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Pat Douthit aka 9th Wonder is arguably one of the best producers in the game. He’s established himself time and time again and has used his clout to even start his own collective, It’s A Wonderful World Music Group. The album, “The Wonder Years” serves as a reminder of his beat-making prowess and as a showcase for the artists he’s taken under his wing.
It is important to note that 9th Wonder is a North Carolina native and on the tracks are many other North Carolinians bringing the heat. Phonte of Little Brother fame is featured on a couple tracks. Duo, Actual Proof, is featured individually on tracks Streets of Music and Pirrhanas. Rapsody, a former NCSU student and Kooley High emcee spits alongside Erykah Badu on the track 20 Feet Tall. Fresh heir, King Mez, flexes his lyrical muscle on the track Hearing The Melody. Producer, Khrysis , known from being one of the beat-makers for North Carolina hip hop collective Justus League is on the introductory track with 9th’s rapping alter ego, 9thmatic. And distinctively voiced rapper Thee Tom Hardy is on track 13, Your Smile.
This album is without a doubt a celebration of North Carolina hip hop, but is also undoubtedly more. It would be dishonest to not give credit to the artists who unfortunately do not share the same geo-spatial locality as us; Skyzoo, Fashawn, Kendrick Lamar, Median, Jean Grae, and many others are deserving credit. In the opening track 9th Wonder muses about his legacy. “I Don’t think we decide our own legacy to be honest with you[….]when you leave the game or leave this earth people will decide your legacy for you.” His humility is genuine as he was the same person at the free showing of the accompanying documentary following a Year in 9th’s life. While there he mentioned a conversation he had with Jay-Z. Aware that he has made it in the industry, Jay told Pat the next step was to promote upcoming artists and it is obvious he took it to heart. Every beat on the album, is dope, every single one. The lyricism however isn’t the strongest and the intermixing of all the artists at times can seem sporadic and lacks a central message.
Also, for anyone who isn’t a huge fan of R&B there are tracks which are seemingly extended using soulful warbling as filler. The hook, “It ain’t cool to make a love song, they lookin’ at me like there’s something wrong,” from track 15 made me cringe and the rest of the song is pretty cheesy for reasons unrelated to it being a love song. My favorite tracks are 2,3,5, and 9. I rate the album 4 out of 5 stars.