The musical blueprint of both Tel Aviv and Los Angeles readily apparent in Cohenbeats’ Stones Throw release, Daily Affirmations. While Israeli samples influenced by jazz, progressive rock and Brazilian music are threaded throughout, the undeniable backbone of the album continues to be inspired by LA beatmakers.
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Stones Throw’s Vex Ruffin and legendary Yo! MTV Raps host and visual artist Fab 5 Freddy have teamed up to create new track “The Balance.” Fab’s first musical project in 30 years since “Change the Beat,” the 12-inch includes original vocal, instrumental, and two remixes. Fab 5 Freddy on creating “The Balance”: “I liked the way this idea organically developed and I began to see my involvement as a sort of art performance piece. The track reminded me of cool dance records that downtown NY DJ’s played back then in the 80’s at places like The Mudd Club, The Garage, Area, Danceteria and Nells where I hung out so I put myself in that mindset when working on my lyrics for this song.”
Best known as a jazz drummer and hip-hop producer, Karriem Riggins returns with Headnod Suite. The album is the follow up to 2012’s critically acclaimed debut Alone Together. With 29 instrumental hip-hop tracks, Headnod Suite places Riggins’ beatmaking chops front and center. It’s a testament to why Riggins is the producer of choice for artists like Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, and The Roots.
He is Dominique Purdy, born and raised in Koreatown, Los Angeles. His first hip-hop influence was his own mother, who made jewelry and hung tight with Ice T, the Rhyme Syndicate, and Grandmaster Caz. “I remember Caz showing my mom how to freestyle on cassette, just fucking around. He was basically saying have fun with it, say something that comes from right where ever you are.” Purdy moved from corner to corner through Koreatown his whole life, drawing, writing, and developing his own brand of experimental hip-hop, fused with comedy, and impromptu performance. He wrote and starred in the independent feature Driving White Black (2016). As The Koreatown Oddity, rocking a wolf mask he bought back in high school for 70 bucks, he’s been doing shows anywhere and everywhere, whether he’s invited or not: L.A.’s The Laugh Factory, Wendy’s, and Greyhound Stations. Finna Be Past Tense is his first album with Stones Throw, following a long line of independently released cassettes. Finna Be Past Tense was produced entirely by Vex Ruffin, who met the MC after one of his public stunts. The album – also featuring Joyce Wrice, Black Moses, Tron7Seize, DJ Lala, DJ Luman – is based around a loose concept of Koreatown Oddity reckoning with life, death, and the passage of time. Finna Be Past Tense cover art by Oscar Ayala.
Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s formidable skills have come to fruition on Jardín in his Stones Throw debut . “This album came out of wanting to make music that reminds people how beautiful life is and how delicate their heart is,” he said. “I've always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on.
Compiled by Sofie Fatouretchi of Boiler Room, these 24 tracks by 26 different artists mix together the best of hip-hop and Soul underground. An enticing selection of artists that should be on your radar, the album varies from ISSUE’s (Bay-area based artist and E40’s son) space age rap on “Ferrari” to slow jams like artists Ill Camille and SiR’s heartfelt plea to never giving up on the Mndsgn-produced “Almost There.” Other artists include Mndsgn, Kutmah, Stimulator Jones, DJ Harrison, Gifted & Blessed, and more.
On the crime-infested east side of Lost Gates CA, there is a vinyl pressing plant whose brochure says, “we will do anything for a price.” Back in the 70s & 80s, they specialized in private press porno soundtracks, but these days Madlib is their only customer. Stones Throw took them a couple Quasimoto tracks and a drawing or two, and here’s what we got: a custom-shaped record, half picture disc, half clear, thick vinyl. One side is Quasimoto’s “Planned Attack” from the album Yessir Whatever, and the flip side is the previously unreleased “Talkin’ Shit,” a short track with Lord Quas doing what he does best. Both tracks are produced-by and featuring Madlib. Pictured below is the front, family-friendly side of the vinyl. The backside of the record, the “x-ray” portion, show’s Quasimoto disgusting insides. Artwork by Jeff Jank.
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Mndsgn (born Ringgo Ancheta) grew up in south New Jersey, raised with Gospel music at church, and B-Boy culture at home. Experimenting with beat-making, he befriended fellow producer Knxwledge and the two formed the influential Klipmode collective (along with Devonwho and Suzi Analogue). Mndsgn's music flourished when he moved to Los Angeles, catching the attention of Stones Throw who released Yawn Zen (2014), an LP of introspective and mostly instrumental beat creations, punctuated by vocal cuts. Body Wash is his second album for Stones Throw, a full set of realized songs that were only hinted at on Yawn Zen. Influences here include the likes of early SOLAR records material, Leon Sylvers III, Kashif, and Dave Grusin. These artists, Mndsgn says, "embodied that potent feeling in the early 80s boogie/funk/soul/jazz/fusion wave." He adds, "I was also digging back into some early 90s R&B sounds and started really imagining what it would be like if I had mashed the two eras together." He explains Body Wash as "a soul record that plays with nostalgic elements in a very dynamic & positive way. Think about it as a box of crayons for you to draw emotions with." The album was built around a backstory, a loose narrative thread through which he could filter his unformed ideas. In the narrative, a homeless man encounters a mysterious woman who gives him shelter. She instructs him to bathe with a very peculiar body wash. As he soaks and sinks deeper in a thick lather of this unknown solution, the man finds himself transported to an alternate dimension. Mndsgn describes the story as a vessel "that would allow me to speak on topics that were universally relatable … The story actually became a true outlet for me to address worldly issues with Self." The resulting album also represents a dynamic step forward in songwriting. Without explicitly relating its plot or characters, the album as a whole turns on the story's key theme, the psychedelic, transformative power of love.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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