Although soon to be vacated, the home of Stones Throw Records founder Peanut Butter Wolf will be remembered as exotic enough to be on any star map.
This is the story of a bunch of beat-miners who shacked up in an eccentric's house somewhere on Griffith Park Boulevard in LA to craft spliffed-out jams on their own label, in hopes of carving out a singular niche in a hip-hop game dominated by Bentleys, ice and thug lifers who buy flak jackets for their toddlers. Stones Throw Records might not roll off the tongue like Def Jam, but it's still early. While you're waiting, Chris "Peanut Butter Wolf" Manak, Eothen "Egon" Alapatt and Jeff Jank will be chilling at the Stones Throw co-op, bumping to Madlib's basement jams in the bomb shelter. See, the family that lives together, stays together. And even though the Stoners will be heading to a new office loft soon, working together in close quarters has been a tea party. Egon explains.
XLR8R: What is it like working in the Stones Throw co-op environment?
Egon: Well, at first it was really scary. Wolf moved the company down from the Bay Area in 2000, which is when I moved out to California and just graduated college. [Manak] basically said, "You have to move down here now, so tie up your stuff on the East Coast and let's get cracking." So I get out there and he's like, "Ok, this is Jeff. Jeff helped me move down here, but now he's just gonna stay here, we're all gonna live together and Jeff's gonna be the art designer for Stones Throw." We were in such close proximity that we had to work through our idiosyncrasies quickly.
XLR8R: Do you ever get that sort of Real World: Stones Throw thing?
EA: Yeah, it happens all the time. But it works out. You know, it's a pretty big house, and we have our own little sections. Jeff and Chris and myself have bedrooms, and Madlib has a studio that he's always working out of. Jeff and Chris got the downstairs and I got the upstairs all to myself. But it's all gonna change though, because we got a big loft we just finished renovating and we're moving everything into that. They're putting the blinds up and dropping the telephone lines this week, and that's it. Except that Madlib [will keep] the studio in the bomb shelter. It's an actual bomb shelter in the house. I don't know if anybody ever told you that.
XLR8R: What's the story?
EA: The guy who owned the house before our landlord renovated it was this completely bizarre dude who only built the house up to ground level on the side of a hill. He was convinced the bomb was gonna drop and he had to be prepared. I guess the guy got carted off by the state one day. Our landlord bought it, built this house, and left everything pretty much the way it was. We found a human tongue in a secret compartment under the stairs, but otherwise it's a cool place.
XLR8R: Word. Since this is the LA issue, I wanted to get an idea of how you feel working in that town?
EA: LA probably has the most progressive hip-hop scene in the country right now. There's Dilated Peoples, Jurassic 5, Dr. Dre, all that kind of stuff. But there's also an amazing amount of clubs and live performances. You'll have people that go to a Prefuse 73 show, then head over to the Root Down [club] on a Thursday night to hear Cut Chemist spin. You can see anything-Breakestra, Wildchild, he's always doing stuff in LA. You combine that with Busdriver and all those guys and you have an amazing hip-hop community that works together.