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 Tuesday 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:

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

Heat Rocks
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”
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EP25: Denaun "Mr." Porter on A Tribe Called Quest's "Low End Theory" (1991)

Heat Rocks
Denaun Porter

The album: A Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory (1991)

Producer/MC Denaun Porter aka Mr. Porter has been in the hip-hop scene for over two decades. He has some impressive credits under his belt, producing songs that combined have sold almost 100 million records. He has worked with some of the industries top-talent including Eminem, 50 Cent, SnoopDog, Shakira, Bad Meets Evil, and many more. He is also one of the founding members of the chart-topping Detroit hip-hop group D12. It was none other than ATCQ's "Bonita Applebaum" that inspired Mr. Porter to get into hip-hop and not surprisingly, when we invited him to the show, he wanted to talk about one of the all-time great hip-hop albums: ATCQ's sophomore effort, Low End Theory. 

During our convo, we discussed the production techniques and sample choices, how good the album's sequencing was, and why Q-Tip and the late Phife Dawg went together like peanut butter and jelly. We also got into the fight-provoking question of: Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders?

More on A Tribe Called Quest and Low End Theory

More on Denaun Porter

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Low End Theory unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Scenario”
  • “Denaun Porter: Porter Shops Glasper “jUsT 4 dA hAwAiI eVeNiNg
  • “D12: Devil’s Night: “Purple Hills”
  • “Excursions”
  • “Cannonball Adderley: The Black Messiah “The Steam Drill”
  • “Jackie Jackson: Jackie Jackson “Is it Him or Me”
  • “Queen Latifah: Nature of a Sister “Latifah’s Had It Up to Here”
  • “MC Lyte: Act Like You Know “Act Like You Know”
  • “Skypager”
  • “Check The Rhime”
  • “The Infamous Date Rape”
  • “What?”
  • “Jazz (We’ve Got This)”
  • ““Buggin Out”
  • “Migos: Culture II “Motorsport Feat. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj”
  • “Weather Report: Mr. Gone “Young and Fine”
  • “A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders “Lyrics to Go”
  • “Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Buhaina“A Chant for Bu”
  • “Everything is Fair”
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    EP24: Brian "B+" Cross on Freestyle Fellowship's "To Whom It May Concern" (1991)

    Heat Rocks
    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!

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

    Heat Rocks

    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”

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

    03/03/2018 - 16:00 - 18:00
    Los Angeles, CA
    Venue Name: 

    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)

    Heat Rocks
    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)

    Heat Rocks
    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”

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

    Heat Rocks

    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)

    Heat Rocks
    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)

    Heat Rocks
    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”

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