the internet is an INTERESTING place.
when i did my 120th EPISODE of DEER GOD RADIO back during the height of the pandemic in april of 2021, i chose to highlight a SMALL but highly INFLUENTIAL record label responsible for some of my FAVORITE HIP HOP artists of all-time in MF DOOM, MADLIB and the producer J DILLA. it was part of an ONGOING series featuring the ROSTERS of various (mostly INDEPENDENT) RECORD LABELS including at that point LIKE-MINDED firms such as 4AD, DOMINO, STAX, GREENWAY, SUB POP and CHESS and has gone on to include DFA, CARPARK, MATADOR, WARP, NACIONAL, DISCHORD, SARGENT HOUSE, FAT POSSUM, STIFF, FOOL'S GOLD and METAL BLADE to date. for all of these SHOWS i created parodies of their respective LOGOS to say "DEER GOD" instead of their actual name. these are of varying quality but made in GOOD FUN and on SOCIAL MEDIA i routinely tag the LABEL to both let them know about the SHOW and the NONPROFIT RADIO STATION MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC as well as make them aware that i am utilizing, but absolutely not profiting off of their INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.
what is intriguing to me is that up until this point, for three years i had gotten pretty good responses from some of the ARTISTS and LABELS that i parodied and highlighted on my BI-WEEKLY RADIO SHOW. in fact, in the two years since (and over 200+ total episodes), never anything remotely NEGATIVE happened until STONES THROW, which i will readily admit saddened me. and its not like they did anything particularly intense, just mocking me with two new versions of their circular LOGO stating "WRONG FONT" and "BUT THANKS" on TWITTER. and point taken, DEER GOD has seven letters while STONES THROW has eleven, so the font wasn't completely a one-to-one facsimile. i was just surprised that they would PUNCHING DOWN at someone promoting their LABEL and ROSTER. i took the time and effort to create a playlist of their ECLECTIC ROSTER and talk during a two-hour SHOW about why their LABEL mattered to me, and they effectively SHIT ON ME. or rather the sadly inevitable VILE comment section thereafter did. if it was a direct message from STONES THROW id have been in on the joke and laughed, but there is something about making it public and having their fans make judgements about me that kinda soured me on their whole operation. which is UNFORTUNATE. they are a RELEVANT underground LABEL that continually promotes unknown artists of an ELEVATED artistic caliber in spite of the whims of the industry at large. but i guess they are also pretty ELITIST in the process as well. my experience being case in point. or maybe i am just too THIN-SKINNED.
anyway, below is the EPISODE in question if interested. investigating MADLIB, MF DOOM and J DILLA is most definitely worth your time for the uninitiated.
REST IN PEACE DANIEL DUMILE and JAMES DEWITT YANCEY.
photo & text by nacrowe
by the time of his untimely passing in 2006 at the young age of thirty-two from cardiac arrest related to his ongoing battle with LUPUS, LEGENDARY DETROIT HIP HOP producer J DILLA was an INNOVATIVE, highly sought after COLLABORATOR and BEAT-MAKER of the first order whose INSPIRED COMPOSITIONS were appreciated and utilized by the likes of A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, DE LA SOUL, RAEKWON, THE PHARCYDE, D'ANGELO, ERYKAH BADU and COMMON to BUSTA RHYMES, THE ROOTS, EMINEM, MF DOOM, BILAL, REDMAN, MADLIB and TALIB KWELI among many others before and after his passing. his UNIQUE sense of RHYTHM, which he performed by hand on his AKAI MPC3000 sequencer-sampler, made use of disengaging the quantize setting (which when engaged essentially sets everything to a grid).
let's take a moment to make one thing absolutely clear.
J DILLA did not live on the grid. he was his own METRONOME and basically humanized HIP HOP production making the RIGID TECHNOLOGY ebb and flow organically almost like a JAZZ MUSICIAN. he referred to such RHYTHMIC EXPERIMENTATIONS as "drunk funk." his touch is something that has influenced countless producers in his wake, but obviously has not been replicated. DONUTS (STONES THROW, 2006) proved to be his final recording and was created as his DIMINISHED and ENFEEBLED physical limitations rendered him wheelchair-bound as he was losing his battle with LUPUS. the album showcases a SINGULAR composer and BEAT-MAKER at the top of his game (and the profession) as his SOUNDSCAPES and COLLAGES seamlessly transition from one EVOCATIVE aural landscape to the next. it proves that in spite of his physical debilitation, his CREATIVE SPARK and COGNITIVE ABILITIES were as on point as ever right to the end. such can be heard on STANDOUT tracks such as "GEEK DOWN," "TWO CAN WIN," "DON'T CRY," "WORKINONIT," "U-LOVE," "GOBSTOPPER" and "LAST DONUT OF THE NIGHT." my suggestion however is to listen to DONUTS in its entirety as one extended sonic MEDITATION.
it does not disappoint and is a fitting EXCLAMATION POINT on a career and talent cut down way too soon. his legacy is continued by those who take INSPIRATION from his SOUND including current PIONEERING producers and musicians like FLYING LOTUS, PHARRELL WILLIAMS, THUNDERCAT, DANGER MOUSE and TERRACE MARTIN among others. its interesting to consider that in retrospect many critics have considered him to be more of a JAZZ musician than a HIP HOP producer which only further proves his SUBTLE TOUCH and DEFT MUSICALITY that seemingly knew no limitations. his ART very much seemed to be a flawlessly composed, direct EMOTIONAL expression in and of the current moment a la JOHN COLTRANE, MAX ROACH or THELONIOUS MONK.
RIP JAY DEE
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO focused on the eclectic independent record label STONES THROW RECORDS owned, operated and curated by the inimitable PEANUT BUTTER WOLF.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
photo manipulation by nacrowe
after i graduated from undergrad i took a job at a bookstore and one of the other clerks was really into underground music. stuff id never been exposed to previously. bands like STEREOLAB, PAVEMENT and GALAXIE 500. that was cool and interesting and all, but the real revelation was what he was into in terms of HIP HOP, having clued me into the likes of MADLIB, MF DOOM and J DILLA. i believe those three are what many consider the preeminent artists from STONES THROW RECORDS. just the energy, creativity and dynamism of those three artists was the closest i ever got to the qualities that previously led me to my all-time favorite HIP HOP acts: the WU-TANG CLAN and A TRIBE CALLED QUEST. as with anything, you get jaded by what you know, and then new artists get the wheel going all over again. STONES THROW is a label in my opinion in constant search of new sounds and new experiences.
OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON: THIS IS STONE'S THROW RECORDS (GATLIN PICTURES, 2013) is documentary that looks into the artists supported and curated by the innovative label and its founder, CHRIS MANAK, a.k.a PEANUT BUTTER WOLF. peers such as a A-TRACK (FOOL'S GOLD RECORDS) TALIB KWELI, KANYE WEST, COMMON, MIKE D of BEASTIE BOYS, EARL SWEATSHIRT, QUESTLOVE, FLYING LOTUS, TYLER THE CREATOR, J-ROCC and SNOOP DOGG are interviewed in this film along with past and current and roster-mates such as MADLIB, MF DOOM, J DILLA, DAM-FUNK, MILD HIGH CLUB, JAMES PANTS, MAYER HAWTHORNE, ALOE BLACC, GUILTY SIMPSON, J-ROCC and BARON ZEN among many others.
in essence this film is bout WOLF and his eclectic musical tastes and how he fearlessly throughout the history of his label sought to put out music he believed in. even when considering the threadbare profit margins of independent labels, before and after the digital file-sharing revolution of the early 00s, there has always been a base marketing template followed a desired demographic chased. yes the iconic records both solo and collaborative by the likes of MADLIB, J DILLA and MF DOOM will largely define the label to many an indie music appreciator and vinyl junkie alike, but there been just as many records with, as FRANK ZAPPA used to say, "no commercial potential." STONES THROW is responsible just as much for FUNK, R&B, experimental NOISE ROCK and SHOEGAZE INDIE ROCK records. the through-line essential is WOLF and his musical taste, for good or ill.
i feel that during a time when labels are attempting to optimize their profits by seeking music that will stimulate the most widespread of demographics, it is refreshing that there is someone out there whose basic requirement for inclusion is the quality of the work itself. WOLF doesnt appear to be chasing a market, if anything he is cultivating a consumer base that will grow to appreciate his offerings and give an unbiased listen, irrespective of genre or other considerations. i think for artists that is all you can really hope for: exposure to an engaged audience and a community of supportive peers.
if only that was the norm in the music industry.
join us TONIGHT at 10PM EST for an all new episode of DEER GOD RADIO on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC with a playlist that explores the influential HIP HOP / R&B / INDIE ROCK / FUNK music that has come out via the iconic indie label STONE THROW RECORDS over the years.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience