Heat Rocks

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

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)

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?

Get to Know Heat Rocks Host Oliver Wang!

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Maximum Fun's newest show Heat Rocks debuts on Tuesday, October 3rd! Read on to get to know co-host Oliver Wang before you check out the outstanding first episode.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I wear many hats (literally and figuratively) but my main job is as a sociology professor at Cal State Long Beach, where I’ve been since 2006. I’ve also been an arts/culture writer since the mid-90s. I started as a music critic but these days, I write about everything from urban change to food to car clubs. I’ve also been a DJ for 25 years and I continue to collect records and occasionally, play them out.

What led you to create Heat Rocks?

It may seem archaic but I still love the album as a format. The idea that an artist would sit down to create an album as a collection of ideas, as a creative statement, is still compelling. I always knew I wanted to create a podcast around albums and when I approached Morgan to be the co-host, we cooked up the idea of inviting guests to talk about the albums they love. Ultimately, Heat Rocks is an album appreciation show.

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

It’s the surprise factor when you hear what guests want to talk about. Phonte choosing, for example, “Intro” by Intro, an early ‘90s new jack swing album totally caught me off guard but it turned out to be an incredibly fun episode. Likewise, I wouldn’t have guessed that one of Ill Camille’s favorite albums was Common’s “Like Water For Chocolate” but she had every verse on that album memorized. Every. Verse. It was incredible.

What's your personal heat rock?

I have many! But if you twisted my arm to just pick one, I might have to go with Al Green’s “I’m Still In Love With You.” It doesn’t even have “Let’s Stay Together” on it yet it’s 9 songs, barely over half an hour long, and it’s damn near perfect.

Introducing Heat Rocks, coming October 3rd!

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Show: 
Heat Rocks

Heat Rocks is a brand new podcast from MaxFun, hosted by music writer Oliver Wang and music supervisor Morgan Rhodes. Each episode, we invite a guest to join us - an artist, a writer, a scholar, etc. - to pick out and talk about one of their favorite albums. It's a show about music appreciation and music discovery as we probe some of the most compelling albums from the worlds of hip-hop, soul, dance, jazz, funk and more.

Listen to a sneak preview of upcoming episodes with special guests Joi, Kris Bowers, and Dam-Funk!

Subscribe now in Apple Podcasts or wherever you download your podcasts, and catch the premiere episode on Tuesday, October 3rd. New episodes every Tuesday and we'll have full show notes available, right here.

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