Peanut Butter Wolf (Chris Manak) is the Los Angeles–based DJ/producer and mastermind-contriver behind Stones Throw Records. Can you say they're the best record label in the world? If you're having that conversation, Stones Throw is in there, and they're up there. People like to classify Stones Throw as a "leading name in underground hiphop circles," but they're not underground—Stones Throw is the ground. The innate-gold ground, tasty ground, or foreground—the consistently what's-what ground. Since 1996, Manak has simply been putting out what he likes. And what he likes is the shit. His J Dilla connection brought about the holy Donuts (and last year's all-7-inch reissue). Then there's the vitalical (yes, that's vital, critical, crucial, essential) nature of Madlib/Madvillain. More recently, Manak has spread his spectrum with James Pants, DâM-FunK, and Mayer Hawthorne. At his core, Manak is a crate-digger extraordinaire whose ear-brain can smell what the world needs to hear. Manak spoke, calling in from Montebello, California.
You've been on the road. Do tell us a road story. The worse the better.
I have a bad one. It's good, though. Bad meaning good, I guess. We were driving in the tour bus near Denver, and out of the blue, I started having breathing problems. I couldn't figure out what it was. First, I thought it was a panic attack, then I thought it was the altitude, being in Denver. Then I just thought I was losing my mind and asked them to pull the bus over. I'd kind of let it go for a long time because I didn't want anybody to think I was a weirdo. I really couldn't figure out what it was. We googled it, and someone thought it might be cabin fever from being in the bus too long. I thought maybe it was a mosquito bite and the mosquito had malaria or something. Or the flu. Or a spider bite.