1990s

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!

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

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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!

EP32: Justin Simien on Michael Jackson's "HIStory" (1995)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Justin Simien

The album: Michael Jackson: HIStory: Past, Present and Future: Book 1 (1995)

Justin Simien, whose Dear White People is just beginning its second season on Netflix, came through to join us live for another Voyager Institute collaboration. By sheer coincidence, our last VI event took on Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation and here we are again, working our way through another Jackson family LP. (Can LaToya be too far behind?)

HIStory, as our crew points out, is an odd duck in the vaunted Jackson discography. Though it was enormously successful – the best selling double album of all time (especially since disc one was a "Greatest Hits" anthology) – it tends to have been overlooked given all the controversy swirling around MJ in that era. He had already been tried and acquitted on child molestation charges but his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley was still tabloid catnip and all this resulted in him recording, to quote Morgan: his most "pissed" off album, ever. This, and more, was all fodder for our conversation. But before you even listen, you have to watch the trailer for HIStory:

Meanwhile, don't forget to listen to last week's episode, about Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, featuring Martin Perna!

More on HIStory

More on Justin Simien

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

  • “Money”
  • “Scream”
  • Janet Jackson: Got Till It’s Gone “Got Till It’s Gone”
  • “This Time Around Feat. Biggie Smalls”
  • “You Are Not Alone”
  • “Stranger In Moscow”
  • “Childhood”
  • Michael Jackson: Bad “Leave Me Alone”
  • “They Don’t Really Care About Us”
  • “Tabloid Junkie”
  • Michael Jackson: Thriller “Someone In The Dark”

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

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!

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

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
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”
    “Butter”
  • “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”
  • 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!

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

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    Show: 
    Heat Rocks
    Guests: 
    Monalisa

    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”

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

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