The Hip Hop Speakeasy has finally entered the List game. We have opinions, too, and would love to share them with you! So for our very first list, in light of releasing two albums this week (one that was awarded Hip Hop Album of the Week by us here at HHSE), the legendary, Grammy award-winning hip hop drum master known as 9th Wonder is the subject of our first list. Zach & Stone decided to throw in their two cents and compile a list of the Top 9 Albums Featuring 9th Wonder Production. Check out the list and let us know what your top nine would be in the comments below!
- 1 8. “Chemistry” by Buckshot & 9th Wonder
- 1.1 7. “The Formula” by Buckshot & 9th Wonder
- 1.2 6. “Jeanius” by Jean Grae
- 1.3 5. “Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition” by Murs & 9th Wonder
- 1.4 4. “Murray’s Revenge” by Murs & 9th Wonder
- 1.5 3. “Dream Merchant, Vol. 2” by 9th Wonder
- 1.6 2. “The Minstrel Show” by Little Brother
- 1.7 1. “The Listening” by Little Brother
9. “Death of a Pop Star” by David Banner & 9th Wonder
This one has got to be the most unlikely pairing on this list. I was skeptical at first when I heard 9th was going to do an album with David Banner. But then the more I thought about it, the more I’d hope 9th would bring out the man who wrote “Cadillacs on 22s” and leave the guy who wrote “Play” at home.
9th did an excellent job of finding a groove for Banner, that was a little bit outside of 9th’s normal realm, but allowed the Mississippi rapper to flourish. “Diamonds On My Pinky” is a knock out of an intro track, and “The Light” would’ve been a great single in the early 2000s. And “Something is Wrong” is one of Banner’s best moments as a rapper.
8. “Chemistry” by Buckshot & 9th Wonder
Rugged and raw in almost every definition of the word, Buckshot’s old-school approach dominated the voice of this album. Paired with 9th’s super-soulful, magnificently-chopped samples and up-and-down, head-nodding drum patterns, “Chemistry” proves to be a nice debut between this collaborative duo.
The boom-bapness of “Chemistry 101” makes it the star-studded track off the album, while the braggadocio theme of “No Comparison,” the laid-back vibes of “Birdz Fly the Coup (feat. Phonte & Keisha Shontelle)” and the money-praising, high-energy sounds of “Money Makes the World Go Round (feat. Starang Wondah)” all prove themselves as very notable and classic Buck-n-9th tracks. Although a great album, sometimes it’s hard for me to replay the project from start to finish, a quality I tag on to this album that causes it to be placed below the next member of this list…
7. “The Formula” by Buckshot & 9th Wonder
“Ready – Brand Nu Day” stands arguably as the best track Buckshot and 9th Wonder made amongst there several collaborative albums. The simple, crisp drums and the sped-up, chipmunk-sounding sample are impossible to forget. Like I said, this album has a very mature sound and is very consistent, lending itself to be one of Buckshot’s best projects, in my opinion, and the best album to come out from these two’s super-powerful minds.
6. “Jeanius” by Jean Grae
Oh yes, the fine talents of Jean Grae. How do you better her overall sound? Throw her on some kicking 9th Wonder production, that’s how. Shockingly stark in her verbiage and rhyme schemes, Jean Grae throws down any stereotype of female emcees and unleashes the “Jeanius” monster right alongside 9th Wonder.
Although this wasn’t released until 2008, it was leaked years earlier, so it features a very fresh sound from 9th’s earlier days in the hip hop game. The warm ambiance on the ever-popular track entitled “Don’t Rush Me” vastly contrasts the gritty guitar that bangs out behind the “clear-headed” Jean Grae. From straight, lyrical bombs on tracks like “2-32’s (feat. Daily Planet)” and “#8,” to the genius (pun intended) storytelling on the song “My Story,” Jean Grae proves that she can not only go in over a 9th beat, but take 90% of rapper’s asses and hand it back to them. You go Ms. Grae.
5. “Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition” by Murs & 9th Wonder
Who can forget the first time Murs and 9th Wonder did an album together on “Murs 3:16?” 2004 was rocked when these two underground hip-hoppers merged their talents together – one a super producer with the knack of lacing soul throughout every kick and hi-hat in a single instrumental, and the other an emcee with a strong microphone presence and a distinct ability to tell interesting, yet relatable stories.
I doubt anybody can hear the words “Murs 3:16” or Murs and 9th Wonder and not think of “Freak These Tales.” That song pretty much sent these two to the top of the underground hip hop world with some smooth horns and a constant “Hiiggghhhhh” Billy Paul sample singing out over and over in the most catchy of ways. The bumping “Bad Man!” and crashing, street-oriented “H-U-S-T-L-E” also stand out as some of the best tracks off the album. “And This Is For…” is deep and powerful and a memorable track, as well. This album set in stone that Murs and 9th were two hip hop artists destined to work together and it was inevitable that this fantastic project would make it on our list.
4. “Murray’s Revenge” by Murs & 9th Wonder
Ah yes, my first Murs album. While “3:16″ is often regarded as the two’s best work, “Murray’s Revenge” will always have a special place in my heart. 9th’s totally unpolished, lo-fi soul beats, and Murs’ candid, everyman’s rapper style was my soundtrack of the winter of my junior year in high school.
The uplifting “Yesterday & Today” is still one of my favorite Murs songs. Murs flexes his storytelling ability on “Dreamchasers” over one of 9th’s darker soundscapes. And “Sillygirl” and “Love & Appreciate” have always managed to work themselves into exes and girlfriends’ playlists, respectively.
3. “Dream Merchant, Vol. 2” by 9th Wonder
“Heeeeyyyyy-eeeyyyyy, Mr. Dream Merchant! Everything depends on youuuuu!” The second volume of 9th Wonder’s short-lived “Dream Merchant” series was definitely one of his finest solo projects. One of the first albums I heard by 9th Wonder, “Dream Merchant Vol. 2″ will always be a special record to me. The permeating soul throughout the entire album is undeniable and arguably solidified 9th Wonder’s style and sound.
Featuring a slew of dope emcees, this project also shed light on some of 9th’s affiliates, such as Buckshot, Sean Price, Skyzoo and, of course, his Little Brother teammates, Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh. Not only did this album gloriously showcase 9th Wonder’s five-star production abilities, but it has some pretty memorable tracks (besides that classy intro I opened this blurb about), such as “Shots (feat. Sean Price & Big Dho),” “Sunday (feat. Chaundon & Keisha Shontelle)” and “Reminisce (feat. Novej & Big Remo).” No one can deny this album’s spot on anyone’s top 9th album’s list.
2. “The Minstrel Show” by Little Brother
This was by far the most debated album on this list. “The Minstrel Show” is my favorite Little Brother album, and my overall favorite 9th Wonder album. The others on the panel do not favor this album as high as I do. One had it ranked in the middle of the pack, and the other said it was “ass” (blasphemous, in my opinion – hahaha).
Anyways, “The Minstrel Show” was the first 9th wonder album I ever heard in full. It was an eye opening experience for a sophomore in high school who spent the two years listening to The Roots and Talib Kweli, that hip hop could not only be “conscious” but could also have a sense of humor while doing it.
9th’s production is flawless throughout the record (except the one Krysis-laced track, which is also dope), and features some of my favorite beats to date, such as “Hiding Place” and “Sincerely Yours”. But I also feel that this is Phonte and Pooh’s crowning lyrical achievement. Tracks like “All for You” and “Slow it Down” show the two emcees developing their lyrical craft, and offering up some personal anecdotes. While Pooh was often seen as the “wackest out of the trio” before this record, his performances on the aforementioned “Hiding Place” and “Sincerely Yours” show that he stepped up his bars big time.
1. “The Listening” by Little Brother
There is no denying “The Listening”‘s prolific stance in the hip hop world. Nobody had ever heard anything like Little Brother when they burst onto the scene with their famed debut in ’03. Carefully chopped samples in 9th Wonder’s unique instrumentals added to the diversity the group possessed and the rhymes provided by Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh were the cream of the crop.
There’re so many stand-out tracks to name; the brash “Groupie, Pt. 2,” the sweet and soulful-sounding with a touch of classic-90s era rhyme schemes “For You,” and the unforgettable, lady-loving lead single “Whatever You Say” all prove to be the highlights of the album. Other tracks, very golden-era sounding, such as “Speed,” “The Yo-Yo” and “The Getup” all show that Little Brother was doing it right for hip hop. Back-and-forth rhymes and playful wordplay turned Te and Big Pooh from underground emcees to hip hop phenoms practically overnight. Receiving praise from ?uestlove, Pete Rock and DJ Jazzy Jeff and being heralded as a modern-day classic, it is no wonder that this album takes the cake as the Hip Hop Speakeasy’s #1 album featuring 9th Wonder production!