Review: Peanut Butter Wolf presents “Stones Throw Ten Years”

Peanut Butter Wolf presents
Stones Throw Ten Years
Stones Throw

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Since 1996, Chris Manak, aka Peanut Butter Wolf has proven himself to be left-coast indie hip-hop’s answer to Ahmet Ertegun. His label is instrumental in launching the careers of a disproportionate number of the last decade’s new masters.

Formerly available exclusively at Guitar Center, Stones Throw Ten Years is a two-CD, 25 track retrospective that’s true to the label’s “don’t call it hipster-hop” tradition, offering the indoctrinated an Easter egg hunt for dopeness. The dense collection is galvanized by contributions from alias-happy producer/MC Madlib (also known as alter-ego Quasimoto, part of Lootpack and one-half of Jaylib and Madvillain), MF Doom and the late J-Dilla; and covers the work of lesser-known artists such as producer Oh No, former Jurassic 5 turntablist turned solo act Cut Chemist, indie soul Aloe Blacc and über-abstract MC/Producer Edan (who reworks Mr. Magic’s “Coast To Coast”). PBW steers clear of the overly self-referential, and only includes his work twice, most memorably on “My World Premiere,” recorded with slain partner Charizma.

Although the CD release of formerly wax-only tracks such as Madlib’s self-remix of “Figaro” (from the Madvillain project) might prove noisome to the hardcore vinyl snob, their inclusion further averts dismissal of Stones Throw Ten Years as a mere “best of.” The two discs could have thrown the listener a little more of the early-days Charizma & PBW and more generous with selections from Stones Throw’s ballsy funk & experimental releases. (Nothing from Breakestra? Ouch.) Regardless, the album is a more than adequate primer on the Stones Throw legacy and bodes well for the next ten years.

— d. mcnice

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