The Dynasty: Stones Throw Will Not Lose

Max Bell‘s book collection weighs a ton.   Stones Throw has never left you in the lurch. They put out new music every week.  More often than not, it’s good and well worth your time....
By    June 12, 2014

Max Bell‘s book collection weighs a ton.  

Stones Throw has never left you in the lurch. They put out new music every week.  More often than not, it’s good and well worth your time. Occasionally, it’s great and requires innumerable listens. Below are some of the latest offerings from label over the last month or so. They are arranged in chronological order from new to old. Listen for the first time or listen again. Remind yourself that Stones Throw keeps giving after 17 years.

Madlib is one of the pillars of Stones Throw. Aside from his solo material and work with Doom, you must never forget and always revisit Lootpack. This year, as if Pinata, the Pinata instrumentals, and his work on the soundtrack for Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton weren’t enough, the ceaselessly working, psilocybin ingesting mystic of the crates and MPC pads will release Rock Konducta Pt. 2 on July 15th. (It’s technically out via Rappcats, but Madlib is forever Stones Throw.) The cover is partially  a Black Sabbath record because Madlib knows their first four albums are essential for people with functioning ears. The first single is “Black Dreams (Sludge Fight)” because Madlib also knows Black Sabbath are sludge metal pioneers. It sounds like thick, raven colored sludge oozing over already acid soaked guitars and crispy, crackling drums. Grimy, psychedelic boom-bap covered in porous fuzz, or something. It’s as short as it needs to be and merits much replaying and head nodding by those who nod their heads. Anyway, I’ve said too much. The words “new” and “Madlib” were enough.

If you frequent SoundCloud or BandCamp, you should know Filipino producer Mndsgn. If not, know that he recently moved to L.A. and signed to Stones Throw. Also know that his first single, “Txt,” is perfect for all laid-back and lifted activities you deem acceptable. The chords are mellow, the synths are blissful, the clips and blips deftly placed. And the drums, should you be intrigued by such things, knock. Mndsgn’s debut Yawn Zen drops August 26th. For now, I also recommend “Sweeney Song,” the seldom-discussed track Danny Brown absolutely destroys with bars about (zani) bars, brews, and lascivious bisexual women. It’s ‘hazardous’ and ‘oh so immaculate.’

Homeboy Sandman’s Gawker article notwithstanding, he’s continually one of the best rappers putting on for Gotham. Delivery, vocabulary, punch lines, beat selection — the Sandman brings all rap fans’ dreams on a regular basis. He’s the antithesis of Troy Ave, and I don’t even have to listen to a Troy Ave song to know that. Above is the compilation of singles, b-sides, and outtakes he’s released as a prelude to his tour, which is happening now and possibly coming to your city. If you’ve never heard Sandman before, this is a great primer. My personal favorites include the frenetic “New York Nights,” the multisyllabic, internal rhyme marathon of “Richardsun,” and the Paul White produced “Wade in the Water,” which you can read more of my words on here.

Dam-Funk recorded this May 31, 2014 in Ladera Heights. I know because it says so on his SoundCloud. This kind of transparency has always been part of Dam’s appeal. His funk is unfiltered and unfettered. He will release mothership paeans like this celestial slapper when and where he pleases. Bass lines this funky, so undisputedly grooving, aren’t bred as much as they are inborn. He is THE MAN responsible for funk’s resurgence, and his next album Invite the Light, will probably make the hair still left on George Clinton’s head stand stiff. Anyone who says otherwise lost their hood pass a long time ago.

Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf could’ve been one of the ’90s rap duos, mentioned alongside the other great pairs in such a conversation. Unfortunately, Charizma’s life was cut short. If you want to read more about it, I interviewed Wolf about his passing and their music here. As far as the tracks above are concerned, they display as much polish as they do promise. Wolf’s banging and playful boom-bap beats are on par with the some of the best from that era. Charizma is the Bay Area’s answer to Big L.  Aside from conveying anything and everything without cursing, he utilizes every style at his disposal. Above all, these songs are fun and full of more passion and energy than most of the ’90s revival stuff of the Bada$$ ilk around. If you dig them, there’s a 4LP box set available that’s worth its weight in cases of Martinelli’s apple juice.

It should go without saying that The Lions are among the best bands making reggae/dub music in the U.S. They do so with reverence, not a ganja-induced giggle fit. They believe in the music. You should believe in them. If you don’t have their last album, This Generation, you should get it now. The single above, which is just over three minutes of rocking, reverb heavy dub, came out in May. It’s a remix by Dub Club’s Tom Chasteen, who dubbed out this and seven more tracks from This Generation to create the latest Lions project, The Lions vs. The Dub Club: This Generation in Dub. For the sake of relevant and timely blog posting, the album is now streaming over at NPR. After listening, you should buy the record and/or head to their album release party on Wednesday, June 18 at the Echoplex. As the inside of their album says, “You can’t roll a spliff on an Mp3.” And no, I’m not The Lions’ publicist. I just want you to listen to listen to great reggae/dub music and know that Alex Désert  had one of the best lines in Swingers. If you’re not playing The Lions at your party this summer, it must be dead. 

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