of the songs as we could find on there If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!
Tiffany Gouché on Destiny's Child's "The Writing's on the Wall" (1999)
The Album: Destiny's Child "The Writing's on the Wall" 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 Heat Rock “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 Gouché Live Performance + Interview for Soulection(Okayplayer) Interview with Billboard Tiffany Gouché @ The Boiler Room Instagram | Twitter More on The Writing's on the Wall Wikipedia entry on The Writing's on the Wall The Writing's on the Wall: Review (Pitchfork) The 10 Commandments of Love Within Destiny's Child's "The Writing's on the Wall" (Billboard) 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!
Summer Spectacular feat. Quetzal
The Albums:  Alé Kumá: Cantaoras (Alé Kumá, 2002) Mary J. Blige: What's the 411? (Uptown, 1992) The Smiths: Louder Than Bombs (Rough Trade, 1987) Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly (TDE, 2015) 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 Gonzalvez 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 Tiny Desk Concert (NPR's All Songs Considered) "The Fiery Music of Quetzal" (KCET's Artbound) Website | Facebook 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'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!
Thomas Golubic on De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising" (1989)
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 Interview with Variety Thomas on the "Crew Call" podcast. Website | Twitter More on Three Feet High and Rising "How we made 3 Feet High and Rising" (Guardian) "Classic Track-by-Track Review" (Billboard) "Three Feet High and Missing: Why De La Soul's albums aren't available online" (BBC) 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!
Amber Navran on King's "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 Navman Moonchild: The List Moonchild: Live @ The Boiler Room Music from Speak Up EP Bandcamp Website | Twitter | Instagram More on KING Via Pitchfork Via The Guardian Via The NYTimes Twitter | Instagram 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!
Phil Yu on Boyz II Men's "II" (1994)
Guest: 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 Interview with KoreAm Magazine. "Becoming Angry Asian Man" (Profile on NBC Asian America) They Call Us Bruce podcast Website | Twitter More on II "Boyz II Men at the Head of the Class" (New York Times, 1994) "Boyz II Men Talk Incredible 1994 Run" (Billboard, 2014) Show Tracklisting (all songs from II unless indicated otherwise): Track List Coming If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!
Jesse Thorn on The Coup's "Steal This Album" (1998)
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 from Jesse about The Coup Bullseye on MaximumFun/NPR Website | Twitter More on Steal This Album  Coup's Steal This Album title not what it seems. ( Album review on One of Oliver's *cough cough* five reviews of the album (Amazon) 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 (Ghetto Anthem) 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!
Comments (4)


loved this episode.. per usual 🔥🔥🔥

Aug 24th

tlc jr

I'm 15 years old all over again listening to this. Thanks!

Jun 13th


Salute to #drdre and #thechronic.... dope episode as always.... #playingcatchup

Apr 19th


loved this episode and this many memories...😍😍😍

Apr 19th
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