Stones Throw Tour
Peanut Butter Wolf -
Chris Manak, aka Peanut Butter Wolf, is a DJ and Hip Hop producer originally from San Jose, California who has been active since 1989 when he produced a song by Lyrical Prophecy called "You Can't Swing This". In 1990 he began to work with Charizma, an emcee, and both of them were soon signed to Hollywood Basic, a division of Disney. Although they recorded a full album of material, it would not be released for many years - in 1993 the group left the label due to lack of artistic freedom, their only release being a cassette demo of their single "Red Light, Green Light", and in the same year Charizma was tragically killed.
Saddened and without an emcee to work with, Peanut Butter Wolf continued making music. He put out a song ("The Chronicles") on the now legendary Return of the DJ, Vol. 1 compilation and a collection of beats for DJ's ('Peanut Butter Breaks'). Return of the DJ is known as the first all-DJ album, which helped to start the careers of turntablist artists such as DJ Q-bert, Cut Chemist, DJ Z-Trip, and others.
In 1996, Peanut Butter Wolf formed Stones Throw Records and released its first single, Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf's "My World Premiere."
Peanut Butter Wolf released his own solo album on Stones Throw, My Vinyl Weighs a Ton, in 1999. Since then he has nearly given up producing to focus on DJing and executive producing projects for his label, most notably Madlib, whose group Lootpack he signed in 1998 after hearing their demo on a college radio station.
As Stones Throw Records raised its visibility in the 2000s with noted hip hop releases by Madlib's Quasimoto, Yesterdays New Quintet, Jaylib (J Dilla and Madlib) and Madvillain (MF Doom and Madlib), it has also expanded to include funk and hip hop re-issues, and experimental jazz and electronic music. In 2006 Peanut Butter Wolf served as presenter for Stones Throw & Adult Swim's Chrome Children CD/DVD.
THE YEAR IS 2001 AND THE PLACE IS TEXAS. Stones Throw head honcho Peanut Butter Wolf is DJing while a sharply dressed young man approaches the DJ Booth with his Prom date in tow to formally introduce himself. Thus begins the story of James Pants.
What began as a dream Prom night to see his hero DJ went to an internship at the label to eventually landing the ultimate fantasy by being signed to the roster and championed as the next big thing by none other than Peanut Butter Wolf himself on top of critics like Busy P, Urb, XLR8R, & Dazed & Confused Magazines.
Mr. Pants is a purveyor par excellence of that unmistakable fresh beat: 80s Soul, Electro Boogie, Early Rap, New Wave, & Post-Punk Disco, all of which can be found on Welcome where James plays drums, keys, guitar and sings.
From a radio perspective, what format does this fall under - this new style that Pants has invented? Do you play it on the groove alongside the likes of Skyy, Cameo, or even Pharrell (listen to KA$H)? Or do you play it in the underground alongside the up-to-the-minute electro pulse of Egyptian Lover, Cybotron and even Too $hort? The answer, of course, is both! Theres enough Pants to fit any style.
Mayer Hawthorne grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, and vividly remembers, as a child, driving with his father and tuning the car radio in to the rich soul and jazz history the region provided. Most of the best music ever made came out of Detroit, claims the singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, who counts Isaac Hayes, Leroy Hutson, Mike Terry, and Barry White among his influences, but draws the most inspiration from the music of Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, and the legendary songwriting and production trio of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Eddie Holland Jr.
The retro tag is added to almost any contemporary work that sounds like it was originally recorded between 1966 and 1974, and Hawthorne, among the newest contributors to the genre, is aware of how trends come and go. After being introduced to Stones Throw label head Peanut Butter Wolf by mutual friend Noelle Scaggs of the Rebirth, even his current boss was skeptical. He showed me two songs and I didnt understand what I was listening to, Wolf recalls. I asked him if they were old songs that he did re-edits of I couldnt believe they were new songs and that he played all the instruments.
And after meeting in person, it was even harder for Wolf to believe that Hawthorne was also the lead vocalist. Few expect such heartfelt sentiment to come from a 29-year-old white kid from Ann Arbor, but he has caught the ear of his family at Stones Throw, as well as BBC Radio 1 host Gilles Peterson and producer/DJ Mark Ronson. Expectations are high for the admitted vinyl junkie who never planned on taking his crooning public. Hawthornes hanging-by-a-string falsetto and breakbeat production on his first recorded effort, the tender Just Aint Gonna Work Out, are simultaneously Smokey and J Dilla equal parts The Tracks of My Tears and Fall in Love. Its soul, he explains, But its new.
Hawthorne has produced and played instruments for much of his life, but never intended to become a singer. He isnt formally trained, and never sang in the church choir or in any of the bands he was in before founding the County (formerly the County Commissioners). But here he is, new school soul sensation, who has taken the Motown assembly-line production model and eliminated nearly every element but himself and a few hired hands. I think Mayer is the only artist in the history of the label that Ive signed after hearing only two songs, says Peanut Butter Wolf. Sometimes, you just know its the right thing to do.
And for those willing to believe anything is possible, be grateful to have Mayer Hawthorne on the scene. Its not just throwback music anymore this revival is all about progression.
High Noon Saloon
701 E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53703
|Minimum Age: 18|
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|