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.