Record Label: Fat Beats Records
After waiting patiently behind two singles, a dope video, and a neon-blue triangle shaped vinyl, Union is ready to unleash the most musically challenging, painstakingly crafted, MC-packed album in the dawn of 2012 - Analogtronics. Featuring Talib Kweli, Elzhi, MF DOOM, Roc Marciano, Guilty Simpson, and more, Union produces space-aged bangers that mold perfectly around each guest, in addition to sprinkling in a few lush, eye-widening instrumentals. This is the full length we have all been waiting for, as bonus tracks provide over twenty songs hypnotic interstellar boop-bap.
Union consists of two Parisian producers whose otherworldly approach to analog-driven, melodically abstract, sample free hip-hop inspired Fat Beats Records to extend a label invitation immediately. When a mysterious, monolithic, glossy black package arrived at FBHQ with nothing more than a cryptic note and an unlabeled CD inside, the staff wasn’t sure if Stanley Kubrick had risen from the dead to make mixtapes or if their lives were about to be transformed forever. Luckily it was the latter, and today the legendary label is poised to unleash Union’s debut album Analogtronics on an unsuspecting Earth in the dawn of 2012.
Union was born when OJ, a Dilla-obsessed beat junkie with an unhealthy obsession for science fiction, met Gold, a jazzhead whose vast collection of vintage keyboards and synths left little room in his flat for trifling vanities like clothing and kitchen appliances. Though both shared a parallel vision for the music of tomorrow, they each occupied opposite corners of Paris’ electro underground when their worlds collided in 2009. OJ, upon catching a flash of Gold’s keyboard prowess at a Belleville loft party, approached the funky technician immediately in hopes of applying his melodic touch to a nearly finished beat tape. Gold loved what he heard, and thus two unique creative energies become one distinct Union.
After spending much of 2012 in the studio, Black Milk returns in top form with Synth or Soul, a vinyl-only EP release prepared especially for Record Store Day. Black Milk’s first official release of 2013 also marks the launch of his instrumental series Fuzz, Freqs, & Colors. The series is a collaborative project with illustrator Upendo Taylor (Nike, Gatorade, Leroy Jenkins), with each volume bringing vibrant, colorful, and forward-thinking visuals to both represent and complement its sound and aesthetic.Synth or Soul offers a distinctly different styles on each side of the record, while showcasing development in his trademark synth-driven or soul-sampling production.
His debut LP for Definitive Jux, DJ/producer RJD2's DEAD RINGER is a deeply creative and musically poignant hip-hop record for summer 2002. Creating a raging underground listenership from a series of 45s and white labels and being the only non-MC signed to Def Jux, RJD2's talent as a DJ and as producer, to match beats and lay cult/pop gems over dusty soul tracks, is paralleled only by people like DJ Shadow and Z-Trip. However, his ability to record and marry MCs to his primarily instrumental and sample-based style is evidenced in outstanding tracks with Copywrite and Blueprint as well as his legacy with the MHz crew; at the end of the day that puts our man from Ohio ahead of his primarily one-dimensional peer group. This set will stand out as monumental for Definitive Jux, who with their first record outside of the New York MC box continues to stride toward really being definitive in their roster and catalog of independent hip-hop.
L.A. producer, Mndsgn’s most recent project, Breatharian, gets the official re-issue treatment via the newly formed Fresh Selects label. The rising instrumentalist - best known for his work with the likes of Danny Brown, Jonwayne, Sonnymoon, Blu, Knxwledge, and more - sees his first retail release in over 4 years and has pulled out all the stops for the occasion. A diverse, conceptual beat tape that takes a varied approach into exploring the strange phenomenon known as “breatharianism” - the project made waves when it first dropped last summer and has now been professionally mixed, mastered, and pressed to vinyl for the first time. Along with it are two new bonus beats, “Hiking” and “Bweyy” (featuring co-producer, Swarvy); the album also marks Mnd’s first ever official music video - in the form of two-fer, “Hiking” / “Fif Dim.
Donuts began simply enough as an idea to turn a particularly good demo beat tape into a full-length release, and has since became a classic hip-hop album, one of the defining works of the artist’s life. Completed during a year in which J Dilla spent mostly in a hospital bed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Donuts would gain particular poignancy when, only three days after it’s release, February 10, 2006, the artist passed away, losing his battle with a rare blood disease. Back late 2005 when Stones Throw was getting ready to release J Dilla’s Donuts, they made a casual decision to use a drawing for the cover of the 2LP vinyl release, rather than the standard cover photo of Dilla used for the other releases. But now here it is, better late than never: J Dilla’s classic album Donuts now released on vinyl with the smile on the cover. Cover & illustrations by Jeff Jank; photo of Dilla by Andrew Gura. Just a few months ago Stones Throw published a short back-story on the cover photo.