de-VICE #2

peanut butter wolf / stones throw

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de-VICE #1

de-vice_peanut_butter.jpg

text by the debonair
mr. timothy colman, esq.




To make it in the music industry it's essential to be noticed.

Californian DJ Peanut Butter Wolf had a novel idea when attending a Beastie Boys concert in his teenage years.

"I was about 17, in high school, and I threw a demo tape of me scratching wrapped in my high school year book photo at them," he says. "It didn't work, but I did get to do a remix for them a few years back. I've never actually met them though; if I do, I'll them that story."

While that particular tactic failed Peanut Butter Wolf still managed to carve out his own niche in hip hop through a vinyl obsession.

At the age of nine, when he was simply known as Chris Manak, he was buying funk and soul records before progressing to hip hop. Founding Stones Throw Records in 1996, he's always pushed the vinyl format, even in the face of changing music technologies.

It's certainly a surprise then to visit the label's website and find its catalogue available through digital download via Apple's iTunes.

"We're not selling more through iTunes yet, but it is something I see getting more popular every month," says Manak. "It is a way to get the people who are only after one song, others buy the whole album too. It's one of those if you can't beat them, join them deals."

What makes the move even more surprising is Manak still has trouble embracing CD technology, despite a decline in vinyl sales.

"Personally I like vinyl the best," he says. "CDs for me are small, they get scratched, I loose them and can't organise them. I hate them, actually. Vinyl has become one percent of our sales, well not that small - probably 10 percent. It's not something I like to think about."

Since saving his lunch money for vinyl back in the 1980s, Manak has amassed an impressive record collection. His reputation for acquiring obscure hip hop, funk and rare groove breaks which litter the outskirts of the genres but are still accessible on the dance floor has taken him to turntables across the globe.

While he's been lucky to visit some exotic locations, seeing the standard sights hasn't been high on his list. In fact seeing the sights in his own town hasn't been a priority.

"When I'm travelling I spend all my time off in record stores," says Manak. "For me it's more important to go to the record stores then see any of the tourist attractions. My friend from New York was over here recently and he realised he'd never been to the Statue of Liberty, he's lived there all his life. When I was living in San Francisco, it was the same thing, I'd never been to Alcatraz - but I'd been to every record store."

To get an idea of Manak's far reaching tastes, simply take a look at the Stones Throw back-catalogue. Beginning as a simple hip hop label, it's since branched into a more experimental area.

Home to hip hop eccentric, Madlib, the label is also famous for its re-issues of abstract jazz, psychedelic and funk records. There's even a punk release. Largely ignored when they were initially released, Manak finds a similar reaction when he re-issues them.

"When we release it, it's slept on too," he says. "When we first were doing it we thinking, 'Great this record only sold 500 copies the first time round; we're going to sell like a million'. But we still have a hard time finding people who understand it the way we do and appreciate it as much.

"Whether it sells 3,000 or 30,000, we're equally happy working with it."

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peanut butter charmer

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