It’s a Wonderful life
9th Wonder talks Duke and what makes the NBA lockout seem bearable.
by Rodney David King / @mehkavelli
Who is 9th Wonder? Some would remember him as 1/3 of Little Brother. To others he’s a Grammy award-winning producer who’s delivered hits for everyone from Jay-Z and MOP to Beyonce. Yeah, 9th Wonder holds all those titles, but that’s not where he ends.
What people are now coming to realize is that 9th is a businessman. This past September he released his long awaited Wonder Years album featuring talent and production from his label Jamla. An electric mix of soul samples, snares and dope lyrics, the disc shows off some of the most talented up-comers in music. Debuting in the Billboard Top 10, Wonder Years was a great look for not only 9th and his recording family, but for a whole state as well.
Recently I caught up with 9th during a meet and greet at the New Era store in Atlanta, GA. In town to promote the new album and his documentary The Wonder Years, he was scheduled to showcase his young talented roster later that night to the music starved audience who came out for the A3C. While at the meet and greet we spoke about his new album, how he choose his roster and why being a Duke Blue Devils fan doesn’t stop him from being realistic about what could happen on Tobacco road.
SLAM: Congratulations on the new album.
9th Wonder: Yes. The Wonder Years came out September 27. It’s on the Billboard Top 10. I never had a record in the Top 10! I don’t give a damn if I sold five records and made the Top 10, I still made the Top 10. So did my brother Evidence, Phonte and of course J. Cole who went number 1. It’s been a long time since you seen records like that on the Billboard.
SLAM: The “Wonder Years” features a roster of new faces for the most part.
9th Wonder: Big Rhemo, Tom Hardy and Rhapsody, GQ, Halo, The Away Team, Actual Proof that’s my team. The Soul Council, that’s my beat team. Since last September we put out a ton of projects. We grind hard! We make great music and the people really feel our music.
SLAM: What made you pick them to work with and what was it like working with such new acts?
9th Wonder: I feel like they were young enough that I can mold them. They can make decisions for themselves, but I can tell them that this is the way and that is the way. It’s kind of hard to teach old dog new tricks.
SLAM: September 27 was a big day for you, but it was also a big day for North Carolina hip-hop. That day was marked down as “NC Hip-Hop Day.” How does it feel to get that kind of love from your home state feel?
9th Wonder: You know, some people liked it, some didn’t. Everybody back home didn’t like us saying that. Everybody ain’t gonna like it. I hope that maybe saying that would creates some kind of competition and competitive spirit.
SLAM: Last year, you entertained us with your NCAA Tournament commentary.
9th Wonder: [Laughs] Tom Bodett.
SLAM: Yes, Tom Bodett. You kept the light on for many loosing teams last March. Who do you see taking it this year?
9th Wonder: I’m a basketball person first. I’m a realist when it comes to basketball. I am a Duke University fan. There’s a difference between Duke fans and everybody else. I can say that Carolina is going to win and they have the team to win and that’s what it is.
SLAM: So if the NBA lockout driving you crazy?
9th Wonder: You know, I got friends that play in the NBA so it’s real sad what’s going on. But as long as we got college basketball, then everything is alright.