Peanut Butter Wolf Presents…: Chrome Children, Vol. 2

Just one full listen to Peanut Butter Wolf Presents…Chrome Children, Vol. 2 (Stones Throw) and you have to wonder, is there anything Stones Throw can’t do? The cult-status indie label continuously cranks out one quality record after another, reminiscent of Rawkus’ 1990s reign, except with digital savvy. During this era of uncertainty about the direction and future of not only Hip-Hop, but all genres, Stones Throw, under PB Wolf’s guidance, is holding it down for true music heads. That said, only someone with a genuine interest in diverse music, or at least possessing an open mind, could appreciate this eclectic compilation. Boasting an all-star lineup from the Stones Throw family or affiliates, Chrome Children 2 is a 16-track mash up of traditional rap, electronica, avant-garde jazz, throwback soul and just plain awesomely weird stylings that will have you simultaneously nodding and scratching your head. The intro, Madlib’s “Chrome Dreams,” is a brief and busy, spacey sonic blast, complete with video game sounds setting the tone for what the album’s production foundation will be. Futuristic mode continues on the following “Rhymes with an L,” where MED spits over Dabyre’s spare beat. Guilty Simpson checks in with his slow-flow over the off-kilter, robotic “Money Motivated Musings.” Even when the soundtrack is rooted in old soul, as in Roc C’s autobiographical “Living for the City,” there is a faint trace of electro-flash. The same could be said for Gary Wilson’s “Soul Traveling,” clearly soul but laced with all kinds of extraterrestrial sounds.Taking a detour from the spaced-out vibe is “Reverse Part Two,” and who else but unsung veteran Percee P to turn in the most lyrically hard-hitting offering on CC2. The Rhyme Inspector flip his lung-collapsing lyrics like, “Spit means 16s/that’ll rip spleens/bricks, beams/even explode when they hit things,” over a frenetic Middle-Eastern-influenced beat. On the vintage soul tip is Gary Davis’ “Stay With Me.” Tailor-made for something you’d hear in a Blaxploitation flick, the song is a lush, harmonious blend of crashing cymbals, heavy drums and lilting synthesizer making for some serious chill-out music. 1970s soul rarity “Keep Running Away” by Clifford Nyren and edited here by Egon, helps maintain that vibe. Ending CC2 is the 1980s electro classic “Strange Life” by one-time NWA member Arabian Prince, whose presence shouldn’t be surprising given the eclecticism of the compilation. Still, you have to say wow.Chrome Children 2 is a great listen, even though it may scare off novice ears. Hint: the trick to getting through it is to expect the unexpected and—to paraphrase a religious saying—let go and let Stones Throw.