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.)

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Heat Rocks EP21: Pharoahe Monch on Main Source's "Breaking Atoms" (1991)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
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"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
King

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”

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Heat Rocks, EP 19: Bardo Martinez on Eugene McDaniels' "Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse" (1971)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
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)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
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”

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

Heat Rocks EP17: Vernon Reid on Jimi Hendrix's "Band of Gypsys" (1970)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Vernon Reid

The album: Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys (1970)

Vernon Reid is one of rock's greatest guitarists, having rising to stardom in the 1980s as a member of Living Colour. It's not surprising, therefore, that he'd choose an album by one of rock's other great guitarists: Jimi Hendrix and his final album, Band of Gypsys, recorded live at the Fillmore East and released in the spring of 1970. Reid gave us an amazing lesson into what exactly made Hendrix so brilliant, least of all on this album.

More on Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys

More on Vernon Reid

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Band of Gypsys unless indicated otherwise):

  • Message of Love
  • Jimi Hendrix on The Dick Cavett Show
  • Jimi Hendrix: Star Spangled Banner
  • Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced?
  • Machine Gun
  • Power to Love/Power of Soul
  • Who Knows
  • Them Changes
  • Living Colour: Power of Soul
  • Jimi Hendrix: Stop

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Heat Rocks EP16: Bahamadia on the Kay-Gee's "Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan" (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Bahamadia

The album: The Kay-Gee's: Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan (Gang, 1974)

 

We invited Philly hip-hop star Bahamadia to join us and she kept things tri-state by picking the 1974 debut album by New Jersey's The Kay-Gee's, originally an off-shoot of Kool and the Gang. The Kay-Gee's may not be household names in the same manner as Kool and the Gang or the Ohio Players but especially on this debut, they cooked up an impressively diverse and surprisingly eclectic set of tracks that defy simple expectation. What other band ends their album with their own "greatest hits montage"?

More on the Kay-Gee's Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan

More on Bahamadia

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Keep On Bumpin' & Masterplan unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Who’s the Man (With The Master Plan)”
  • Bahamadia: Kollage “Wordplay”
  • The Trammps: Disco Inferno “Disco Inferno”
  • MFSB: Love Is The Message“Love Is The Message”
  • James Brown: Getting’ Down To It“Cold Sweat”
  • Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band:Express Yourself “Express Yourself”
  • Parliament: Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome “Flashlight”
  • “Wondering”
  • “My Favorite Song”
  • The Floaters: Float On “Float On”
  • Cameo: We All Know Who We Are “Why Have I Lost You”
  • “Aint No Time (pt 1)”
  • You’ve Got To Keep on Bumpin”
  • “Who’s The Man (With The Master Plan)”
  • Madlib and J-Dilla: Champion Sound Jaylib (The Official)
  • Tom Browne: Funkin For Jamaica “Funkin for Jamaica”
  • “Get Down”
  • “Anthology”
  • Double Dee and Stein: Lesson 3“History of Hip-Hop Mix”
  • “Hustle with Every Muscle”

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

Heat Rocks, EP 15: Kris Bowers on Kendrick Lamar's "Section.80" (2011)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Kris Bowers

The album: Kendrick Lamar: Section.80 (Top Dawg, 2011)

To talk about Kendrick Lamar's studio LP debut, we wanted to find someone of K-Dot's generation, another L.A. young gun, and who better than pianist and composer, Kris Bowers? Like Kendrick, Kris grew up in L.A. and just as Kendrick has ascended the hip-hop ladder, so has Kris in jazz, as he won the prestigious Theolonious . But more than that, the web of Los Angeles musical ties was bound to bring the two into orbit in different ways - something we discuss in the episode - not the least of which is the fact that Kris covered one of the biggest tracks in Kendrick's early career: "Rigamortis."

In our conversation with Kris, we got deep into how he put together both the song and video for his version of "Rigamortis," whether or not Kendrick has a jazz sensibility in his style, and what it's like to see a hometown kid become the Greatest Rapper Alive.

More on Kendrick Lamar's Section.80

More on Kris Bowers

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Section.80 unless indicated otherwise):

  • "A.D.H.D."
  • Kris Bowers: "Rigamortis (Kendrick Lamar Cover)"
  • Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid M.A.A.D. City "m.A.A.D. city"
  • MURS: Captain California "GBKW"
  • Dr. Dre: The Chronic “Dre Day”
  • A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory “Jazz (We’ve Got This)”
  • "High Power"
  • "Rigamortis"
  • "Keisha’s Song"
  • Kendrick Lamar: “Sing About Me”
  • "Ab-Souls Outro"
  • "Kush & Corinthians"
  • Willie Jones III: The Next Phase “The Thorn”
  • Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly “If These Walls Could Talk”
  • Chapter Six

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

Heat Rocks, EP 14: Bosco on Erykah Badu's "Mama's Gun"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Bosco

The album: Erykah Badu: Mama's Gun (Motown, 2000)

Bosco was an artist that Morgan knew, from jump, she wanted to get on the show. A Savannah native who's now an L.A. transplant (by way of Atlanta), Bosco's been steady climbing the ranks in the music game and has had a breakout year in 2017, especially wiht the release of her full-length, b.

For her pick, Bosco wanted to revisit one of the formative albums that shaped her imagination as a kid: Erykah Badu's sophomore album: Mama's Gun. If Baduizm helped put Badu on the map, Mama's Gun - which was produced by the same Soulquarian team also working on D'Angelo's Voodoo and Common's Like Water For Chocolate - firmly established her as the preeminent queen of what was then called neo-soul and these days seems better described as future soul. Our conversation touched on many aspects of how Badu and her sound landed on people's ears back at the turn of the century and how it continues to reverberate today.

More on Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun

More on Bosco

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Mama's Gun unless indicated otherwise):

  • ”Bag Lady”
  • Bosco: b. “Castles”
  • Erykah Badu: Baduizm “Apple Tree”
  • ”Other Side Of The Game”
  • The Roots: Things Fall Apart “You’ve Got Me ft. Erykah Badu and Jill Scott Live”
  • Res: How I Do “How I Do”
  • ”Cleva”
  • SZA: Ctrl “Normal Girl”
  • ”Time’s A Wastin”
  • ”…&On”
  • ”Didn’t Cha Know”
  • Bosco: b. “Free”
  • ”Penitentiary Philosophy”
  • ”A.D. 2000”
  • ”Orange Tree”
  • …&On
  • ”Kiss Me ON My Neck”
  • ”Booty”
  • ”Green Eyes”
  • ”In Love With You Ft. Stephen Marley”
  • Erykah Badu: “I’ve Been Going Through it All”
  • ”Orange Tree”
  • …&On
  • ”Kiss Me ON My Neck”
  • ”Booty”
  • ”Green Eyes”
  • ”In Love With You Ft. Stephen Marley”
  • Erykah Badu: Erykah Badu “Amerykahn Promise”

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

Heat Rocks, EP 13: Jay Smooth on Run DMC's "Raising Hell" (1986)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jay Smooth

The album: Run DMC: Raising Hell (Profile, 1986)

 

Jay Smooth was always on our list of "people who we gotta get for Heat Rocks." His cultural and political commentary, much of which he does through his pioneering Ill Doctrine videos, have positioned him as one of the hip-hop generation's leading pundits and he's also hosted one of the longest running rap shows in the world: The Underground Railroad on WBAI.

For this show, Jay wanted to revisit Raising Hell a paradigm-shifting rap album that, as we discuss, has seemingly become underrated through the passage of time though it is unquestionably one of the most important hip-hop releases, ever. We get into the moment in which Run DMC first arrived, how they changed the game for rap artists (for better and for worse) and of course, all our fire track and sleeper jam picks off this LP.

More on Run DMC's Raising Hell

More on Jay Smooth

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Raising Hell unless indicated otherwise):

  • Walk This Way
  • Run DMC: Sucker MCs
  • Run DMC: It's Like That
  • Raising Hell
  • Eric B. and Rakim: I Ain't No Joke
  • It's Tricky
  • Peter Piper
  • Bob James: Mardi Gras
  • Dumb Girl
  • Is It Live?
  • My Adidas
  • Proud to Be Black
  • You Be Illin'
  • NWA: Straight Outta Compton
  • Run DMC: Tougher Than Leather
  • Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man
  • Jay-Z: Jockin' Jay-Z

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

What Is YOUR Heat Rock?

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As we near the end of the year, I'd like to do something special for our listeners.

What's one of your heat rocks?

Record up to two minutes of you waxing poetic about one of your favorite albums and send it to us. We'll share your picks with the rest of our listener community! What we're asking for is:

  • Your Name + Where You're From
  • Your Heat Rock choice
  • Your Fire Track off that album

    Two minutes max please!