It's about time that someone shined a spotlight on Stones Throw Records, the staunchly independent and fiercely influential label founded by San Jose's own Peanut Butter Wolf.

Thankfully, we now have "Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton (This Is Stones Throw Records," an illuminating documentary that was screened at both South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and the Bay Area's own Noise Pop festival.

Director Jeff Broadway, who previously gave us "Cure For Pain: The Mark Sandman Story," does an excellent job explaining the significance of the Los Angeles-based Stones Throw. He paints Stones Throw as more of a collective -- or, in Silicon Valley terms, an incubator -- than a business, one bent on nurturing creativity and independent thought above commercial concerns.

What kind of music does Stones Throw put out? The kind that Peanut Butter Wolf (aka, Chris Manak) thinks should be heard. Over the years, that has included offerings by such esteemed artists as J Dilla, Madlib and Dam-Funk.

The label's roots, just like the Wolf's, are in hip-hop. Yet, it's also delivered a huge assortment of experimental music, rock that truly deserves the tag "alternative" and other oddities. The label's greatest commercial triumph came in the R&B/soul realm, after unleashing Aloe Blacc on a very receptive world in 2006.

The film spans much of Manak's life, going from his formative years on the Bay Area hip-hop scene in the '80s to founding the label in 1996 to present day. It's an insightful, comprehensive look at a man and a label that refuse to play by other people's rules.


Advertisement

Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic.