Stones Throw Records 15 Year Anniversary

On December 22, Stones Throw marks its 15th anniversary at the Exchange LA. The line up – featuring DJ sets by Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, Mayer Hawthorne, and Dâm-Funk, performances from veteran MCs like Wildchild (Lootpack), M.E.D. and Percee P as well as newcomers Homeboy Sandman and Jonwayne, and live sets by reggae ensemble The Lions, multi-instrumentalist Jonti and many, many more – celebrates the past and future of a visionary label.

Stones Throw Records was founded in 1996 by DJ/Producer Chris Manak a/k/a Peanut Butter Wolf. Started as a means to release Peanut Butter Wolf’s now-classic debut album with rapper Charizma, Stones Throw has grown over the past decade and a half to become one of the most venerable record labels and leading tastemakers in music.

The diverse roster speaks for itself: producing hip-hop classics including Dilla’s Donuts, Madvillain’s Madvillainy, and Quasimoto’s The Unseen; current retro soul superstars Aloe Blacc and Mayer Hawthorne; and new, breaking acts including psychedelic soulsters the Stepkids, post-punk influenced chanteuse Anika and boogie funk visionary Dâm-Funk. Throughout the years, a legion of devoted fans has come to depend on Stones Throw to introduce them to fresh, innovative artists and deliver the highest quality sounds.

Madlib

From the unlikely beach town of Oxnard, 40 miles north of Los Angeles, the multi-dimensional Madlib quickly rose to prominence as one of the most interesting figures in late-'90s hip-hop. With his childhood buddies in the Lootpack, Madlib quickly made a name for himself as a rapper, producer, and DJ. In particular, his expansive style and deft touch for composition made him one of hip-hop's most sought-after producers. An enthusiastic crate digger, with a deep reverence for jazz and soul, Madlib branched out into a number of ambitious, engaging solo projects.

Along with DJ Romes and Wild Child, Madlib formed the Lootpack in their hometown of Oxnard. The trio made their debut on tha Alkaholiks' 21 and Over in 1993. They continued doing work for tha Alkaholiks and other artists before releasing their full-length Soundpieces: Da Antidote six years later. The album earned solid reviews but went largely unnoticed. Madlib did not, however. After hooking up with Los Angeles DJ Peanut Butter Wolf, Madlib did a lot of production for Wolf's Stones Throw label. In 1999 the label released Quasimoto's astonishing The Unseen LP. Doubling as himself and his alter ego Quasimoto, Madlib handled vocals and production duties on the album, a huge critical success.

Not resting on his laurels, Madlib followed The Unseen a year later with his Yesterday's New Quintet project. Madlib played all the instruments himself, infusing his exploration of jazz with both style and substance.

While continuing on with a massive release schedule and work load, Madlib completed a remix/reinterpretation project for Blue Note, a collaboration with Jay Dee under the Jaylib alias, a collaboration with MF Doom, produced 1/2 of fellow Lootpack member Wildchild's solo record and many other remix and producer tasks all in 2003.

With each year Madlib has continued to expand his abilities beyond the core hip hop that he is known for.

Peanut Butter Wolf

Legendary DJ and producer Peanut Butter Wolf returns to the Bay Area to showcase his influential and stylized hip-hop, a sound that helped change the face of the genre almost 20 years ago. Since the late ‘80s, as a teen in suburban San Jose, PBW has helped define the role of the DJ, elevating it from background slight of hand to the spotlight, channeling choice vinyl cuts, launching labels, and stripping away limitations on his limitless sound.

Originally teamed up with the mesmerizing MC Charizma, the two quickly gained notoriety in the press and in the clubs until the tragic and untimely passing of his partner. After a mournful hiatus, PBW began releasing skilled instrumental albums and, along with the likes of DJ Shadow, ushered in a new era of underground hip-hop. As well as producing and running label Stones Throw Records, PBW extensively tours the world and still releases material via compilations and collaborations. Based now in Los Angeles, the prolific and freewheeling performer’s irreverent edge is still a sharp and street wise sound shaking up the dance floor.

CHARLIE SWANSON

Mayer Hawthorne

Mayer Hawthorne grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, and vividly remembers, as a child, driving with his father and tuning the car radio in to the rich soul and jazz history the region provided. "Most of the best music ever made came out of Detroit," claims the singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, who counts Isaac Hayes, Leroy Hutson, Mike Terry, and Barry White among his influences, but draws the most inspiration from the music of Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, and the legendary songwriting and production trio of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Eddie Holland Jr.

The "retro" tag is added to almost any contemporary work that sounds like it was originally recorded between 1966 and 1974, and Hawthorne, among the newest contributors to the genre, is aware of how trends come and go. After being introduced to Stones Throw label head Peanut Butter Wolf by mutual friend Noelle Scaggs of the Rebirth, even his current boss was skeptical. "He showed me two songs and I didn't understand what I was listening to," Wolf recalls. "I asked him if they were old songs that he did re-edits of – I couldn't believe they were new songs and that he played all the instruments."

And after meeting in person, it was even harder for Wolf to believe that Hawthorne was also the lead vocalist. Few expect such heartfelt sentiment to come from a 29-year-old white kid from Ann Arbor, but he has caught the ear of his family at Stones Throw, as well as BBC Radio 1 host Gilles Peterson and producer/DJ Mark Ronson. Expectations are high for the admitted vinyl junkie who never planned on taking his crooning public. Hawthorne's hanging-by-a-string falsetto and breakbeat production on his first recorded effort, the tender "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out," are simultaneously Smokey and J Dilla – equal parts "The Tracks of My Tears" and "Fall in Love." "It's soul," he explains, "But it's new."

Hawthorne has produced and played instruments for much of his life, but never intended to become a singer. He isn't formally trained, and never sang in the church choir or in any of the bands he was in before founding the County (formerly the County Commissioners). But here he is, new school soul sensation, who has taken the Motown assembly-line production model and eliminated nearly every element but himself and a few hired hands. "I think Mayer is the only artist in the history of the label that I've signed after hearing only two songs," says Peanut Butter Wolf. "Sometimes, you just know it's the right thing to do."

And for those willing to believe anything is possible, be grateful to have Mayer Hawthorne on the scene. It's not just throwback music anymore – this revival is all about progression.

Known as Los Angeles' "Ambassador of Boogie Funk," Dãm-Funk represents the citizens of the Funkmosphere. Headquartered in the Leimert Park section of L.A., Dãm (pronounced: 'Dame' as in Damon) spent the last few years cultivating a musical renaissance rooted in the early-'80s styles known as Boogie, Modern Soul and Electro-Funk.

The next phase of the Ambassador's mission is his debut album Toeachizown: continuing the classic West Coast tradition into today's scene with Dãm's own original "Modern-Funk" compositions. By plugging in his arsenal of vintage synths and drum machines, Dãm channels the galactic harmonies of his inspiration into his own brand of new boogie. Stones Throw Records' like-minded honcho Peanut Butter Wolf brought Dãm on to the team to glide into the future with his unique, synth and bass-driven vibe. It's a promising new chapter for Southern Cali space funk.

MED

Representing the Oxnard, California family of MCs and b-boys that boasts luminaries such as Madlib, Oh No, Declaime, Wildchild and Kan Kick, MED stands out for his “perforating wordplay and extraterrestrial breath control” (URB Magazine). His subject matter reflects the struggles and hustles of a young black man caught between the street life of Oxnard and the nightlife of L.A. Fans receive a healthy dose of muscular lyricism on "Push Comes to Shove", with guest MCs including J Dilla (rapping on and producing the lead single “Push”) and (...oh sh*t!) the one and only Diamond D, for that all-time heavyweight flavor.

Homeboy Sandman

Homeboy Sandman is New York City's premier talent based hip hop musician. Mainstream. Underground. Period.

His latest release "The Good Sun," reached #1 on CMJ's national music chart, and appeared on countless 2010 year end lists, (including HipHopDX's Top 25, #2 on Real Late's Top 30 on Hot 97.1 FM, and #1 on Billy Jam's Top 50 on Amoeba.com) . He has a video ("The Carpenter") in rotation on MTV and has been prominently featured in internationally recognized hip hop publications such as XXL and The Source, as well by non genre-specific press outlets such as FADER and The LA Times. On the heels of starring in an episode of MTV MADE (which documented him training a San Diego teen in the artform of hip hop), he has been handpicked by celebrated UK tastemaker Gilles Peterson (of BBC1) to perform at 2011's World Wide Awards, and is indeed on the cusp of going global. Prioritizing quality content, live shows, and fan building ahead of hype, he is the blueprint for the self-sustaining, landscape shifting, indie artist in the young millenium.

Oh No

Once he put his own sonic stamp on the composer’s inimitable material, Oh No pitched the 70-plus beats he made to the MCs in his network. A formidable cast heeded his call to lyrically bless – from veterans like De La Soul’s Posdnuos and DITC legend A.G. to current indie powerhouses like Murs and Vast Aire. Longtime Oh No comrades like LMNO, M.E.D., Aloe Blacc, Wildchild and Dudley Perkins do their parts, while appearances from Buckshot of Black Moon and Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers lend additional weight to the all-star cast. While he only touches the mic on three tracks here, Oh No’s production efforts alone prove that he is one of those musical mavericks who – like Galt – hear the unheard rhythms first, and lead the way for the rest.

Steve Arrington

Steve Arrington (born Steven Ralph Arrington, March 5, 1956), is an American singer, songwriter, drummer, record producer, engineer and minister, who grew up in Dayton, Ohio.

In September 2010, Stones Throw Records announced that Arrington was working with producer Dâm-Funk on a new album, by making "I Be Trippin" available for listening. In February, Arrington did an interview with The Revivalist and told them his new album, "Love, Peace and Funky Beatz" was due out late summer early fall 2011.

"When I think of how to write about Jonti's music, I don't feel like writing at all. I feel like drawing a picture, with watercolors and maybe crayon - colorful, abstract, youthfully curious and open to interpretation. Maybe then I'd staple, glue or nail some found objects to it, re-contextualizing their intended purpose into something strange and beautiful."
- Jeremy Sole (Radio Host, KCRW)

Vex Ruffin

On paper Vex Ruffin's music is simple: an untrained punk musician who uses a few basic instruments in uncomplicated ways, he calls the style 'minimalist.' Although it may not seem like it upon first listen, Vex's music is rooted in sampling and hip hop beat-making culture. The SP 303 sampler provides the drums and other sounds, a purchase inspired by Madlib.

Vex is the first and only artist signed to Stones Throw Records on the strength of an unsolicited demo sent through the mail. Peanut Butter Wolf recalls, "It was kind of a fluke that I listened. I just liked the drawing on the cover so I decided to check it out. I called the phone number on the CD and Vex thought I was his friend playing a practical joke."

These days, Vex is playing shows around LA and OC as a 3-piece band while getting ready for his debut EP release on Stones Throw in July and his full length at the end of 2011. He just played his dream gig at The Smell and is now ready for Coachella and 106 & Park.

The Lions

The Lions is a unique 12-piece Jamaican-inspired outfit, the result of an impromptu recording session by some of Los Angeles' most soulful and notable musicians and singers. Gathering at Orgone's Killion Studios during the fall of 2006, The Lions created grooves that went beyond the Jamaican music spectrum by combining new and traditional rhythms, and dub mixing mastery with the global sounds of Ethiopia, Colombia and Africa. The result was the album Jungle Struttin' released on Ubiquity Records. The Lions is an example of the ever-growing musical family found in the Southland. Believe it or not, there is a vibe to be found in the spread out, artificial Hollywoodland. Many of the players met through the LA staple rare groove outfit Breakestra and have stayed within various projects together throughout the past 10 years.



The Lions' live show is a mix of dubbed out tracks from the LP featuring Black Shakespeare (I & I Soundsystem) and a large selection of classic Jamaican cuts and brand new originals featuring the harmonies of Alex Desert and Deston Berry of Hepcat and Malik Moore of Los Angeles underground legends Ocean 11. Other members play or have played with the Wailing Souls, Derrick Morgan, The Maytones, "The Ethiopian" Leonard Dillon, Macy Gray, Orgone, Connie Price & the Keystones, Rocky Dawuni and Joey Altruda.

They have graced the stages at Sunset Junction Festival, Roxy Theatre (opening for Ooklah the Moc), Dub Club @ The Echoplex, Troubadour (opening for Antibalas), Key Club, The Continental Room, Crash Mansion, UC Riverside's The Barn, and recently performed to a packed house at Amoeba Music Hollywood.

Strong Arm Steady

Strong Arm Steady is a rap/hip hop group consisting of members Mitchy Slick, Phil Da Agony & Krondon.

Originally, Xzibit was the frontman of Strong Arm Steady, until he left the group in 2006. Talib Kweli's Blacksmith Records signed Strong Arm Steady to his label in 2007. "Arms & Hammers" is set to release in 2009, but since Warner Brothers dropped Blacksmith Records from their roster due to the recession, no official date has been set.

They are considered part of California's underground hip hop scene. Over the years they have recorded many mixtapes and have distributed them all over the world.

In 2009 they have announced two albums: Arms & Hammers (for 2010) and Stoney Jackson, a collaboration with Madlib for 2009 or 2010 release

Rhettmatic

DJ Rhettmatic (born Nazareth Rhett Nirza) is a member of the Beat Junkies DJ crew. Rhettmatic began his DJ career in 1983 with the DJ group Double Platinum, and was one of the founding members of Beat Junkie crew.
In 1995, Rhettmatic released an album with partner, KeyKool (MC/Producer), Kozmonautz. Key-Kool & Rhettmatic's album is regarded as one of the first nationally recognized hip-hop albums by an Asian-American group, and received critical acclaim by notable hip-hop publications such as the Source Magazine, Rappages, Rap Sheet, URB Magazine.

In 1996, Rhettmatic claimed the title of DMC (Disco Mix Club) West Coast Champion, and in 1997 along with fellow Beat Junkies DJ Babu, DJ Melo-D and DJ J-Rocc, claimed the title of ITF (International Turntablist Federation) Team World Champions.

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