In the 90s there were many music labels that were just getting their start. So So Def, Bad Boy, Sick Wid It Records and Lench Mob Records were all getting their start in the 90s, but one label experienced success quietly and carved out a corner of Hip-Hop history for themselves. Stones Throw Records is an independent record label that started in 1996, by DJ and producer Chris Manak, also known as Peanut Butter Wolf.
Manak started the label in his hometown of San Jose, California as a way to release his own music. While DJing at a radio station he met and befriended a rapper by the name of Charizma (Charles Hicks). Manak and Charizma signed with Hollywood basic, a division of Disney’s Hollywood Records, but quickly left the label after its Hip-Hop division was shut down. Charizma passed away in 1993 and three years later, Stones Throw Records began with its debut release being “My World Premiere,” a song Manak and Charizma worked on together. The label started with humble beginnings and remains that way currently, even though it grew to be a big name in the Hip-Hop community. During a time when major labels were controlling the sound of Hip-Hop and music in general, Stones Throw defied the odds.
Stones Throw Records was the definition of an independent label in 1996. Manak hired whoever he wanted and signed whoever he wanted. Aside from the label being known for Hip-Hop, other genres of music were also represented. Funk and pop artist are also signed to the label. However, some its most known artists have contributed greatly to Hip-Hop. Artists like Madlib and Quasimoto presented a new sound to the Hip-Hop community. They were some of the first artists to use jazz, funk, electro and other far fetched sounds in Hip-Hop production. Due to their unique production style, rappers like MF Doom were attracted to the label and became long time collaborators. J Dilla is was a prominent producer and helped put Stones Throw on the map indefinitely.
20 years later, Stones Throw Records is still kicking, and releasing music whenever they see fit. The documentary, Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton details the rise of the record label. It has become a label for artists, who do not fit the mold of what is mainstream. Artists such as Dam-Funk, Mayor Hawthorne, Homeboy Sandman, and Aloe Blacc have made Stones Throw Record home no matter what genre they’re in. Stones Throw Records has become a giant in the Hip-Hop community due to its reputation of allowing its artist to have creative control. That’s why J Dilla, Madlib, Quasimoto, MF Doom and other artists are considered Hip-Hop icons.