9th Wonder: The Wonder Years

9th Wonder - The Wonder Years album coverSince 2011 hit,  quality hip hop albums have come out one after the other….it was just over half a year, I had to ‘Wonder’, what more greatness are in store for us for the rest of the year? I found out that 9th Wonder is finally dropping his long awaited album ‘The Wonder Years’. So is it worth the wait and worth wondering?

The album begins with 9th telling the listener about how a legacy should be defined, before Khrysis breaks down 9th’s storied career and how he was going to ‘Make It Big’. After that Phonte & Median join 9th in a track they call ‘Band Practice’. The only element missing is Rapper Big Pooh. Are they hinting that a Little Brother reformation is in the works?

If there is any MC in the game that knows about ‘Loyalty’, it’s Masta Killa. This is also featured on Masta’s upcoming album ‘Loyalty is Royalty’, however there are minor differences, this version sounds slightly unfinished, but has Halo bringing a third verse whereas Masta’s version has a
slightly extended hook in the track.

The R&B vocals of Mela Machinko had me immersed in this track, she sings about being in doubt and playing games with a guy who was interested in her, and then she admits that she was really feeling him and did not know how to handle it. The dude’s role is played by Median in the track ‘Now I’m Being Cool.’ 9th’s soulful production really shines here.

As 9th’s production shifts in a more, smooth jazzy feel, Terrace Martin wants back in on the action. He joins Talib Kweli in ‘Never Stop Loving You’, where the two use their wordplay on hip hop, referring the art form as ‘her’, first demonstrated by Common Sense.

The other half of Actual Proof, Sundown joins Blu speak on hip hop biters, better known as ‘Piranhas’. Like a lot of like minded readers on this site and the Unique Heat facebook group, Sundown & Blu still strongly feel that biting should NOT be allowed in hip hop EVER.

If you thought Floetry’s Marsha Ambrosius over a Dr. Dre produced track was magic, think again. ‘Peanut Butter & Jelly’ sees Marsha telling the listener that she feels better working with 9th here, and it definitely shows.

Terrace Martin, Phonte and Bird & The Midnight Falcons show these autotune abusers how it is REALLY done on the track ‘One Night’, sounding like an 80’s disco record, it sets the tone for when one is with their partner. Cue formation dancing in the club!!!! The soul flow continues as 9th Wonder remains on the grown and sexy club vibe with the track ‘Your Smile’, accompanied by Hollyweerd and Thee Tom Hardy.

Joining Masta Killa from the Wu-Tang on this album, Raekwon laces the 9th Wonderful beat ‘No Pretending’. He and Big Remo warn all the fake artists that it doesn’t look comfortable doing what they’re doing. 9th adds a few instruments that gives a hint of that RZA sound that 9th was so inspired by.

If doubters try to say that there are lack of female MCs in the game, 9th will beg to differ. Rapsody tells a tale of a situation where she got caught up but she had to be the bigger person out of it….she realises now she is ’20 Feet Tall’. Erykah Badu lends her vocals over the smooth remix.

It ain’t cool to make a love song….but 9th makes any track cool. Mac Miller says that love will get everybody in some point of their lives, no matter the life they lead…In ‘That’s Love’ featuring Heather Victoria, Mac explains how he has to fend of all the hoodrats now that he has a good woman by him.

Terrace Martin helps 9th close out the album with the track ‘A Star U R’ featuring Problem. If you ever wondered ‘pun intended’ what Michael Jackson would sound over a 9th beat, I think this track would be the answer.

The Wonder Years is more diverse than The Dream Merchant offerings, and yet 9th maintains the soulful flow throughout. This is that album that you rock in your room and zone out to….and if suits your mood then it is worth checking out. Hip Hop fans that strictly love those bangers will find that this may not be for them, but you can’t be all ‘fist and fire’ all the time…sometimes you need to chill and ‘wonder’ why these quality tunes are not promoted enough.

(Mike Dogg)


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