Created in 1996 by Chris Manak (aka DJ Peanut Butter Wolf), Stones Throw Records has cemented its reputation as an eclectic and influential indie record label, with a roster of acts such as hip-hop artists Madlib, Homeboy Sandman, and the late J Dilla, to soul crooners Mayer Hawthorne and modern-day funk musician Dam-Funk. Nearly 20 years later, Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton (This Is Stones Throw Records) tells its story.
Produced and directed by Jeff Broadway, Los Angeles-based filmmaker and co-founder of Gatling Pictures, the music documentary showcases the culture, energy, and history behind a label that started out releasing mainly hip-hop records but has morphed into a hotbed of electro, soul, and world music deals.
With exclusive interviews by Peanut Butter Wolf, as well as fellow DJ A-Trak, and noted stars such as Talib Kweli, Common, Kanye West, Mike D and Questlove, Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton highlights the independent spirit and creative aesthetic of the respected indie label.
Jeff Broadway: I live in LA and I’ve been here for about five years. With documentary production the margins are relatively small. And I thought it would be a wise move to do something on a subject that’s local. It’s also something that I’ve been a part of, at least peripherally as a fan, for some years. It’s a subject and a culture that I understand. I also felt like there was a demand from the fan base to learn more about it.
[Stones Throw] has been a relatively closeted and closed off label for some years prior to the documentary. Guys like Madlib and Doom, even Dilla, there hadn’t been a lot done of that collective of artists. And it’s been a collective that I’ve admired and appreciated as a fan for some years. So for those kind of myriad of factors, it just felt like a natural project for me to take on.
JB: It’s obviously a pretty large undertaking. I think that we started out mapping out stories based on the central figures and who have been the driving forces in comprising this collective of artists at Stones Throw. And really identifying those major figures and then kind of understanding which people, and which interviews, and which archival material would best serve telling those sub-narratives. And so really kind of attacking the story by its breakdown and just understanding what has made this clock tick for all these years. And then going after material, original production footage and interviews, and all that stuff that helps flesh out those storylines and those tangents that make up the larger, more holistic story.