Got a chance to see a screening of 9th Wonder’s documentary, “The Wonder Year”, yesterday, and must say it was excellent. Director Kenneth Price does a great job of chronicling 9th’s life, from childhood through the present day. Already one of my favorite producers, he escalated even further up the list — nothing like seeing someone craft a beat from scratch, especially when they’re employing incredible soul samples.
He spoke extensively on his new album, years-in-the-making, The Wonder Years, as well. Check this:
“The album is basically explaining the different types of music that I love. From the song ‘One Night,’ with Terrace Martin and Phonte, that sounds like a Gap [Band], Cameo, S.O.S. Band, Loose Ends song all rolled into one. My brother is 48, that’s a tribute to my brother. That’s his music. ‘No Pretending’ with Raekwon is my love for Wu-Tang Clan. The song with Holly Weerd and my artist Tom Hardy is my love for Atlanta — that period when Outkast was between ATLiens and Aquemini, that’s what that song is to me. ’20 Feet Tall’ and the Marsha Ambrosious, ‘Peanut Butter & Jelly’ song, is my love for hip-hop soul, my love for Mary J. Blige-type soul. So that’s the album. It just explains all the types of different genres of Black music that I love. Every track.”
Church. His knowledge of Black and American history, and Black music are also major reasons why I have a respect for 9th that extends far beyond the scope of hip-hop. While we often talk about doing things for the culture, it’s too frequently nothing but mere lip service. That’s certainly not the case here, as 9th has brought hip-hop into the academy, teaching courses at North Carolina Central (Hip-Hop and Context) and Duke (Sampling Soul).
One thing that’s clear about 9th is that he 100 percent about the culture, and an avid fan and connoisseur of music, hip-hop, R&B and soul, especially. Of course, that’s what we’re all about here at Love, Hip-Hop and Soul. As a lover of great music, hearing him DJ for two hours last night was an unbelievable treat.
The man has production credits for everyone from Jay-Z to Destiny’s Child to Murs, a list that literally spans nationwide. And it’s all done on Fruity Loops, a point that was hammered home in the film. Thus, below are my five favorite 9th Wonder-produced tracks (right now). Obviously, there’s hundreds of other I could have chosen, and, honestly, hundreds that I’m still yet to hear…
Erykah Badu – Honey; New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
Sample: Nancy Wilson – I’m In Love [Link]
David Banner – Slow Down; Death Of A Pop Star
Sample: The Whispers – On Impact [Link]
Ludacris Feat. Common & Spike Lee – Do The Right Thing; Theater Of The Mind
Sample: Arthur Verocai – Na Boca do Sol [Link]
Drake Feat. Phonte & Elzhi – Think Good Thoughts; Comeback Season
Sample: Anita Baker – Sweet Love [Link]
Little Brother – Lovin’ It; The Minstrel Show
Sample: The Stylistics – One Night Affair [Link]