Headphones, backpacks, watch ’em all piggy back

Eclectic label Stones Throw takes chances on acts like Oh No

by Keri Carlson

Stones Throw is considered a hip-hop label, but limiting it to that misses the point of the project. The Stones Throw guys love music. Not just hip-hop, not just funk, not just anything.

Despite Stones Throw’s hip-hop roots, the label’s rappers back their rhymes with a vast mix of odd gems dug out from every record store in Los Angeles. It’s what makes Stones Throw so prominent in the hip-hop scene – recent masterpieces from the label, such as Madvillain’s “Madvillainy,” use the funkiest bass lines, the jazziest horns and the catchiest forgotten cartoon jingles to make their own universe. Beyond strict hip-hop, Stones Throw has released rare funk reissues and even material from avant-garde new-wave eccentric Gary Wilson.

To celebrate the label’s 100th release (Stones Throw began in 1996), label founder Peanut Butter Wolf put together a mix CD that features some

of the label’s best artists, such as Charizma, Quasimoto, Jaylib, Cut Chemist, Egon, Breakestra and many more. Peanut Butter Wolf pieces a seamless mix that spans the Stones Throw roster.

Along with the CD, “Stones Throw 101” adds a DVD of music videos, live performances, interviews and special features. The video for Madvillain’s “All Caps” brings a comic book to life and works perfectly with the group’s hero-versus-villain soundtrack. Quasimoto’s bizarre “Come On Feet,” with broken beats and warped voices, uses puppets in the video that look like “Sesame Street” rejects. The videos on the DVD are the best part of “Stones Throw 101,” offering an alternative to the skanky rap videos on MTV.

Looking forward, Stones Throw’s newest artist, Oh

No, recently released his first album.

Oh No opens “The Disrupt” admitting he’s “the son of the dopest soul singers, nephew to a great jazz trumpeter, brother of the illest beat conductor, Madlib.”

Oh No’s rhymes combine brash observations of ghetto life with witty pop-culture name drops – the best one is when Oh No warns to watch out “before you get knocked out like the fourth girl in Destiny’s Child.”

But Oh No knows skilled lyrics do not an album make. “The Disrupt” has a comic book mixed with jazz and funk vibe similar to Madvillain’s. This comes from the help of older brother Madlib (who’s one-half of Madvillain) as a producer of five tracks.

Though Oh No might need to break away from the shadows of his brother, he has enough skill to rock with the best Stones Throw has to offer.