Los Angeles, the fifth installment in the Other Side series, includes a personal audio tour of the oft-derided “City of Angels” presented by critically acclaimed MC and producer, Madlib, as well as a DVD tour of Peanut Butter Wolf’s favorite LA hot spots, including art galleries, funky Melrose boutiques, open air markets, and more. The DVD also includes an in-depth interview with the Stone’s Throw Records head honcho discussing the label’s first 10 years, and videos from several Stone’s Throw artists. Highlights of Madlib’s wide-ranging mix include tracks from the Sun Ra Arkestra, the psychedelic blues of Outlaw Blues Band, and a couple of his own tunes, both solo (as Beat Konducta) and with Jaydee (as Jaylib).
Born in Oakland as Otis Jackson, Jr. (but raised in the southern California town of Oxnard, 40 miles north of Los Angeles) Madlib started rapping with a couple of childhood friends in a group called Lootpack, and quickly became a sought after producer and DJ. Ever the enthusiastic crate digger, his love of vintage jazz and classic soul inevitably showed in his various projects, whether reinventing classic Blue Note tracks (Shades of Blue), mixing old ska and rocksteady (on his Blunted in the Bomb Shelter mix), playing hip hop-inflected jazz (as Yesterday’s New Quintet) or collaborating with quirky underground rappers like MF Doom (on Madvillain’s Madvillainy).
Meanwhile, Peanut Butter Wolf (aka Christopher George Manning, Jr.) was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, and began DJ-ing and selling mixtapes. He debuted on vinyl in 1989 with “You Can’t Swing This”, and recorded with an MC named Lyrical Prophecy. Soon after, Wolf began working with Charizma, performing at block parties and shows all over the Bay area with groups including the Pharycyde, House of Pain, and Nas. Sadly, Charizma was shot and killed in 1992, after which Wolf turned to instrumental hip hop, releasing several well-received albums and compilations, including Peanut Butter Breaks on Heyday Records, and Return of the DJ on Bomb Records. From there, he eventually branched out into remixing and production, starting with 1999’s My Vinyl Weighs a Ton, followed by 2002’s The Best of Peanut Butter Wolf and Jukebox 45s. In recent years, Wolf has concentrated on developing his own Stone’s Throw label, though he still accepts occasional DJ gigs.
Madlib’s predictably eclectic mix is all over the map, ranging from jazz and old-school electro, to hip hop, reggae, and beyond in the first half-dozen tracks. Kicking off with the frenetic post-bop of the Lightmen Plus One, Madlib quickly moves on, with stops at classic ‘80s electro (“Clear” by Cybotron), reggae (the Lee “Scratch” Perry-produced “Blood Dunza”, by Prince Jazzbo), protest songs (the bizarre “Nuclear War” by Sun Ra Arkestra), psychedelic blues (“Deep Gully” by the Outlaw Blues Band) and underground hip hop, featuring several of his own projects, including tracks by Quasimoto, Jaylib, and the Beat Konducta. The disc is definitely worth a listen for those with wide-ranging tastes in music, as Madlib takes the listener on a fascinating trip through his incredibly diverse record collection.
// Notes from the Road
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