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:

EP39: Eliza Skinner on the "Pretty in Pink" soundtrack (1986)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Eliza Skinner

The Album: Pretty In Pink Soundtrack (1986)

Actress and comedian Eliza Skinner is part of the brand new Maximum Fun scripted comedy show, Bubble, and hosts her own music podcast, Cool Playlist. For her guest spot on Heat Rocks, she wanted to revisit one of the iconic soundtracks of the 1980s: Pretty in Pink. The film is a key part of the John Hughes pantheon, alongside The Breakfast Club, 16 Candles and Ferris Bueller's Day Off and arguably boasts the most storied soundtrack of all of them, including now-classics that were written expressly for the film such as OMD's "If You Leave" and Echo and Bunnymen's "Bring On the Dancing Horses," and of course, the reworked, sax-ified version of the Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty In Pink."

Eliza and us discussed how soundtracks can create an invented nostalgia for a time we never knew, what lesser known tracks off this album still bump, and why Ducky really didn't deserve to belong with Andie.

(That said, Ducky did kill it during his "Try a Little Tenderness" scene)

More on the Pretty In Pink soundtrack: 

More on Eliza Skinner:

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Pretty In Pink unless indicated otherwise):

  • Pretty in Pink
  • If You Leave
  • Left of Center
  • Simple Minds: Don't You (Forget About Me)
  • The Barden Bellas: Bellas Finals: Price Tag/ Don't You (Forget About Me)
  • Get to Know Ya
  • Prince: Kiss
  • Prince: Purple Rain
  • Deniece Williams: Let's Hear it for the Boy
  • Modern English: I Melt with You
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Wouldn't it be Good
  • Otis Redding: Try a Little Tenderness
  • New Order: Thieves Like Us (Instrumental)
  • If You Leave
  • Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
  • Wouldn't it be Good
  • 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!

EP36: Taura Stinson on Minnie Riperton's "Adventures in Paradise"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Taura Stinson

The Album: Minnie Riperton's Adventures in Paradise (1975)

2018 has been a breakout year for this weeks guest, Taura Stinson. "Mighty River", the song she co-wrote with Raphael Saadiq for Dee Rees' critically acclaimed film Mudbound was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. She is a singer's singer who understands the nuances of song creation, production and arrangement. We couldn't have asked for a better guest and a better album to discuss and were thrilled to have her wax poetic about Minnie Riperton's 1975 Adventures In Paradise.

We dug deep on this one - discussing both Minnie's supreme vocal prowess and the sonic and lyrical legacy she left us when she left us just four years after this album was released. With production help from The Crusaders, Stewart Levine and Leon Ware, this peek into Minnie's world is quite the adventure. Get thoroughly into our chat with Taura Stinson and then revisit Adventures in Paradise for the culture.

About Taura:

Taura's book

Taura's Oscar & Golden Globe Nominated song "Mighty River"

Taura's single "Gossypium Thorns"

Show Tracklist (all songs from "Adventures in Paradise" unless indicated otherwise):

  • "Baby, This Love I Have"
  • Taura Stinson: Gossypium Thorns (Freedom) "Gossypium Thorns (Freedom)"
  • The Gospel Clouds: "Let Us Pray"
  • "Inside My Love"
  • "Inside My Love"
  • Minnie Riperton: Perfect Angel "Lovin' You"
  • Rotary Connection: Aladdin "Life Could"
  • Mariah Carey: Emotions "Emotions"
  • Rotary Connection: Hey, Love "I Am the Blackgold of the Sun"
  • "Adventures in Paradise"
  • "Inside My Love"
  • A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders "Lyrics to Go"
  • The Pointer Sisters: Steppin' "How Long (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side)"
  • Gwen McCrae: Lady Soul "Rockin' Chair"
  • Natalie Cole: Inseparable "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)"
  • Labelle: Nightbirds "Lady Marmalade"
  • "Feelin' that the Feeling's Good"
  • Minnie Riperton: Perfect Angel "Take a Little Trip"
  • Minnie Riperton: The Best of Minnie Riperton "Woman of Heart and Mind"
  • Quincy Jones: Body Heat "If I Ever Lose This Heaven"
  • "Love and It's Glory"
  • "Adventures in Paradise"
  • "When It Comes Down to It"
  • "Alone in Brewster Bay"
  • "Baby, This Love I Have"
  • "Simple Things"
  • Minnie Riperton: Le Fleur "Young Willing and Able"
  • "Feelin' that the Feeling's Good"
  • "Simple Things"
  • "Minnie's Lament"
  • Prince: Parade-Music from the Motion Picture "Under the Cherry Moon" "Sometimes It Snows in April"
  • Emage: "Inside My Love"
  • "Don't Let Anyone Bring You Down"

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

EP35: Cut Chemist on Cymande's "Cymande" (1972)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Cut Chemist

The Album: Cymande: Cymande (1972)

"Say go DJ, cause that's my DJ..." - Weezy

Cut Chemist is nice with the wax, nice with the loops, nice on the decks. A central figure in West Coast hip hop (Jurassic 5, Ozomotli) and the art of turntablism, both he and his record collection are legendary. While he joined us to talk about British funk pioneer Cymande's 1972 self-titled debut, our conversation covered a myriad of topics including Cut's journey as a crate digger, a record he may or may not have pilfered in 1987, the influence of Chuck Chillout and DJ Red Alert on his development as a DJ, Cymande's seamless genre-fusing and the band's relationship to hip-hop. Needless to say, we went in.

About Cut Chemist:
https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/8225523/cut-chemist-i...

About Cut's latest album, Die Cut 
https://daily.bandcamp.com/2018/03/13/cut-chemist-die-cut-interview/

Oliver's Rolling Stone interview with Cymande:
http://rol.st/1U3YpYS

Cymande website:
http://www.cymandeofficial.com

Show Tracklist (all songs from Cymande unless indicated otherwise):

  • "One More"
  • Cut Chemist: The Audience's Listening "The Garden"
  • Harlem Underground Band: Harlem Underground Band "Smokin' Cheeba Cheeba"
  • "Bra"
  • "The Message"
  • "Dove"
  • DJ Chuck Chillout: clip from 98.7 Kiss FM show from 1986
  • Clip from the 1983 film "Wild Style"
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik "Give It Away"
  • "Getting it Back"
  • "The Message"
  • Assagai: Assagai "Telephone Girl"
  • "Dove"
  • "Listen"
  • "Getting it Back"
  • "Zion I"
  • "Rickshaw"
  • Hielo Ardiente: El Original Ritmo Ardiente "Mensaje"
  • The Meters: The Meters "Cissy Strut"
  • "Rastafarian Folk Song"
  • The Fugees: The Score "The Score"
  • De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising "Change in Speak"
  • The Doors: L.A. Woman "Riders on the Storm"
  • Tune Yards: Nikki Nack "Water Fountain"
  • Alice in Chains: Facelift "Man in the Box"
  • Cymande: Second Time Round "Bird"
  • Kaidi Tathem: Feed the Cat "Armz R Deh"

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

EP34: Cole Kuchna on Kayne West's "Yeezus"

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Coke Kuchna

The album: Kanye West: Yeezus (2013)

Comprehensive analysis. Two words that describe Cole Cuchna's extraordinary podcast, DISSECT, which dedicates a season to unpacking one album, one song (per episode) at a time. His subterranean exploration of Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of the reasons we were thrilled to have him join us to discuss Kanye West's 6th album, Yeezus.
We covered Yeezy the persona vs. Kanye the person, problematic lyrics, ego reckoning, and the 2009 VMA's - a turning point in his career and a moment that will forever be a part of pop culture history. We also spent some time delving into the mindset of Yeezy, but full disclaimer: we taped this episode before Kanye's infamous twitter torrent and TMZ brouhaha.

About Cole Kuchna:

Cole's socials: IG: turangalila_ TW: @dissectpodcast

About Dissect:

More on Yeezus

Yeezy on Yeezus:

Show Tracklist (all songs from Yeezus unless indicated otherwise):

  • “On Sight”
  • “Hold My Liquor”
  • “Guilt Trip”
  • “Blood on the Leaves”
  • “Bound 2”
  • “New Slaves”
  • “I Am A God”
  • Nina Simone: Pastel Blues “Strange Fruit”
  • “Black Skinhead”
  • “I’m In It”
  • Daniel Caesar: Pilgrim’s Paradise “Streetcar”

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

EP33: Fredara Hadley on Anita Baker's "Compositions" (1990)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Fredara Hadley

The album: Anita Baker: Compositions (1990)

Ethnomusicologist Fredara Hadley had been on our wish list for a while and as luck would have it, she came to Los Angeles earlier this spring and things lined up nicely. For our episode, Fredara wanted to get into the queen of the quiet storm from the 1980s and early ‘90s: Anita Baker and her platinum-selling 1990 album, Compositions. During our conversation, we got into the nuances of Baker’s voice and how she compelled your full attention, how she fit (or didn’t) with the sound of R&B in the early ‘90s and how, as successful as she was, she could have thrived even better in an era where jazz and R&B overlap is better embraced.

More on Compositions

More on Fredara Hadley

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

  • “Talk To Me”
  • Anita Baker: Rapture “Sweet Love”
  • “Fairy Tales”
  • Peabo Bryson: Crosswinds “Crosswinds”
  • “More Thank You Know”
  • Mariah Carey: Mariah Carey “Vision of Love”
  • Lisa Stansfeild: Been Around The World “Been Around The World”
  • En Vogue:Born To Sing “Hold On To Your Love”
  • “Look What I Got”
  • Drake: Comeback Season “Think Good Thoughts Feat. Phonte and Elzhi”
  • Perri: “Airstream”
  • “Perfect Love Affair”
  • “Love You To The Letter”
  • “Feel The Need”
  • “Whatever It Takes”
  • “No One To Blame”
  • Jill Scott: The Light of the Sun “Hear My Call”
  • “Lonely”

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!

Bonus Beats: Martin Perna and the Heat Rocks crew on "Off the Wall" vs. "Thriller"

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Taken from our original taping with Martin Perna regarding Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall," we got into a short discussion of whether "Off the Wall" or "Thriller" is better aka "the debate to divide MJ fans now and forever."

Episode 31, Bonus Beats: Off the Wall vs. Thriller

EP31: Martín Perna on Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" (1980)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Martín Perna

The album: Michael Jackson: Off The Wall (1979)

Martín Perna of Antibalas wanted to revisit one of the formative albums of his childhood: Michael Jackson's Off The Wall. For many MJ fans, this is the king of pop's greatest work, a clear statement that he was now fully out of the shadow of the Jackson 5 and, along with super-producer Quincy Jones, ready to remake American pop music as we know it.

Perna not only brought his memories of growing up, mesmerized by the cover of the album, but his multi-instrumentalist also broke down some of the secrets behind the production on the album. Even for deep fans, there's something to learn, and for everyone else, you get to hear from one of the great pop albums of all time. (And if you haven't heard it before, check out this incredible demo version of "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough")

Next week's episode is also about Michael Jackson as director Justin Simien (Dear White People) joins us to talk about MJ's HIStory (1995).

And look for a bonus beats episode to post soon that features Perna and us talking about the never-ending "Off the Wall vs. Thrillerdebate.

More on Off the Wall

More on Martín Perna

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Off the Wall unless indicated otherwise):

  • “Off The Wall”
  • Antibalas: Antibalas “Dirty Money”
  • The Wiz “You Can’t Win”
  • “She’s Out of my Life”
  • Jackson 5: ABC “ABC”
  • “Get On The Floor”
  • “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”
  • “I Can’t Help It”
  • Fela Kuti: Upside Down “Upside Down”
  • “Rock With You”
  • “Burn This Disco Out”
  • “It’a The Falling In Love”
  • “Girlfriend”

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