Stones Throw: Ten Years


Artist: Various
Album: Stones Throw: Ten Years
Label: Stones Throw
Rating: 5/5

In a 1959 interview with The Jazz Review, Thelonious Monk was quoted as saying, “[P]lay your own way. Don't play what the public wants. You play what you want and let the public pick up on what you're doing — even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years.” Similarly, on the Stones Throw website, Peanut Butter Wolf discusses his roster of artists: “As executive producer, I don't put out what I think the people will like, I put out what I like. This has worked for me so far, and if it stops working for me, it will be the end of Stones Throw as a label.” So is Peanut Butter Wolf presents Stones Throw: Ten Years just a collection of his fave tracks? Or can it be conceived of as a missive on the state of Hip-Hop and Stones Throw's contribution to it?

You would have to be sleeping under a rock for the past ten years to not have noticed the Stones Throw juggerknaut gaining momentum. Often unrefined, at times staggered and sloppy amalgamations of music, the present output of Stones Throw is a reiteration of their reissues: Rough, funky and highly creative music.

This compilation features a bonus disc, which has all of the same songs, bu in truncated and mixed format, courtesy of J. Rocc. Mixing this catalog is a daunting and thankless task. Although the transitions generally work, the additional disc doesn't seem to warrant the mix. Additionally, the tracks are two varied to really feel like a cohesive, solitary mix; they are better left as they are, a scattered helping of Stones Throw's vanguard, revisionist history, and downright strange cuts.

Let's quickly discuss the odd, uncategorizable cuts, as they are the least integral to the catalog: Funkaho, the artist behind “My 2600” brings the irreverent “Bootay” (This and two other tracks, seem to be George Clinton thump-inflected; the others are the raw, organic thump of Koushik's “Be With” to the slow, grimy west-coast prowling thump of Homeless Derelix' “Survivin' the Game”). A lush and mournful Madlib setting gives Dudley Perkins a foundation for spoken word on “Falling.” (Madlib's free-jazz outfit Yesterday's New Quintet also makes an appearance.) Gary Wilson's “Gary in the Park” is a pervy barroom ditty unsuitable for bumping and grinding (and listening), but the lo-fi synthetics and stalker-vibe stand as a testament to the many shades of Stones Throw.

Stones Throw has dispensed a series of reissues that seek to rewrite the old-school: The Third UnheardFunky Sixteen Corners states the case for a number of underground funk artists from the seventies. From that compilation, we get the alt. version (includes some cuts on the breakbeat) of “What About You?” by the Co-Real Artists. It's an amusing posse cut about struggling with moral issues, and plays off of Isaac Hayes' “Bad Mother – Shut your mouth!” punchline from the Shaft soundtrack. The smooth-jazz hook on Stark Reality's “Comrades & Dreams” is vibraphone by Monty Stark himself, who devised these compositions as settings for the simple and savage children's poems of Hoagy Carmichael (“Once I was a dancer / And once a necromancer / I even was a Viking / With helmet on my head”).Jukebox 45s and “Coast to Coast” (a Mr. Magic selection from the Third Unheard collection) keeps the b-boys happy with some serious disco rock. seeks to carve a niche for early Hip-Hop scene of Connecticut; The Fabulous Souls' “Take Me” is an organ-and-horn driven funk track that took a turn on PB Wolf's

The modern Stones Throw repertory is a selection of assaults on (and revisions of) the emcee/deejay relationship. Which is to say that at least two of the producer/deejays (Madlib and the late-great J-Dilla) make appearances as emcees – the most notable example, of course, is the munchkin-pitched Madlib incarnation: Quasimoto. The emcee/deejay relationship is discussed by M.E.D. on “Blind Man”; he intones: “We keep it true to the finish like Cut Chemist / witness rare loops and raw lyrics quaking your spirit.” Another tour de force is “Knicknack,” on which DJ Rels scratches while Madlib flips the staggered, detuned vibes-n-horns; and above the cacophony is a playful trio freaturing Wildchild, Percee P and M.E.D.: “Y'all had enough, I retire. Percee P inherits.” / “Yo, M.E.D., I say give 'em some more.” / “Percee, I'm cool. Wildchild, show the people what you got in store.” Oh No and Roc 'C' take turns on Dilla's Fugal “Move Pt. 2” (a more sophisticated technique, but in the same vein of Doug E Fresh's use of the Inspector Gadget theme on “The Show”). Finally, two selections (one a remix) are culled from the instant-classic and collabo-of-collabos: Madvillain.

Well, that's a bit to digest already, but it would be a dis-service to not mention why this label started in the first place: Charizma and PB Wolf's collaboration was cut short by Charizma's untimely death. To service his memory, PB Wolf started Stones Throw, and led off with “My World Premiere” by Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf as the first 12-inch release. The track is certainly not their most captivating effort, and definitely not the Wolf's finest work from that sadly short-lived collaboration (the full length LP was released in '03); but the song has a definite playful, and raw, in-the-cypher feel, and a few good punchlines (“I left my rhymes in a shoebox / A week later I opened it was Timbalands”).

I've have to give this one a 5 out of respect for Stones Throw. To me, if I came upon all these tracks on one record – having not known these artists before – it'd be mind-blowing. So for ten years of crazy hits to be packaged on one record, I think it's deserving.

So there you have it. If Thelonious Monk's estimations are correct, then the general public should start catching up on this work in a bout five years, at which point I hope to be able to report that Stones Throw has continued to outpace them – and the whole of mainstream Hip-Hop – entirely.yea, no worries.

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