A live performance from Peanut Butter Wolf is not a typical DJ set: Wolf, aka Chris Manak, will probably not spin much vinyl. He’s more likely to create an audio/visual experience comprised of music videos pulled from his personal collection of rare VHS and beta tapes, DVDs, and laser discs.
An evening with Peanut Butter Wolf can feel like a virtual hip-hop history lesson that aims to remind those who attend that hip hop is not monolithic: the music and videos are an archive of the many elements – soul, funk, B-boying – that inform what hip-hop was and is.
The 2013 film Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton documents the story behind Los Angeles-based Stones Throw Records, the label Manek created in 1996 that includes a long list of independent hip-hop, soul, and funk artists like J Dilla, Madlib, Mayer Hawthorne, the Stepkids, Aloe Blacc, Dam-Funk, James Pants, and many others. “The work that Peanut Butter Wolf does I think is, like, necessary,” the rapper Common says at one point in the film.
Peanut Butter Wolf performs Friday, Nov. 21 at Leo’s in Oakland and Saturday, Nov. 22 at Brick and Mortar in San Francisco.
Photo by Jake Green. Courtesy of Stones Throw Records