Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Stones Throw: Ten YearsRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman
In 1996, Hip-Hop was in the throes of a revolution. The Golden Age, while still fresh in people’s heads, was over. A couple of years earlier, Nas, Biggie and Dr. Dre released blistering debuts, but now, the bling-hop era was slowly on its way to becoming the genre’s national spokesperson.
So maybe it’s just coincidence that in the same year, a small label was formed in San Francisco by local DJ/producer Chris Manek (a.k.a. Peanut Butter Wolf), as he notes, “A Hip-Hop record label of, by and for DJs.” Ten years, 30 albums and countless 7-inch and 12-inch records later, Stones Throw now stands as one of the most forward-thinking labels in Hip-Hop and can
proudly claim partial responsibility for the careers of critical favs such as Madlib and J Dilla. To celebrate, the label has released the stellar Stones Throw: Ten Years (Stones Throw) to being everyone up to speed.
Over 25 tracks, the combination of familiar beats with lesser-known cuts (some previously unreleased on CD) makes Ten Years both a primer for newbies and essential document for those already down. Where 2004’s similar Stones Throw 101 understandably focused on the predominant Hip-Hop side of the label, it’s the diversity of Ten Years that trumps its predecessor. Of
course, the jazz- and soul-influenced Hip-Hop cats get
their shine, but including the Far East electro-funk
of Gary Wilson (“Gary’s in the Park”), the spoken word of Dudley Perkins (“Falling”) and numerous deep funk cuts resurrected by Wolf on various compilations show the sheer breadth of talent that has either resided on, or been discovered by, the label.
Staying in the vein of Manek’s above mantra, the album includes a separate mixed version by Beat Junkies’ J. Rocc. While still an exciting listen, it’ll probably just be a teaser for the full-length songs found on
the first disc. Regardless of which disc you pop in, though, Ten Years showcases a label who came in the midst of a revolution and wound up starting one of its own.