Review ·

Peanut Butter Wolf's introduction to an expansive peak into Stones Throw Records is an a capella version of "My World Premier" by Charizma. It's a noteworthy opener for at least two reasons: Charizma was the emcee who stood successfully in front of PB Wolf's tables and rattled off clever rhyme schemes before he was shot and killed in 1993. He had a lot more to give hip-hop and had already been turning heads before he died. The intro is PB Wolf's nod to his talented friend and partner, as well as a most fitting curtain opener to an exhilarating cross section of one of today's most dynamic record labels.

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Peanut Butter exercises his sleek blending skills all over Stones Throw 101's forty-two songs. He's challenged by the label's eccentric output, but he comes through miraculously at some points. He pushes thugged-out Jaylib joints up against the stoned 1970 sounds of Stark Reality, and he manages to mesh Madvillain records with the psychedelic melodies of Ontario-born Koushik. Madlib cooks up new beats for a few of the hits; a Middle Eastern-flavored one for "Figaro" from his year-end-list-worthy collabo with Doom and a couple from the Jaylib LP.

Only a few of the mix's tracks call for the skip button, and it's mostly because Dudley Perkins's lounge-y, spoken word style is an acquired taste. Most important, though, the lineup here is dramatically varied from Point A to Point B, and that's what sets the label apart from its contemporaries.

The DVD that accompanies the mix is proof of the label's boundless corners. There's a captivating short film for Koushik's "One in a Day," which dabbles in a bit of fascination with Syd Barrett, and the crafty Madvillain "All Caps" video in the DVD's main features. The Charizma stuff is humorous and a good snapshot of his unquestionable talent, and the bonus stuff features a great live Jaylib piece from London as well as some candid chats with Egon, Madlib and Doom. The package is a nice explanation of the label's output -- going after all of these records individually could mean financial disaster for the avid fan.

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