Oliver Wang

EP66: Lynell George on David Bowie's "Young Americans" (1975)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Lynell George

The Album: David Bowie Young Americans (1975)

Super cool Grammy winning writer and archivist Lynell George came to know David Bowie's music through celebrated Los Angeles radio station KGFJ. KGFJ blasted the sounds and she received them courtesy of a wrap around Panasonic radio. (Salute!)

She was attracted to the Philly soul sound ever present on David Bowie's Young Americans because Philly soul was in her DNA as she is the daughter of a Philadelphia Native. David Bowie's desire to pay homage to both the black soul music he was fond of and Aretha Franklin, was a shift that most critics weren't prepared for.

We talked about the title track as an ahead-of-its-time commentary on gentrification, UK artists and their love affair with R&B music and the thin line between festishization and fascination.

Sax solos, guitar solos, soulful arrangement galore, Young Americans was the sound of Philadelphia and the sounds of blackness.

Best quote EVER, "you feel like you're walking through humidity" (Lynell George)

She wooed us and schooled us. We'd expect nothing less from a historian and an OG member of David Bowie's fan club.

More on Lynell George

More on Young Americans

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Young Americans unless indicated otherwise):

  • Young Americans
  • Fame
  • David Bowie: Let's Dance
  • David Bowie: TVC15
  • Young Americans
  • Right
  • Across the Universe
  • Young Americans
  • Can You Hear Me
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me
  • The Flares: Foot Stomping (Part 1)
  • David Bowie: Footstompin'
  • Fascination
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me
  • Fascination
  • Fame

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!

EP65: Holiday Music Special with Alonso Duralde

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Alonso Duralde

The Albums:
Vince Guraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Andy Williams' The Andy Williams Christmas Album (1963)
Stax Records' Christmas in Soulsville (2007)

Heat Rocks was hyped to have film critic Alonso Duralde (The Wrap), one of the hosts of Maximum Fun's movie podcast Who Shot Ya? guest with us to talk about our favorite Christmas songs, holiday fare, songs that should play when it's cold outside, baby.

We visit the canon of Christmas music over the years (Andy Williams 1963 The Christmas Album, Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas and Stax Record's 2007 compilation Christmas In Soulsville and across genres and styles - crooners, sweeping orchestral cinematic pieces, summer songs vs. winter songs, modern Christmas traditions, etc.

Alonso broke down the power of nostalgia as it relates to Christmas music and how our tastes in music are informed by tradition.

Don't be a grinch. Listen to this wintery wonderland of an episode about favorite Christmas tracks.

More on Alonso Duralde

Show Tracklisting

  • Booker T and the MG's: Winter Wonderland (Take 2)
  • The Waitresses: Wrapping Paper
  • Ella Fitzgerald: The Christmas Song
  • The Shins: Wonderful Christmastime
  • Michael Jackson: Little Christmas Tree
  • Wild Man Fischer: I'm A Christmas Tree
  • Brian McKnight: Let It Snow
  • Frank Sinatra: White
  • Andy Williams: Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells
  • Andy Williams: Happy Holiday/ The Holiday Season
  • Andy Williams: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  • Andy Williams: Sweet Little Jesus Boy
  • Mariah Carey: All I Want for Christmas is You
  • Vince Guraldi: Christmas Time is Here (Vocal)
  • Vince Guraldi: Christmas Time is Here (Instrumental)
  • Vince Guraldi: Skating
  • Vince Guraldi: O Tannenbaum
  • Vince Guraldi: The Christmas Song
  • Otis Redding: Merry Christmas, Baby
  • The Staple Singers: Who Took the Merry out of Christmas
  • Albert King: Santa Claus Wants Some Loving
  • The Emotions: Black Christmas
  • Isaac Hayes: The Mistletoe and Me
  • Booker T and the MG's: Winter Wonderland (Take 2)
  • Nate Dogg: Be Thankful
  • Little Johnny Taylor: Please Come Home for Christmas
  • Juice Crew: Cold Chillin' Christmas
  • The Free Design: Close Your Mouth It's Christmas
  • Kenny Bobien: Let Us Adore Him (Come O Ye Faithful)

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!

Macy Gray on Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (2010)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Macy Gray

The Album: Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

2018 has been a tough year for Kanye West and Kanye West fans. He's showed up in unlikely places and waxed problematic about virtually everything , earned the ire of some of the West Coast's most loyal representatives, inspired critical analysis , all the while releasing Ye, his eighth solo album, an album as part of a group, and executive producing albums for Teyana Taylor, Pusha T and Nas.

Sure, he's been booked and busy, but also the center of controversy and speculation.

In 2010, he embraced his controversy, on the thirteen track My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.'

Macy Gray joined us to talk about her fanship and hardcore love of this album, why she bumped one song all the way to Vegas, what caused her to rock a "MAKE KANYE GREAT AGAIN" hat for the 'gram and Kanye's impressive production on the album. We talked about Kanye's choice of samples, what can be learned about Kanye via MBDTF and why this album is great, but not his greatest.

Ironically, we recorded this episode before Kanye's SNL appearance.

Eavesdrop. Please.

More on Macy Gray

More on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Show Tracklisting (all songs from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy unless indicated otherwise):

  • Power
  • Macy Gray: I've Committed Murder
  • Macy Gray: Shinanigins
  • Kanye West: Jesus Walks
  • Lost in the World
  • Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Aphex Twin: Avril 14th
  • Blame Game
  • Gil Scott-Heron: Comment 1
  • Who Will Survive in America
  • Bon Iver: Woods
  • Lost in the World
  • Monster
  • Runaway
  • Power
  • Devil in a New Dress
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Runaway

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!

EP62: Iman Omari on J*DaVeY's The Beauty in Distortion (2008)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Iman Omari

The Album: J*DaVeY The Beauty in Distortion (2008)

Heat Rocks co-host Morgan Rhodes is a huge fan of J*Davey and a huge fan of Iman Omari. Naturally she was beyond thrilled when Iman accepted an invitation to come on Heat Rocks and chose J*Davey's 2008 brilliant debut album "The Beauty In Distortion" to discuss.

J*Davey's breakout project was one of the jewels in LA's emerging future soul scene a decade ago. Their sound, a fusion of soul, synth, funk and pop gained a million fans and caught the ear of tastemakers everywhere.

This album had a profound influence on his production choices pushing him in the direction of avant-garde soul.

More on Iman Omari

More on The Beauty in Distortion

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Beauty in Distortion unless indicated otherwise):

  • Division of Joy
  • Everybody Touch It
  • Iman Omari: Midnight
  • Mr. Mister (Future Screw Remix)
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • Finer Things
  • Private Parts
  • Might as Well
  • Everybody Touch It
  • Kim Burrell: Prayer Changes Things
  • Kim Burrell: Holy Ghost
  • Private Parts
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • Division of Joy
  • Everybody Touch It
  • Private Parts
  • Finer Things
  • No More
  • Enterception
  • Camera (Gangsta)

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!

Pop Rocket Ep. 200 Our 200th Episode!

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

This week Pop Rocket celebrates its 200th episode!!! To commemorate this auspicious occasion, Karen, Margaret and Wynter take a look at how each of them has evolved from the quaint, carefree days of 2015 to the unrelenting hellscape that is 2018. Remember the blue dress? Sorry, remember the white dress? They'll reminisce about that fun moment in pop culture, talk Taylor Swift then and now, and how much things have changed in terms of trans visibility from back in 2015 when Caitlyn Jenner sat down for an interview with Diane Sawyer on 20/20, and the strides we've made since then.

In addition, Guy takes us with him to the seaside town of Mendocino and lets us eavesdrop as he attempts to talk to his mother Deb and his niece Olivia about the pop culture they are currently consuming.

All Abouts

Margaret highly recommends There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange.

Wynter is all about Michelle Obama’s new book Becoming, but in audiobook format.

Karen’s into Survivor 37: David vs Goliath.

That's My Jam

Wynter - Rihanna - Bitch Better Have My Money

Karen - Carly Rae Jepsen - Party for One

Margaret - Lower Dens - To Die in L.A.

With Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Margaret Wappler.

Did you know that you can now call and leave voicemails for the show? You can! If you want to comment on an episode, give us any feedback or just call to get advice from a panel member, the number is: (530) 237-4108

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

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

EP60: Chris Molanphy on George Michael's "Faith" (1987)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Chris Molanphy

The Album: George Michael: Faith (1987)

In the fall of 1987, it wasn't a foregone conclusion that George Michael's solo debut, Faith, would be a hit. As successful as Michael had been as half of the Wham! duo, going solo was always going to be a risk but as it turns out, it was one worth taking. Faith turned out to be a runaway hit, not simply a #1 album but spawning four different #1 singles, including the lively title song which became the best-selling song of 1988 in the U.S.

It wasn't without controversy however, especially with conservative outcries against the song, "I Want Your Sex," and its video for being too racy or explicit, all the while Michael, as we learned later, was insinuating hints about his own changing sexual identity into different verses. These were all topics of discussion that came up with our guest, Chris Molanphy, creator and host of the Hit Parade podcast which analyzes chart histories to provide incredibly in-depth discussions about pop music. Chris takes on the sometimes arcane peculiarities of music charts and uses them as a way to jump into far broader discussions about pop trends, figures and transformations. Chris had previous taped an episode of Hit Parade devoted to the parallel careers of Michael and Elton John and he brought that wealth of knowledge to our conversation.

More on Chris Molanphy

More on Faith

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

  • I Want Your Sex (Parts I & II)
  • Wham!: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
  • George Michael: Careless Whisper
  • Hard Day
  • Father Figure
  • I Want Your Sex (Parts I & II)
  • Sinead O'Connor: Nothing Compares 2 U
  • One More Try
  • Hard Day (Shep Pettibone Remix)
  • Hard Day
  • Kissing A Fool
  • Father Figure
  • Hand to Mouth
  • Limp Bizkit: Faith
  • Faith
  • Estelle: No Substitute Love
  • Kissing A Fool

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!

EP 57: Women Behaving Boldly #4: Ann Powers on Madonna's "Like A Prayer" (1989)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Ann Powers

For the fourth installment in our Women Behaving Boldly mini-series, we spin the clock back to an episode we first aired a year ago: Ann Powers, talking about Madonna’s Like a Prayer from 1989. From the beginning, we knew this episode in particular would make a perfect fit with the WBB series. After all, few pop artists, female or male, have done more to transform the pop landscape since the 1980s than Madonna, often times inviting scrutiny and criticism in the process for pushing the proverbial envelope on what people found acceptable by musical artists in that era. And to have Ann Powers, one of the country’s premier music critics, here to break down Madonna’s import was a gift unto itself. If you missed this the first time, we’re excited for you to hear it now. And if you heard it before, revisit this gem from our vaults.

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 (all songs from Like a Prayer unless indicated otherwise):

  • Like a Prayer
  • Madonna: Like a Virgin
  • Till Death Do Us Part
  • Express Yourself
  • Act of Contrition
  • Love Song
  • Cherish
  • Keep it Together
  • Like a Prayer

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!

EP 56: Women Behaving Boldly #3: Joi on Betty Davis' "They Say I'm Different" (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Joi Gilliam

The album: Betty Davis: They Say I'm Different (1974)

As part of our "Women Behaving Boldly" series, we decided to re-air the episode that launched Heat Rocks: our interview with future soul trailblazer and architect, Joi Gilliam.

This was one the pilot episodes we recorded in the spring of 2017 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(all songs from They Say I'm Different unless indicated otherwise):

  • They Say I'm Different
  • Joi: Sunshine & The Rain
  • Bone Crusher: Never Scared
  • Joi: Fatal Lovesick Journey
  • Don't Call Her No Tramp
  • Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him
  • Ice Cube: Once Upon a Time in the Projects
  • They Say I'm Different
  • 70's Blues
  • Special People
  • Joi: If I'm in Luck I Just Might Get Picked Up
  • Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him
  • He Was a Big Freak

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!

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