Published on July 3rd, 2011 | by Boman12l0
9th Wonder: Automatic
When 9th Wonder is not making beats for the likes of Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, or Drake to name a few, he’s producing full albums for just about everybody. Yes, full albums, just like back in the day when it was just one MC and one Producer. Understand that 9th Wonder is one of the best.
There is something special when a producer pairs with a MC to make an album. More so when 9th does it. Besides the excitement from the initial “dream pairing,” a 9th Wonder project always has a mystique surrounding it. People always ask what 9th can do so project A does not sound like project B. Doubts aside, 9th has not failed yet, and artist keep coming back to him for albums. And for good reason – he does great work. We here at the lounge appreciate great work so here is a rundown of a few of his collaborations.
The Minstrel Show
A lot of Rap-addicts claim that Little Brothers first album The Listening is their best work, but I prefer the group’s second release The Minstrel Show, more so because of Rapper Big Pooh’s second round effort. Often labeled as the group’s weakest member, Pooh brought nothing but his A-game to the show. With rhymes like
“Imagine, if this was the last rhyme I ever wrote
The last words that I ever spoke, NO
I’m a keep servin them
Cause its somebody out there, that never even heard of him
Or the songs I be murdering”
He is backed beautifully by 9th Wonders drums. The Minstrel Show is a team effort with strong performances by everyone. Phonte and 9th are always on point but it is Pooh’s development as a rapper that sets The Minstrel Show apart from “The Listening.” Setup like a rap variety hour hosted by Chris Hardwick, The Minstrel Show is packed with 9th Wonder bangers and performances from the Justus League. The Minstrel Show is a must hear.
Understand how hard of a choice this was. Even That dude Con Queso did not want to choose.
But choices had to be made, and we are the folks making the choices. While Murs 3:16 is hot (it’s a great album on its own merit), Murry’s Revenge is the standout Murs & 9th Wonder collaboration. Murs and 9th have a natural chemistry. Murs’ comic tales of romance and mishaps are accented perfectly with some whimsical 9th Wonder beats. When Murs wants to switch it up and get more serious 9th is right behind him.
Murs is no lyrical champion but his rhymes are full of insight. The type of knowledge that can only be gained through experience. Covering everything from barber shops to race identity (Tiger hope you are a listener) Murs is pretty blunt. If he is feeling a girl, he will tell her while being backed by 9th Wonder drums with the perfect Ben E. King sample. Also the title track is a monster! “Murs get Em!”
“Oh what are you going to do now Jean Change your flow…No. 9th change your drums…No, Let’s go”
One of 9th’s most frequent criticisms is his use of the snare drum in most of his beats. Some feel it is played out; you either love it or hate it. Jean Grae playfully jokes about that on the introduction of her album with 9th. Jean, who has also been under fire from critics for her “staid flow,” lets listeners know that things have not changed and that the two will be bringing their best to the table.
Jean’s rhymes weave in and out of the soul samples on top of 9th Wonders drums on “Billy Killer”. 9th adds some horns to the mix for “Think About It” and flips the beat on us in the middle of “American Pimp.” Jean’s a lyricist and 9th’s beats explode when she takes off. Yes the Snare is present most of the time, it’s like his signature, but that is not his defining characteristic. What makes 9th Wonder so great is how he changes everything else up depending on who he is working with. 9th gives Jean room to flow on the album. A trait most evident on “My Story,” a track where Jean conveys her underage pregnancy, abortion and subsequent depression. She tells the story of how she grew and learned from these experiences while displaying her unmatched lyricism.
Second chance efforts are always hit or miss. The sophomore slump is a title that many artist hate to be given and one that 9th Wonder has avoided.
His second album with chemistry partner Buckshot may not have the recognition of other 9th Wonder collaborations but is still a solid album. Like Murs, Buckshot’s rhymes go perfectly with 9th‘s productions. He has the perfect timing with the samples and drums. On “No Future,” 9th adds a bass guitar that sticks with Buckshot the whole track, while the sample by “The Sylvers” loops in the background. Talib Kweli and Tyler Woods stop by on “Hold it Down,” where everyone is in their best form. Although The Formula might not be one of 9th‘s more memorable efforts, it is a worthwhile listen for fans of either artist. Buckshot and 9th Wonder go together like butter and toast.
Death of a Pop Star
Death of a Pop Star is 9th Wonder’s latest collaboration and one not many people saw coming. David Banner, a successful producer himself, announced that he was looking to hand over production duties to someone else for his next project and 9th Wonder was chosen.
Death of a Pop Star is like nothing 9th has done before. Who would have thought that Banner’s aggressive in your face rhymes would mix with 9th’s soul drums. Odd pairing or not, Death of a Pop Star is some of the duos best work to date. Banner flexes his lyrical muscle from start to finish, dropping gems on each the albums 10 tracks. 9th on the other hand, relies more on live instruments than soul samples for this project (don’t worry the snare is still there), But he still makes some absolute bangers that match Banner’s southern Flow.
Tracks like “No Denying (Channel 3)” and “Mas 4” are reminiscent of Madvillian songs (another odd Producer and MC pairing) with no hooks and roughly 2 minutes in length. Beats and rhymes are the focus here. 9Th Wonder even drops some bars on “Silly,” letting us know it’s good to be 9Th Wonder.
The album is not lacking in guest features, as David Banner and 9th Wonder bring in big hitters like Ludacris, Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton and Erykah Badu. Death of Pop Star is two artists at their absolute best. It is a must listen if you call yourself a fan of Hip-hop.