Dechlan Nicholson, from The Cameo in Edinburgh, takes a look at upcoming hip-hop documentary OUR VINYL WEIGH A TON. DJ Peanut Butter Wolf, founder of Stones Throw Records, is heading to Picturehouse at FACT, The Cameo and The Ritzy this week for Q&A shows.
With vinyl making a major comeback, this is a fitting time to celebrate a true powerhouse of the independent music scene. OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON comes courtesy of newcomer Jeff Broadway, and delights us with the story of Stones Throw Records, a mainstay of left-field independent hip hop, soul and rock.
Considered by many to be one of the greatest labels in the world today, Stones Throw have put out dozens of critically acclaimed releases. With a roster ranging from MF Doom and Madlib’s troubling comic-book-like collaboration Madvillain to the psychedelic pop of The Stepkids, via the smooth soul revival of now major label darlings Aloe Blacc and Mayer Hawthorne, Stones Throw has never shied away from signing the artists others saw as too bizarre or too extreme.
The documentary reveals a label that never rests on its laurels, showing the growth of its stable and its signing of the truly genre-defining artists Madlib and J Dilla. We see Stones Throw’s struggle through the late 2000s as the record market almost entirely collapsed (spelling the death of many independents); when the market eventually recovered, it marked the rise of quality over commerciality.
The film is also a character study of the label’s founder, Peanut Butter Wolf. We follow his journey from childhood, when he would craft mixtapes with MC brother-in-arms Charizma, through a short-lived major-label music career, and on to the creation of Stones Throw Records in 1996.
OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON doesn’t flinch from showing the tragic side of the label’s history, balancing factual subject matter with candid emotional encounters with often stoical characters.The story is told in a style reminiscent of the mixtapes so dear to the label’s founder, and features off-kilter vignettes, sometimes rendered in collage and animation.
Drawing on the fond recollections of admirers, family members and Stones Throw artists old and new, this is a vital documentary that tells the story of one of the most important labels in a corner of the music market that is grossly under-represented but boasts hardcore fans. Hopefully the release of this film will bring a few more into the fold.
- Picturehouse at FACT, Tuesday 1 April, 6.30
- The Cameo, Wednesday 2 April, 6.30
- The Ritzy, Thursday 3 April, 6.30