Interview with Peanut Butter Wolf
Peanut Butter Wolf is a DJ, Producer, boss of influential Los Angeles based Stones Throw Records, record collector, and general inspiration to all of us at L.A. Taco. Stones Throw is releasing a 4LP boxset to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the passing of his friend Charizma and the collection of works he and Peanut Butter Wolf created between 1990-1993. Compiled by Peanut Butter Wolf, the anthology includes rare, classic and unreleased tracks that makes up eight sides of vinyl, along with never before seen photos and ephemera. Based in Los Angeles for over a decade and currently living in Highland Park, PBW was kind enough to answer some questions on L.A., Charizma, and of course his favorite taco spot…
How is having the Stones Throw HQ in Los Angeles important to the label as a whole and how does it influence you?
Well, I was raised in San Jose where there was a loyal, yet very small hip hop community so I moved my way up the coast when I was old enough to live on my own. I started the label in my bedroom in San Mateo which is in between San Jose and San Francisco, then moved to San Francisco and took the label with me the following year. Lived there for a few years and decided I didn’t like cold weather or parking tickets and moved down to LA. A big motivator to moving down here was because Madlib lived down here. And I loved LA immediately after doing so. There’s a saying that LA is the city that chews most people up and spits them out in the first 6 months and if you make it past those first 6, you’re good. Luckily I didn’t hear that saying til after I was here several years. I always wanted to live here ever since my best friend’s parents used to take us down here for vacations every year throughout my childhood and teen years so it was ingrained in me before I even knew there was a music scene here. But I don’t think it would be the same anywhere other than Highland Park, where I’ve been for the past 13 years.
What is the state of hip-hop in Los Angeles? What trends do you see here and where is it going?
I’m out of touch with hip hop and out of touch with trends. When I see kids wearing things I wore 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, I think, “wow, that looks really cool on them. I remember when I used to wear that. I’d look like a fool wearing it now cuz I’m too old, but I love it on them.” I go to clubs now and then, but I haven’t seen anything all that new and exciting in the past few years in hip hop. The groundwork has been laid. It’s not that new to me. Just new to the kids who just turned old enough to go to a club and I’m glad it’s exciting for them. That’s cool.
The artists on Stones Throw are a diverse group, what unites them?
Most of them get along pretty well and a lot of them have collaborated amongst each other. Jonti has worked with Homeboy Sandman. Jonti has worked with Stepkids. Sandman has worked with Stepkids. Sandman has worked with Vex Ruffin. Vex has worked with Anika. James Pants has worked with Vex. Mayer Hawthorne has worked with James. Aloe Blacc has worked with Madlib. Dam-Funk has worked with Jonwayne. So on and so forth. The one thing that unites most of the roster though is our taste in music in terms of our record collections. That’s why I’m glad the film was called Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton. We’re almost all record collectors.
What do you listen to in your car when you’re driving around LA?
Talk radio. Or the person speaking on the other end of my phone.
What was Charizma’s role in the foundation of Stones Throw, and how does this box set pay tribute to his life and work
Charizma was the first guy I worked with who had that confidence in himself that he was “that dude” and hanging around him made me feel like I was that dude too. Before him, I had dreams and goals and aspirations in music but wasn’t sure how I was gonna accomplish them. After him, I knew I could do it.
Do you have a favorite, off-the-beaten path place in Los Angeles that you can share with our readers
Come visit Highland Park. There’s some good record shopping.
What’s your favorite taco spot?
Well since I remember my sister having an old magazine from 1983 where it said that Michael Jackson’s favorite restaurant was El Torito, I’ll go with that.