Both were united in their belief that the label should explore more global sounds, and they eventually departed to create Six Degrees under the umbrella of then-Polygram-owned Island at the behest of their genre-crossing hero Chris Blackwell, who asked the two to market the "weird stuff, all the nonpop stuff."
After Blackwell left, Duskis and Berry got out of Island with their masters in the nick of time before being entangled in yet another monstrous merger. With an infusion of venture capital, they relaunched the label as a true independent in '98 before hitting it massive with Tanto Tempo. "From the start we treated it not like this was going to be some weird, little world-electronica record but as something for a wide range of people, from young club audiences and electronica fans to older people who had hit the first bossa nova wave to pop and Sade fans. Sure enough, it became the coffee-table world music record of that year," Duskis says. (Gilberto's latest, Momento, comes out April 24).
The success of that album pegged Six Degrees as a world fusion label, but the founders always saw the imprint as more than that, releasing artists as varied as Michael Franti, Cheb i Sabbah, and the Real Tuesday Weld more a global content provider with a highly eclectic palate and fingers dipped in digital distribution; podcasts; music blogs; and licensing to film, TV, and commercials before anyone else. "One thing I'd say we've never tried, as a label," Dukais quips, "is to be so hip it hurts." *
Fri/13, 9 p.m., $15
628 Divisadero, SF
SIX DEGREES' 10TH ANNIVERSARY
April 18, 10 p.m., $10
657 Harrison, SF
NO STOPPING HIM NOW
Gone are the days when Jeff Chang churned out columns for the Guardian, but my Hawaii bud can be excused for burying himself in books such as his award-winning Can't Stop Won't Stop and his compelling new volume, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop (Basic, $18.95). Total Chaos emerged from discussions on the future of demographics and aesthetics in the arts about three years ago and found Chang editing playwright Danny Hoch, artist Doze, and DJ Spooky, as well as essays on hip-hop and queerness. It's a wide-angle take on hip-hop's impact on the arts, triggering what Chang calls "crosscutting debates within the book." And without: "I've seen a review in the National Review complaining that there's no center to this," Chang says on the road. "But hip-hop is about call-and-response. It's not necessarily about people having a consensus." Expect a hot back-and-forth when Chang gathers Marcyliena Morgan of Stanford's Hip-Hop Archive and contributors such as Adam Mansbach for a hip-hop aesthetics talk April 17 (and later on May 8).
TOTAL CHAOS HIP-HOP FORUM
Tues/17, 6:30 p.m., free
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission, SF