1990s

EP88: Guy Branum on Ani DiFranco's "Plastic Little Castle" (1998)

| 0 comments
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Guy Branum

The Album: Ani DiFranco: Little Plastic Castle (1998)
Ani DiFranco has never been a pop star by conventional measure but Little Plastic Castle was her dealing with the costs of stardom within her niche of alternative pop/rock world. The result is what's considered one of her best albums ever — it ended up being her best-selling at the very least — one where she tries to work through what happens when public scrutiny and fan indignity begin to feel invasive and you wonder what it's all for. For DiFranco though, she reminds us: she's got better things to do than survive.  
Little Plastic Castle was the pick of our guest, comedian Guy Branum who, until very recently, was the host of the Maximum Fun pop culture panel podcast Pop Rocket (alas, recently cancelled, RIP!). Pre-Heat Rocks, Oliver was on Pop Rocket for two years and got to see, first hand, Guy's pop polymath skills in action. Taped earlier in the spring, live in front of an audience as part of the Voyager Institute series, the three of us discussed DiFranco's album within the context of Lilith Fair-era female artists, the politics of queer authenticity and how her invocation of cherry bombs probably doesn't refer to firecrackers.  
More on Guy Branum

More on Little Plastic Castle

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Little Plastic Castle unless indicated otherwise):

  • Little Plastic Castle
  • Swan Dive
  • Ani DiFranco: 32 Flavors
  • Two Little Girls
  • Glass House
  • Fuel
  • Swan Dive
  • Gravel
  • Independence Day
  • Dizraeli: Bomb Tesco
  • Pulse

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find there
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP87: Vikki Tobak and Joseph Patel on Gang Starr's "Hard to Earn" (1994)

| 0 comments
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Vikkie Tobak
Guests: 
Joseph Patel

The Album: Gang Starr: Hard to Earn (1994)
Gang Starr's Hard to Earn dropped in the pivotal year of 1994, arguably the height of the Golden Era as it came alongside everything from Biggie's Ready to Die to Nas's Illmatic to OutKast's Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Unlike those other debut albums, this was Gang Starr's fourth LP and by '94, they had established themselves as the (no pun intended) premier rap duo, avatars of a boom bap/braggadocio style that would help define an entire era. For DJ Premier, Hard to Earn marked the beginning of his imperial era, where the telltale sound of a Primo scratch was a mark of quality. Meanwhile, G.U.R.U.'s lyrical craft stepped up another notch (even if it was still "mostly tha voice" that got folks up). Fans will debate whether this was Gang Starr's best album but for Morgan and Oliver, it happened to be their favorite by the group. Aight? Chill.
Hard to Earn was the pick of a dynamic duo of guests. First up: Vikki Tobak, author of the astounding new book, Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop, quite possibly the best rap photography book ever created. She was in town as part of the new Contact High exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography (which is up through August, come catch it!). As part of the exhibit, there's a wonderful documentary video that accompanies, assembled by other other guest: Joseph "Jazzbo" Patel. He and Oliver go back to the '90s when both were young writers at URB Magazine and by the '00s, Patel had moved into video content, becoming one of the most influential behind-the-scenes talents at places like Vice TV, MTV, The Fader and Vevo. (He and Vikki are now working on a docu-series based on Contact High). In tackling this album, the four of us discussed everything from the highs and lows of the jazz-hip-hop era of the early '90s to why we need to bring back answering machine/voicemail skits to how to properly pronounce "DWYCK."
More on Vikki Tobak and Joseph Patel

More on Hard to Earn

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Hard to Earn unless indicated otherwise):

  • The Planet
  • Gang Starr: Manifest
  • Speak Ya Clout
  • Intro (The First Step)
  • Gang Starr: Jazz Thing
  • Guru: Loungin'
  • Code of the Streets
  • Mass Appeal
  • DWYCK
  • Aiight Chill
  • Tonz 'O' Gunz
  • Coming for Datazz
  • Speak Ya Clout
  • Crooklyn Dodgers: Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers
  • Suckas Need Bodyguards
  • Gang Starr: The ? Remainz
  • The Planet
  • Tonz 'O' Gunz
  • The Planet
  • Mass Appeal

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find there.
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

Heat Rocks EP78: Heartbreak Radio on the "Chungking Express" soundtrack (1994)

| 0 comments
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Lady Imix
Guests: 
DJ Phatrick

The Album: Chungking Express Soundtrack (1994)
Legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai has long been known for how he integrates pop songs into his films and soundtracks. Chungking Express, Wong's breakout international hit, was no exception as he worked  in everything from '60s folk pop to '70s reggae to '90s alternative in the mix, alongside an original score by longtime composer partners Roel Garcia and Frankie Chan. To discuss the melding of sound, image and story in Wong's fanciful tale of two cops and the women who (may or may not) love them, we brought in the hosts of Heartbreak Radio, Lady Imix and DJ Phatrick.
Heartbreak Radio which began as an internet show devoted to the sounds of "beautiful sadness" and now it broadcasts every two weeks on KQBH LP, 101.5 FM, a micro-transmitter station out of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Imix (aka Sol) and Phatrick (aka Patrick) are now old hands at the sounds of love and longing and it was obvious why they'd want to muse on the music of Chungking Express. Together we talked about how Wong Kar Wai's movies use pop, how the right song can enhance a character and whether or not Oliver is bugging out when he says that he can't stand to hear "California Dreamin'" anymore.
The MaxFunDrive is in full swing! If you like what we do, please consider becoming a monthly supporter. We love making this show and we are able to make it because of your support! Head over to maximumfun.org/donate now!

More on Lady Imix and DJ Phatrick

More on the music of Chungking Express

Show Tracklisting (all songs from the soundtrack of Chungking Express unless indicated otherwise):

  • Fornication in Space
  • Things in Life
  • Heartbreak Interlude
  • Flying Pickets: Only You
  • Los Indios Tabajara: Always in My Heart
  • Nat King Cole: Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
  • What A Difference A Day Makes
  • Urge Overkill: Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon
  • California Dreamin'
  • Lee Moses: California Dreamin'
  • Fornication in Space
  • Things in Life
  • Dreams
  • What A Difference A Day Makes
  • Dreams

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

EP69: Open Mike Eagle on Ol Dirty Bastard's "Return to the 36 Chambers" (1995)

| 0 comments
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Open Mike Eagle

The Album: Ol Dirty Bastard: Return to the 36 Chambers (1995)

"Ain't no father to his style." That's how Ol Dirty Bastard was introduced to the world on 1993's Enter the 36 Chambers by hip-hop's posse supreme, the Wu Tang Clan. At the time, we got an inkling of ODB's eccentricity but on that first Wu album, so overloaded with personalities, it was hard to pluck him out of the stream and think "he might be the Clan's most memorable talent" but two years later, sandwiched between a stream of solo efforts by Method Man, the GZA, Raekwon and Ghostface, ODB put the world on notice with Return to the 36 Chambers. Here was Big Baby Jesus aka Dirt McGirt in all his weird, wonderful glory, with a raspy, rumbling voice that was like no other, singing and rapping in a way that was either wholly unhinged, creatively brilliant or perhaps, both.

These are the part of the mysteries that we tried to unpack with the help of Open Mike Eagle. He's no stranger to Max Fun listeners as OME is half the team behind Tights and Fights, when he's not also helping host the Secret Skin or Conversation Parade podcasts. He also, of course, is a prolific MC himself, with well over a dozen EPs and LPs to his name including last year's What Happens When I Try to RelaxAs you'll hear, Return to the 36 Chambers wasn't just OME's intro to Dirt Dog, it was how he discovered the Wu and he, and hip-hop, would forever be changed.

More on Open Mike Eagle

More on Return to the 36 Chambers

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Return to the 36 Chambers unless indicated otherwise):

  • Shimmy Shimmy Ya
  • Intro
  • Brooklyn Zoo
  • GZA: Investigative Reports
  • Hippa to da Hoppa
  • Thelonius Monk: Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are
  • Cuttin' Headz
  • Raw Hide
  • Brooklyn Zoo
  • Shimmy Shimmy Ya
  • Goin' Down

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there

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

EP58, Women Behaving Badly #5: Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"

| 0 comments
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Joan Morgan

The Album: Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
On August 25, 1998, Lauryn Hill, the breakout rapping/singing star from The Fugees released her first (and only) solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. On August 25, 2018, exactly 20 years later, the Heat Rocks crew invited author Joan Morgan to join us to talk about that album and her new book about that album, She Begat ThisCall it a happy coincidence, call it kismet but either way, call it an amazing conversation. 
It's difficult to overstate the singular importance of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This was a generation before artists like Drake made singing + rapping into a popular form; Lauryn was wading into unknown waters when she put this together. As we discuss, her own label had to be pushed to even put the album out but once they did, it became an instant smash: multi-platinum sales, the first "Best Album" Grammy award for a hip-hop album, and it elevated, for better or for worse, Lauryn - still in her early 20s - to becoming one of hip-hop and R&B's most important figures. Of course, in the years since, controversy has dogged her, especially regarding her live shows and two decades later, her legacy is a complicated one, as we get into. Joan Morgan would have been an ideal guest even if she hadn't written a book about the album; her bonafides as one of the great cultural critics to emerge in the 1990s were already well-established, least of all in her 1999 collection of essays, When Chickenheads Come Home to RoostJoan's based in New York, finishing up a PhD at NYU, but she happened to be in town on that fateful 20th anniversary day to come chat with us.
More on Joan Morgan

More on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
 unless indicated otherwise):
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP49: serpentwithfeet on Björk's "Homogenic" (1997)

| 0 comments
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
serpentwithfeet

The Album: Björk: Homegenic (1997)

Josiah Wise aka serpentwithfeet joined us to talk about one of his biggest influences: Björk and 1997 album, Homogenic. First introduced to her as a child, serpentwithfeet found a kindred spirit in the eclectic creativity of the Icelandic star. That especially extends to Homogenic, which, thanks to Björk and producer Mark Bell, would mark a hard turn from the more pop-friendly sounds of Post towards a new, baroque, electronic majesty. Our conversation touched on the mesmerizing nuances of Björk's voice, the album's heavy embrace of dance music, and what it's like to be a fan of an artist when you don't even know what they look like.

More on serpentwithfeet

More on Homegenic

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

  • All is Full of Love
  • Björk: Bænin
  • All Neon Like
  • Björk: Human Behaviour
  • Joga
  • serpentwithfeet: blisters
  • Unravel
  • serpentwithfeet: whisper
  • All is Full of Love
  • Björk: Hidden Place
  • Hunter
  • Immature
  • Bells Atlas: Bachelorette
  • Unravel
  • Erykah Badu: On & On
  • Radiohead: Exit Music (For a Film)
  • Janet Jackson: Got Til it's Gone
  • Missy Elliott: The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)
  • Roni Size: New Forms
  • Unravel
  • Björk: Pagan Poetry
  • serpentwithfeet: blisters
  • serpentwithfeet: bless ur heart

Here's the Spotify plalist of as many songs as we could find on there
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP48: Tiffany Gouché on Destiny's Child's "The Writing's On the Wall" (1999)

| 0 comments
Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Tiffany Gouché

The Album: Destiny's Child: The Writing's on The Wall (1999)

She sings about love and about longing. Hometown heroine and triple threat (singer/songwriter/producer) Tiffany Gouché (Inglewood, CA) sang her way into our playlists with silky smooth vocals and a production style that reminds us of R&B’s glory days in the 90s, mixed with the eclectic futuristic sound LA music has come to be known for.

She was, therefore, the perfect person to talk Destiny’s child platinum smash heatrock “The Writing’s On The Wall”.

We revisited an album that was full of anthems, an album that Tiffany experienced on cassette tape! Tiffany spoke to us about the layers of inspiration she got from this album as well as what made “Writing’s On The Wall” classic 90s R&B.

More on Tiffany Gouche

More on The Writing's on the Wall

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Writing's on the Wall unless indicated otherwise):

  • Say My Name
  • Bug A Boo
  • Tiffany Gouché: Dive
  • Commisioned and Fred Hammond: So Good to Know (The Savior)
  • Kim Burrell: Holy Ghost
  • Outro (Amazing Grace Dedicated to Andretta Tillman) 
  • Bills, Bills, Bills
  • Hey Ladies
  • Jumpin, Jumpin 
  • Beyonce: Love Drought 
  • Say My Name
  • Bills, Bills, Bills 
  • Usher: I Don't Know 
  • P!nk: There You Go
  • Confessions (feat. Missy Elliott)
  • Now That She's Gone
  • Bug A Boo
  • If You Leave (feat. Next)
  • Aretha Franklin: At Last - Let Me In Your Life Outtake
  • Aretha Franklin: Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I) 

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

EP47: Summer Spectacular feat. Quetzal

| 0 comments
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)

| 0 comments
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

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

EP43: Jesse Thorn on The Coup's "Steal This Album" (1998)

| 0 comments
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!

Syndicate content