hip-hop

EP97: Summer Spectacular feat. Quetzal (redux)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Quetzal

The Albums:

Note: This is a rerun of an episode from 2018 that has been re-edited and remastered.

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 2017'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: Olokun y Yemayá
  • Alé Kumá: Las Olas De La Mar
  • Alé Kumá: Volá Pajarito
  • Alé Kumá: ¿Por Qué Me Pegá?
  • Alé Kumá:Oiaymeló
  • Mary J Blige: Love No Limit
  • Mary J Blige: Slow Down
  • Mary J Blige: Reminisce
  • Mary J Blige: Sweet Thing
  • Mary J Blige: What's the 411?
  • Mary J Blige: Leave a Message
  • Mary J Blige: I'll Do 4 U
  • Mary J Blige: You're All I Need
  • Mary J Blige: I Don't Want to Do Anything
  • The Smiths: Sheila Take a Bow
  • The Smiths: Shoplifters of the World Unite
  • The Smiths: Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want
  • The Smiths: Half a Person
  • The Smiths: Panic
  • Kendrick Lamar: Momma
  • Kendrick Lamar: You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)
  • Kendrick Lamar: Alright
  • Kendrick Lamar: These Walls
  • Kendrick Lamar: i

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

Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone Ep 48: To Pimp a Butterfinger

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Guests: 
Jae Deal
Guests: 
Sean Hughes

Paula's righteous rage at the allegedly "improved" Butterfinger recipe has boiled over, and renowned composer, producer and professor Jae Deal is on hand to help her channel that rage through rap. Also, we provide a visual guide to facial cues for our listeners, all while contending with an unexpected Komodo dragon.

Guest:
Jae Deal
Award-winning composer, music producer and orchestrator. Professor, USC’s Thornton School of Music
Website: jaedeal.net
IG: @jaedeal
Twitter: @jaedeal
Facebook: @jaedeal100

House band:
Sean Hughes, guitar
Website: seanhughes.net

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

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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!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Avantdale Bowling Club

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tom Scott

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Photo: Bandcamp

New Zealand rapper Tom Scott on his latest project: 'Avantdale Bowling Club'

Tom Scott is a rapper from New Zealand's underground hip-hop scene. He's been rapping for over a decade now. He grew up in Auckland – the biggest city in a very small country. Last year, Tom released an amazing, beautiful album under the name Avantdale Bowling Club. He named it after the place where he grew up.

On the record, he reflects on his roots. His childhood. The friendships he's lost. The places he's been. His family. He kicks things off with an autobiography on "Years Gone By." It's an intimate hip hop record with jazz instrumentation. The sound is lush. Maybe less Low End Theory, more to Pimp a Butterfly. It's pretty remarkable.

Tom explains why he left Auckland for Australia, and what brought him back to his hometown after spending many years away. Plus, what it's like to write an album that brings back somber memories, and why Tom felt it was important to use original jazz songs, rather than jazz samples.

Check out the self-titled record by Avantdale Bowling Club here.

Check out this interview on YouTube!

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

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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!

EP63: G Yamazawa on Kanye West's "The College Dropout" (2004)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
G Yamazawa

The Album: Kanye West: College Dropout (2004)

Kanye has had a...not great year. From a public relations standpoint, it's been nothing short of a disaster. And yet...'Ye remains one of the most intriguing (if not also infuriating) pop acts we have, evinced to us by the fact that two different guests - rapper G Yamazawa and R&B legend Macy Gray - both asked to talk about Kanye West albums when they came on our show. By further coincidence, they came on the same day to tape which also happened to be the day of West's now-infamous Saturday Night Live appearance. West was also supposed to drop a new album that evening, Yandhi (spoiler alert: he didn't). Sufficed to say, all things pointed West that day, so much so that we were a little worried about releasing these episodes lest our listeners were suffering from too much Kanye fatigue.

And yet...both conversations (the Macy Gray episode, about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will drop next week) were so compelling that we couldn't help ourselves. This one, with Yamazawa, was especially great in revisiting the old Kanye, chop-up-the-soul Kanye of College Dropout, where the young producer-turned-rapper came firing out the gate, putting the hip-hop world on notice that "oh sh---, Kanye raps too?" For G Yamazawa, then a young'un growing up in Durham "North Cack," West made a huge impression with his humor, sly politics and of course, the beats. Yamazawa, now relocated to L.A., knows something about sliding between worlds as a former champion spoken word poet turned MC (peep his new Money Is Time album) and together, we discussed what it was like for all of us to discover West's new persona back then, his taste in samples, and what era of West we gravitate towards.

More on G Yamazawa

More on College Dropout

Show Tracklisting (all songs from College Dropout unless indicated otherwise):

  • The New Workout Plan
  • G Yamazawa: Drumma Some
  • Chaka Khan: Through the Fire
  • Through the Wire
  • Last Call
  • All Falls Down
  • Slow Jamz
  • Lil Jimmy Skit
  • Workout Plan
  • Spaceship
  • Little Brother: Slow it Down
  • Luther Vandross: A House Is Not A Home
  • Slow Jamz
  • Marvin Gaye: Distant Lover
  • Spaceship
  • The ARC Choir: Walk With Me
  • Jesus Walks
  • All Falls Down (Demo)
  • All Falls Down
  • Intro
  • Kanye West: Wake Up Mr. West
  • Breathe In Breathe Out
  • Jesus Walks
  • I'll Fly Away
  • Get Em High
  • Last Call
  • All Falls 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!

EP61: Jeff Weiss on Drakeo the Ruler's "Cold Devil" (2017)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Jeff Weiss

The Album: Drakeo the Ruler: Cold Devil (2017)

When we invited L.A. music writer Jeff Weiss to join us, he was adamant that there was only one release he wanted to talk about: Cold Devil, the full-length, acclaimed mixtape that the upstart Los Angeles rapper, Drakeo the Ruler, dropped nearly a year ago. Drakeo is part of the Stinc Team and is helping lead a wave of emergent talents that also includes 03 Greedo, Ketchy the Great and Ralfy the Plug.

The longtime writer behind The Passion of the Weiss music blog, Jeff has been championing Drakeo for several years now and in particular, he's written extensively on the rapper's tumultuous legal challenges, including first interviewing Drakeo when he was locked up. Our conversation touched on Drakeo's legal situation, the rapper's gift of slanguistic gab and the current state of West Coast rap music.

More on Jeff Weiss

More on Cold Devil

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Cold Devil unless indicated otherwise):

  • Out the Slums
  • Drakeo the Ruler: Mr. Get Dough
  • Big Banc Uchies
  • Flu Flamming
  • Ion Rap Beef
  • Red Tape, Yellow Tape
  • Flu Flamming
  • Neiman and Marcus Don't Know You
  • Flu Flamming
  • Out the Slums
  • Blamped

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!

EP59, Women Behaving Badly #6. Evelyn McDonnell on Janelle Monae's "Dirty Computer" (2018)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Evelyn McDonnell

The Album: Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer (2018)

To close out our Women Behaving Boldly mini-series, we brought things all the way up to the present by tackling a 2018 album. Our guest, music writer and journalism professor Evelyn McDonnell wanted to talk about Atlanta's Janelle Monae and her recent LP, Dirty Computer.

Between her various alter egos and concept-driven albums, Monae's been a critic's darling since she first broke out ten years ago and the intervening decade hasn't dimmed her creative appeal a bit. Dirty Computer, and its accompany mini-movie of music videos, touches on many of Monae's favorite themes: sci-fi futures (some good, some not so good), fluid identities (including her own evolving sexuality), and some of the most soul/funk/rock/pop concoctions you can imagine.

If Monae's recent gem was a perfect capstone to our six weeks of Women Behaving Boldly, it was perfectly matched by the guest who chose it. McDonnell is one of the most accomplished music journalists of her generation, having previously written the books Queens of Noise, about the Runaways, Army of She, which is about Bjork, and Mamarama, which is about Evelyn herself.  Her latest is the massive anthology, Women Who Rock, a 400 page edited anthology that focuses on over 100 of the most important women in pop music history, written by many of our favorite writers including both Lynnee Denise and Ann Powers, both of whom also contributed to our Women Behaving Boldly series.

More on Evelyn McDonnell

More on Dirty Computer

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Dirty Computer unless indicated otherwise):

  • Make Me Feel
  • Janelle Monae: Sincerely, Jane
  • Janelle Monae: Tightrope
  • Pynk
  • I Like That
  • So Afraid
  • I Like That
  • Pynk
  • Aerosmith: Pink
  • Django Jane
  • Screwed
  • Make Me Feel
  • Americans
  • Don't Judge Me
  • The RH Factory: Poetry

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"

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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!

EP47: Summer Spectacular feat. Quetzal

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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!

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