Those who throw stones…

Influential indie hip-hop label Stones Throw releases a collaboration between its artists

Megan Kadrmas

.”Chrome Children,” a new collaborative hip-hop project from Stones Throw Records and Adult Swim, is kind of like those English class writing exercises where each person starts a story and then passes it to the left after a couple of minutes.

The storyline is no longer under the original author’s control and typically ends up somewhere completely different than the writer intended.

The first half of the album exists in the hip-hop world of bass-heavy beats and smooth rhymes about everything from hoes and crack to keeping it real and how things were back in the day. But it slowly wanders off the beaten path, to the point where the first song and the last do not seem to belong on the same album.

The second half of the album experiments with less focus on rhymes and more emphasis on the beats. This experimentation culminates with “Nino’s Dead” by The Young Jazz Rebels, an instrumental that shuns beat machines and samplings for hand drums, cowbell and brass instruments.

“Chrome Children” is a celebration of Stones Throw’s 10th anniversary, demonstrating its influence on the industry through the range of artists on the album.

It features not only some of the record label’s best artists, but some of the best independent hip-hoppers in the game today. Madlib, M.E.D., Jaylib and Percee P, all add their twists to the album’s story, as well as a posthumous contribution by J Dilla.

Numerous successful collaborations grace the album, starting with the pairing of Stones Throw and Adult Swim.

Adult Swim is the Cartoon Network’s late-night adult cartoon programming crew that found its transition into the underground hip hop scene with last year’s MF Doom and Danger Mouse collaboration, “The Mouse and The Mask.”

Unlike Danger Doom’s “The Mouse and The Mask,” “Chrome Children” keeps the link between Adult Swim and hip hop invisible. There are no samples of cartoon characters on the album and the Adult Swim Web site does not feature the album. This is for the best, however, because there are already so many voices and perspectives present in “Chrome Children” that adding appearances by some Adult Swim favorites would only be distracting.

Various Artists
TITLE: “Chrome Children”
LABEL: Stones Throw Records

The Adult Swim influence is only apparent in the full-length concert DVD that accompanies the album. The DVD documents the eclectic group’s performance at the South-by-Southwest music festival.

Stones Throw 10th anniversary tour
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Triple Rock Social Club, 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
TICKETS: $15, 18-plus, (612) 333-7499

Adult Swim includes their usual witty and sarcastic text screens similar to those found during its television programming. With great lines like, “Put the camera phone away and watch the show,” this text adds a perfect edge and lightness to a concert full of hip-hop heavyweights.

The DVD literally shows that each different voice and story can gel together and cohesively flow through a concert. The common thread throughout the “Chrome Children” album and DVD is a love of hip-hop and an effort to push its reach and boundaries in different directions.