Episode 6

Published on:

1st Sep 2021

Peanut Butter Wolf: Founding Stones Throw Records

“It's important to get your stuff heard by industry people but it's equally, if not more important, to find fans who have made it doing the stuff you're doing.” — Chris Manak [0:25:19]

Founding a record label is no easy feat and making it not only survive but thrive for over 20 years is truly awe-inspiring. Stones Throw Records is one of the most prominent independent record labels, having helped develop artists like Madlib, J Dilla, MF Doom, and Anderson Paak, to name a few. Chris Manak, AKA Peanut Butter Wolf, is the Founder of this prolific label, and he joins us on the show today. Along with being at the helm of Stones Throw, Chris is also a DJ and producer. 

Having been exposed to a range of music early in his life, Chris has always had an appreciation for many genres. Many of his young memories have music woven into them, and it is clear these moments cemented Chris's passion. Along the way, he has also been lucky enough to have some positive influences who have been generous with sharing what they have, and Chris now approaches sharing in this same fashion.  

“Making beats and making tracks was what really got me out of [mourning Charizma's death]. It was my therapy more than anything.” — Chris Manak [0:33:08]

In this episode, Chris talks about his musical journey and how he went from saving his lunch money to buy records to where he is today. We hear about his formative relationship with rapper Charizma, and the immense impact that his death had on Chris. After his passing, Chris left music behind for some time, only to return to work through the pain. We also talk about where the idea to start Stones Throw came from, how to stay enthusiastic about music when it is your job, and why streaming, in many cases, is helping rather than hindering labels.  

Key Points From This Peanut Butter Wolf Episode:

  • What Chris's life was like growing up and his first musical influences and inspiration.
  • Some of the first records and albums Chris remembers getting.
  • How Chris started collecting 12 inches in fifth grade.
  • An older person in Chris's life who introduced him to a lot of music.
  • What Chris was doing before he started working with Charizma.
  • How Chris met Charizma, and the relationship they had.
  • The story of how Chris and Charizma started working together.
  • The importance of having fans who have accomplished what you hope to achieve.
  • How Chris and Charizma's manager helped them after they got signed.
  • Hear how Charizma died and the impact that this had on Chris.
  • The role that music played in helping Chris deal with Charizma's death.
  • Some of the first gigs that Chris and Charizma played.
  • Major lessons Chris learned from performing with Charizma.
  • How Chris came to work with Kool Keith.
  • Where Chris first got the idea to start a record label.
  • Balancing musical tastes and trying to stay afloat as a label head.
  • What it takes to run a label and some of the people on the Stones Throw Records team.
  • How Stones Throw came to be a fully-kitted-out label.
  • The biggest challenge that comes with running a record label.
  • The decision to create the Stones Throw Records vinyl bar. 
  • Gratitude Chris feels for being around great music.
  • What being a new father has been like for Chris.
  • How Chris started using video in his performances.
  • Chris's take on streaming services and why he supports these services.
  • Why Chris feels like streaming helped save his label in some ways.
  • Experiences where handshake deals have gone wrong in the past.
  • Chris's top record label and producer picks.
“As a label, we split our profits 50/50 with the artists, and we're transparent with our accounting.” — Chris Manak [1:15:36]
“I think streaming helped save our label in certain ways.” — Chris Manak [1:16:19]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:


Stones Throw Records

Anderson .Paak



J Dilla

Blue Note Records

“When I sign new artists, I feel like I'm living through them almost. When I see stuff that excites them, it excites me. I'm still really proud and thankful for all of the great music I am able to surround myself with.” — Chris Manak [1:06:30]
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The Conduit
The Conduit gives you the unvarnished truth about music biz!
The Conduit is a podcast featuring candid conversations between professional musicians and music biz veterans who give you the unvarnished truth about being an artist in the music business today. Hosted by L.A. musician, producer, DJ and writer Dan Ubick aka Constantine “Connie” Price, The Conduit is real talk, no posturing. Learn from top music veterans as they talk honestly about their struggles and experiences and share with you their wisdom and knowledge. The Conduit is a co-production between Crewest Studio and DanUbe Productions, The Conduit will inspire, educate, entertain and empower up-and-comers pursuing their musical dreams. Follow today!

About your host

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Dan Ubick

Producer/Composer/Multi-Instrumentalist Dan Ubick grew up with music- his father Richard played jazz bass, his mom listened to the Beatles and classical music while designing jewelry while Dan's older brother and sisters listened to Bowie, Traffic, Yes, Genesis, T. Rex and Zeppelin.

However, it was Dan's little sister who turned him onto rap music in the late 80's through to the early 90's; Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, ATCQ, B.D.P. and Big Daddy Kane created endless possibilities. Soul, jazz, rock, country, funk and reggae all melded together perfectly.

Later on Dan's friend Miles Tackett asked him to play guitar in the Breakestra which he did for six years traveling to Europe, Canada, the States and Japan backing everyone from Jurassic 5, Black Eyed Peas and Dilated Peoples to Quannum, Wu-Tang and Freestyle Fellowship. Dan got to play on Breakestra's Live Mix Part 2.

Dan absorbed all kinds of music - from Little Feat to Lalo Schifrin, Fela Kuti to Cymande, Jorge Ben to The Band and The Mighty Diamonds to the Roots Radics. As his record collection grew so did his interest in making records of his own in an attempt to add something new and different to this incredible legacy that he grew up on.

Motivated, Dan built his own Lion's Den studio piece by piece, mic by mic and reel to reel, began to practice other instruments more and collaborated with Blood Of Abraham and Will.I.Am, then Madlib and Macy Gray. Dan started writing and putting out his own material, first as Connie Price and the Keystones (Now Again Records & Ubiquity), then with The Lions (first on Ubiquity, now on Stones Throw) while concurrently producing for television, film, gaming and advertising.

As a studio and live musician Dan has played guitar behind Lily Allen, Joey Altruda's Crucial Riddims, Mulatu Astatke, the Beat Junkies (DJ Babu, JRocc & Rhettmatic), the Beatnuts, Big Daddy Kane, John Bingham, Biz Markie, Aloe Blacc, Black Eyed Peas, Black Shakespeare, Blood Of Abraham, Blue States, Eddie Bo, Brand Nubian, Breakestra feat. James Gadson, Brother J (X Clan), Busta Rhymes, Colbie Caillat with The Transcenders, Novena Carmel, Common, Hollie Cook, Craig G, De La Soul, Dilated Peoples, Chris Dowd, Eamon, EPMD, Kelly Finnigan, DJ Format, Ghostface Killah, Macy Gray, DJ Greyboy, Leroy Sibbles & Barry Llewellyn (the Heptones), Durand Jones, Sharon Jones, Lonnie Jordan (War), Jungle Fire, Jurassic 5, Kurtis Blow, Talib Kweli, Lady Of Rage, Barrington Levy, The Lions, The Mad Geezers, Madlib's Sound Directions, Masta Ace, Method Man, M.O.P., Keyboard Money Mark, The Monophonics, Kendra Morris, Mos Def, Jeremy Sole's Musaics, Myron & E, Night Owls, DJ Numark, Ohmega Watts, Orgone, Percee P, The Pharcyde, Rakim, Rapsody, Redman, The Rhythm Roots All Stars, Sixto "Searching For Sugar Man" Rodriguez, Sa-Ra, Sandy Gold, Noelle Scaggs, Slick Rick, Snoop Lion, Ta'raach, Too $hort, Jade Vincent, Wildchild, Wu Tang Clan and many more.