Published May 29, 2014Commemorating the passing of the late rapper Charizma — who was murdered 20 years ago this December at the age of 20 — Stones Throw released Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf (Circa 1990-1993) on Tuesday (May 27). Compiled by Charizma's production partner and Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf, the anthology includes the duo's entire recorded cannon with rare, classic and unreleased tracks. Revisiting the work has found the producer confronting memories good and bad, and Wolf notes that the process has been bittersweet.
"I think watching the 20-minute video interview with Charizma and I for the first time since it was recorded in 1992 that a friend of mine unearthed for the Stones Throw documentary [Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, also out on DVD this week] was more difficult than putting together this album, but yeah, there were some things that reopened wounds," Wolf tells Exclaim! "I found some unfinished songs that I didn't remember ever hearing. Saw some pictures from his mom that bummed me out, but it all also makes me happy so, of course it's a lot of mixed emotions."
Though Peanut Butter Wolf stopped making music for six months after the tragedy, it was the murder and an ill-fated deal with Disney-backed Hollywood Records for the duo that gave him the motivation to found Stones Throw in 1996, providing an outlet not only for the late Charizma and other unsung MCs, but inaugurating an independent hip-hop institution.
"I talk bad about those experiences at Hollywood from time to time," Wolf explains, "but it's not to point the finger at anyone over there. We were cocky kids who didn't really respect who we were working with, so that played a part in things not working out. When we signed with them, we weren't really that excited about the other groups on their roster and they had never had a successful rap group on the label before signing us, so we kind of went into it with an attitude that I feel eventually was self-destructive. But the head of the hip-hop division we were in had a terminal cancer and when his health failed, his label went with him."
Wolf adds: "I started the label because I knew some talented rappers from San Jose like Encore and Homeliss Derilex, but I made a point of making the first release on the label some songs I did with Charizma that never came out before. That felt really good to start the label that way."
An extensive collection of photographs, paraphernalia and liner notes round out the handsomely packaged Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf (Circa 1990-1993) box set, which features 40 tracks spread out over four vinyl LPs or two CDs. You can grab the set here and listen to some selections from the set below.