Oliver Wang

Heat Rocks, EP 9: The Shacks on The Sapphires' "Best Of" (1960s)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
The Shacks

The album: The Sapphires: Best Of (Heritage, 1994)

This week, we are joined by The Shacks, the NYC-based duo of singer Shannon Wise and producer Max Shrager. Maybe you heard their cool cover of The Kinks' "This Strange Effect" on that Apple ad this fall? Or maybe you were already up on them from their EP, released by Big Crown? Either way, Max and Shannon threw us a curveball with their choice: a 1994 compilation of nearly two dozen sides recorded in the mid-1960s by The Sapphires, the obscure-ish R&B trio of Carol Jackson, George Gainer and Joe Livingston that recorded with Swan and ABC-Paramount before dissolving circa 1966. We talked about the unique sound of The Sapphires, the roots of Philly soul, and what it's like to dig through the crates to figure out your own sound.

This episode was both the first time we had a group in the studio, which was fun, and the first time we tackled an album from the 1960s. Hopefully, it won't be the last, for either.

More on The Sapphpires and their Best Of anthology:

More on The Shacks:

Show Tracklisting:

  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Who Do You Love"
  • The Shacks: The Shacks EP "This Strange Effect"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Lets Break Up For A While"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Gotta Have Your Love"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Evil One"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Come On And Love Me"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Your True Love"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Evil One"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Your True Love"
  • Edison Lighthouse: Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Hearts Are Made to be Broken"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "I've Got Mine, You Better Get Yours"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Evil One"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Who Do You Love"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Slow Fizz"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Baby You've Got Me"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Hearts Are Made To Be Broken"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Let Break Up For A While"
  • The Sapphires: The very Best of the Sapphires "Gotta Have Your Love"

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

Heat Rocks, EP 7: Anil Dash on Prince's "1999" (1982)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Anil Dash

The album: Prince: 1999 (Warner Bros., 1982)

This week, we are joined by Anil Dash, the tech entrepreneur and activist whose love for The Purple One is legendary. He takes us into the Heat Rocks deep dive for Prince's 1999, the album that marked his new wave turn. All three of us share tales of our older family members being scandalized by the sexy-sexiness on the album. Mmmmmm...spicy. 

More on Prince and 1999:

More on Anil Dash:

Show Tracklisting:

  • Prince: 1999 "1999"
  • Prince: 1999 "Delirious"
  • Prince: 1999 "D.M.S.R."
  • Michael Jackson Thriller "Thriller"
  • Prince: 1999 "Little Red Corvette"
  • Prince: 1999 "Lady Cab Driver"
  • Prince: 1999 "Something in the Water"
  • Prince: 1999 "Free"
  • Prince: 1999 "All The Critics Love U in New York"

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

Heat Rocks, EP 6: Ill Camille on Common's "Like Water For Chocolate" (2000)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Ill Camille

The album: Common: Like Water For Chocolate (MCA, 2000)

This week, we are joined by Los Angeles rapper, Ill Camille. She picked Common's Like Water For Chocolate from 2000, a moment that marked the Chicago's turn towards becoming a hip-hop elder statesman, backed by the production might of the Soulquarians crew. Camille's love for the album runs deep and during the course of our taping, she'd bust out Common's rhymes, line for line.

More on Common and Like Water For Chocolate:

More on Ill Camille:

Show Tracklisting:

  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "6th Sense (Feat. Bilal)"
  • Ill Camille Heirloom "Black Gold"
  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "Nag Champa (Afrodisiac for the World)"
  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "Geto Heaven"
  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "A Song For Assata (Feat. Cee-Lo Green)"
  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "Funky For You (Feat. Bilal & Jill Scott)"
  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "The Light"
  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "Thelonius (Feat. Slum Village)"
  • Georgia Ann Muldrow: "Untitled/Fantastic Remix"
  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "Dooinit"
  • Common: Like Water For Chocolate "Time Travelin (A Tribute to Fela)"

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

Heat Rocks, EP4: Shea Serrano on DMX's "It's Dark and Hell Is Hot" (1998)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Shea Serrano

The album: DMX: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot (Def Jam, 1998)

This week, we are joined by Shea Serrano, contributor at TheRinger.com, author of both The Rap Yearbook and the brand new Basketball (And Other Things). For his heat rock, he choose DMX's smash debut LP, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot. *woof*

During our conversation, we learned how it was Shea's grandmother, of all people, who introduced him to DMX and how that album became the formative soundtrack for him as a teenager. Shea drops wisdom nuggets on the nature of pain in DMX's persona and how this album marked a repudiation of the direction hip-hop was headed in during the jiggy era.

More on DMX and It's Dark and Hell Is Hot:

More on Shea Serrano:

Show Tracklisting:

  • DMX: "Get At Me Dog" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • Mase: "Feel So Good" Money Talks
  • DMX: "Fucking With My Dogs" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX: "Catching The Same Hell"
  • DMX: "Look Thru My Eyes" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX: "Ruff Ryders Anthem" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX: "Prayer" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX Feat. Eve "Dog Match" Let There Be Eve...Ruff Ryders First Lady
  • DMX "Crime Story" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • DMX "For My Dogs" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot
  • 50 Cent "Wanksta"
  • Mase "24 Hours To Live" Harlem World
  • DMX "How's It Goin Down" It's Dark and Hell Is Hot

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


11-2-17 Update!

In our episode, I (Oliver) credited the album for helping introduce Swizz Beats to the wider world. That's true insofar as "The Ruff Ryders Anthem" was one of Swizz's first big hits. However, it's the only song on the entire album that Swizz worked on. Most of the album was produced by Dame Grease and P.K. and in my haste, I didn't do my proper discographic research to give credit where it was properly due.

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

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

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)

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

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 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.

Be sure to follow us on any and all of the following: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Pop Rocket Episode 102: Farewell

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Wynter, Oliver, and Margaret
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell
Guests: 
Oliver Wang
Guests: 
Guy Branum

This week, Margaret hosts a very bittersweet episode with the whole gang present (Guy via phone). This is Oliver Wang’s last show as a co-host, and the gang is talking about pop culture farewells. They talk about the departure of which characters affected them most growing up, good and bad series finale’s, and the most recent pop culture departures that really got to them. And later, Guy joins the conversation to talk about their latest jams and to say his own farewell.
P.S. because this show is about **farewells** please note that there will be many spoilers. Breaking Bad, The Affair, Seinfeld, 90210, The Walking Dead, The Wire, The Sopranos, Sex And The City, La La Land are among some of the TV and movies discussed.

That’s My Jam:
Margaret Wappler - Ragged Wood
Guy Branum - Adventures in Paradise
Wynter Mitchell - A Solid Wall Of Sound

Oliver Wang - Always In My Heart

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to this handy Spotify playlist.

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

Other Links:
Days of Being Wild Opening
Santa Barbara Soap Opening
Saturday Night Live
The Face Collection of Books

Produced by Christian Dueñas and Kara Hart for MaximumFun.org

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