The Score: 9th Wonder, "The Wonder Years"
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2011 12:55PM
|THE SCORE||8/10||Buy Now|
|Underground Hip Hop||4/5|
As the Tarheel State continues to dominate this week's new hip-hop releases, North Carolina beatsmith 9th Wonder offers up his latest album The Wonder Years, to retail outlets today.
Like fellow Carolinians J. Cole and Phonte, 9th's latest project has been several years in the making, with many wondering if it would ever see the light of day.
After years of speculation and delays, multi-platinum, Grammy award winning producer 9th Wonder is set to release his long awaited solo album The Wonder Years on September 27th via his own label It's A Wonderful World Music. After a mutual decision to part ways with Little Brother before the groups final album, 9th has put his focus on both on his long awaited solo album, as well as launching the careers of his IWWMG/Jamla signees Rapsody, Big Remo, Thee Tom Hardy and more.(Underground Hip Hop)
9th has put together a wonderful portfolio for himself, with an excellent variety of his signature production combined with artists that provide targeted brushstrokes to add flair to the canvas of his instrumentals. Those who have loved his work from previous productions will be satisfied again.(Artistic Manifesto)
Wonder is filled with artists with years of experience under their belts, as guest appearances from Raekwon, Warren G., songstress Marsha Ambrosius and former Little Brother pal Phonte help push the disc along.
The former Little Brother member has enlisted the help of Raekwon The Chef, Talib Kweli, Murs, Skyzoo, Mac Miller, Saigon, Masta Killa, Kendrick Lamar, Warren G, Big K.R.I.T, Pharoahe Monch, Marsha Ambrosius, Skyzoo, Big Remo, Rapsody, and former Little Brother member Phonte, plus more. It's as if everyone has really stepped up their game for this release. This album really is quality music through and through, and as far as producer albums go I think is pretty much as good as it gets.(Hip Hop Life and Times)
Earlier this year, 9th Wonder expressed his initial hesitation to work with Bay area artist Lil B who appears on the albums special edition.
"Lil B reached out to me 3 or 4 months ago on Twitter and told me he's a big fan of myself and Murs," 9th revealed in an interview. "At the time I didn't know who he was, so I Google'd his stuff, and I was like "ooo-kay" [Laughs]. I saw 'Wonton Soup' and all that. Then, the Twitter world started going crazy off the fact that I was even talking to Lil B...It wasn't until he released a record with Tony Yayo called 'Based,' that Khrysis told me to check out. I heard it and he was saying some stuff on there -- I was digging it -- so of course I hit him back on Twitter to tell him. He was just really adamant about getting up. I told him if we get up -- you can't do no 'Wonton Soup' [Laughs]. And he knew it."(VIBE)
While some critics view The Wonder Years as a lighter fare in comparison to his past work, many agree that it is not only a project worth the weight, but that it fits comfortably amongst 9th's impressive discography.
While it's easy to draw a distinct line between 9th Wonder's hip-hop and R&B work the truth is he's always somewhere in between, adding rhyme-worthy percussion to even the softest ballad and adding some serious soul to even the hardest banger. Maybe a 9th album hasn't sounded exactly this breezy before, but it's far from a detour for the man. In fact, it may be much more of a homecoming.(DJ Booth)
I know the heads will enjoy the unlikely pairing of Rae and Remo on "No Pretending" and the ladies are gonna love Your Smile. The Wonder Years is very cohesive and sounds best when played top to bottom, an anachronism on producer albums. All in all, the strengths and weaknesses of The Wonder Years depend on its collaborations and luckily the Grammy winning producer gels well with the artists he's selected.(Bama Loves Soul)
Preview the album down below: