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9th Wonder Interview

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Willie SKRILLA View Drop Down
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    Posted: June 24 2007 at 3:58am What was the first song or artist that inspired you to produce?

9th Wonder: ďThey Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)Ē by Pete Rock & CL Smooth. I saw the video first before I heard the song, and itís just the whole atmosphere of the video. Then the classic horn break in the beginning. And Pete Rockís whole vibe in the video. It made me think, ďIíd like to produce for those dudes.Ē I thought I was going to go to law school since I was a history major, live a normal American life, but it just didnít turn out that way. Now, here I am. Itís obvious that youíre an '80s cat. So, hypothetically speaking, if you could make the soundtrack to any '80s cartoon being made into a major motion picture, what would it be?

9th Wonder: Because Transformers is out now, I canít say that. But then I heard Pharrell is making the soundtrack to Voltron, so that cancels that out. G.I. Joe, there we go. If they make that into a major motion picture, please call me up. Those were my top three favorite '80s cartoons. The South has really risen since you first stepped on the scene with Godís Stepson. Are you proud of the recognition that the South has been getting lately?

9th Wonder: Iím happy that Black people are making money, legally. Iím happy for that. Any Black man getting money, and as crooked as this industry is, and they ainít out hurting nobody, Iím all for that; but the quality and the sound of it, I ainít with none of that. I mean, Iím from the South, but I donít get into that whole territory thing. I like good music, no matter where it comes from. I will champion good music before I champion a region any day.

And I try to look at it like this music isnít made for me and my generation, itís for these high school kids. But then I get concerned when 35 year-olds listen to the same stuff. And Iím analytical, so I start to look at that manís life. My dad didnít come sit down and listen to N.W.A. with me. He made me sit down and listen to his music, which helped my music and enriched my soul. Thatís whatís missing today.

Now everything has slowed down, drastically, and everything is two and three syllables. [Lil' Boosie's] ďWipe Me Down,Ē [Hurricane Chris'] ďAye Baby,Ē [MIMS'] ďThis Is Why Iím HotĒ... everything is just so simple. I ainít got no problem with it, it just ainít me.

And Iíve come to realize, as I grow older, that thereís more followers than leaders in this world. And I also feel likeÖyou know how you feel like youíre alone? Youíre in a party and all your peers are going crazy, and youíre standing around like ďI donít get it.Ē And you know they donít really deep down like it, but that they just want to jump on the bandwagon? I want to be one of those people that stands up and says, ďI donít like it.Ē I also donít think itís carrying the tradition of Black music and teaching the kids. And not everyone is meant to teach, but just donít ask me to play it in a party. I just canít do it. People know youíre laid back, but they donít know youíre really a family man, which I think is dope. How do you balance family life in an industry that seems to thrive on deteriorating households?

9th Wonder: I donít get into the Hollywood stuff. For instance, me doing this interviewÖmost times you have to go through five people to get to the person. I think thatís ridiculous. People do that to seem elite. Iím no into that. Iím from the South and thatís one thing I can say about the South, we grow up, go to college, get married, support our families, and we die. I still live that lifestyle; I just make beats for a living. But with my family, I leave 9th Wonder at the door.

Itís funny. People seem surprised that you arenít an a**hole. Like, people always say Iím so cool when they meet me, and Iím thinking, ďHow am I supposed to be?Ē But my family comes first, and I just canít see myself being Hollywood. Iíd rather be like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis than like Kanye [West], no offense to Kanye or anything. And I feel like if I can do that, I can still go into Wal-Mart and Best Buy, and have one or two people come up to me and say they like my music, instead of having people screaming anytime they see me. I donít want that. The game right now is really bleak. It seems that everyone is struggling to stay afloat, and attaching themselves to anything that sounds hot to do so. If you could pick one artists who really needs your help right now, who would it be?

9th Wonder: Man, I donít know. Umm, Iíd have to say Lauryn Hill. We need Lauryn. Women need Lauryn. Umm, Heavy D. And yes, I said Heavy D. I really want old LL Cool J back. Yeah, heís with G-Unit now.

9th Wonder: Yeah, he needs some guidance. [Laughs] Youíve been in the game for a minute, and have accomplished things that other producers strive for. Still, you seem to fly below the radar, while someone like Nitty makes one hot track and people are all over it. Do you ever feel pressure to adapt or conform to stay afloat?

9th Wonder: No, I donít feel pressure because for some people, music is all that they have. For some people, its like ďIf I donít do music, what the hell am I going to do?Ē Or like this imaginary building that people say theyíre in; they will do whatever it takes to be in the building. Like ďIím in the building!Ē What is that? Me, I deejay. I spin, so I will always have a job. I teach college, thatís another avenue, so I will always have a job.

I started below the radar in this ďundergroundĒ era, and use that term loosely. I did music just because, and I just started to get paid for it and that led to other things. So I think that thereís a difference between staying current and doing whatís hot. Like if you have dial up and you get a modem, thatís staying current. But having a [Dodge] Roadrunner and then going out and getting chromed out spinners, thatís doing whatís hot. Pharrell told me a while ago to always think six months ahead of the game, so when people are doing whatever theyíre doing, youíre always working on something new, on a different level. I just try to do that. I feel like thatís a big issue right now-people trying to do what they think is hot. Like have you heard R. Kellyís album?

9th Wonder: I think the R. Kelly album is an abomination of Black people. The zoo song- if thatís not the most ridiculous s**t. It really hurts me that Black people are going around playing that mess. Like one, you know the n***a is going around peeing on little girls, and past that, he is talking about monkeys and trees. If you support that you donít even deserve to be Black no more. He wants to jump on records with all these young cats, damn T-Pain. He is supposed to lead not follow, and I think that only happens with Black music. That doesnít happen with White music. Bon Jovi and U2 are going to play their jams that everybody knows, and everyone is going to go home and be happy.

I just think itís a problem when youíre 36 years-old and sitting on the 106 & Park couch. I mean, I know that is the only medium sometimes, but look at the audience. Those kids are 14 and 15, screaming ďI love you.Ē Something is wrong with that. Iíd just rather appeal to my peers. If a 17 year-old likes me, itís because they like my music. Iím not going to pander my music to suit them. Big ups to Omarion, heís trying to do it. Heís trying to bring real music back for the younger generation. Itís hard getting a 33 year-old dude to buy Omarionís album. But the album is hot. I wanted to talk to you about your new teaching career. You started teaching a Hip-Hop course at North Carolina Central, how is that going? What have the students been teaching you?

9th Wonder: The class is ďHip-Hop in ContextĒ and it covers Hip-Hop from 1973 to 1997. We do that because we know the age bracket weíre dealing with doesnít really know anything about those years. They may know up to '84 because of their parents. I bring turntables to class everyday so I can play the song that Iím talking about. Last year we had Dana Dane, Doug E. Fresh, Monie Love, DMC, Buckshot, Kurtis Blow and a few other people come by the class to talk or come to a panel. Itís cool. We are trying to bridge the gap and get to the youth before some White school gets their hands on it, and begins to take it away from us.

What Iíve learned from students is that they donít view Hip-Hop the way we used to. [KRS-One's] ďBlack CopĒ was a party song with a message. [Public Enemy's] ď911 is A JokeĒ was a party song with a message. [Boogie Down Productions'] ďJimmyĒ was a party song but also taught you about safe sex. But now, if itís a message, I got to be still and burn incense to listen to it. They think they canít party to Common. They figure, ďI need something I can party to, so Iím going to listen to something ignorant.Ē

And I also learned that its mainstream effects are different. I had to wait a week for Yo! MTV Raps to come on. Like, we starved for it. But now, Hip-Hop is everywhere, on the McDonaldís commercials, on the cell phones, everywhere. It's been said that you are no longer associated with the group Little Brother, is that true?

9th Wonder: Yes, itís true, but thatís all Iím going to say about that. Okay. But you are still a part of the Justus League, right? Do you guys have anything on the platform right now?

9th Wonder: Yeah, weíre always working on something, whether itís on the surface or not. The Little Brother album, Get Back, is coming out soon. I donít know when.

Within the next year, I have five albums coming out. The Dream Merchant 2, itís going to be a lot of cursing, umm, a lot of rap joints more so than R&B joints. But I'm doing another album called The Wonder Years that will probably be half and half. And thatís going to be an album where thereís no cursing. I do that because Iím 32 and I know thereís a lot of parents that have kids my kidsí age, and the recurring statement I get is, ďMan I love to listen to your music, but I can't listen to it around my kids.Ē So thatís what I'm aiming for. It ain't gonna be a Christian album, but Tribe Called Questís first two albums didnít have a lot of cursing on it, so I figure it can be done. Then Buckshot and I just finished The Formula and then Jean Graeís Jeanius is coming out, that we did like three years ago. And then Iím doing an album with Murs entitled Sweet Lord, which has no cursing either. Then outside of that, I have an Erykah Badu single coming out, and people will hear that soon. And I hope that song really pushes me into the category I want to be in R&B, but with a bottom to it. Umm, I did a joint for Small World, an artist on DTP; Teedra Moses. In a previous interview with AllHipHop, you talked about how the mixtape game was getting old. How do you feel when talented cats like Kanye are jumping on the mixtape bandwagon?

9th Wonder: I think it goes back to trying to stay current. Thereís power in mixtapes. I have a friend that owns a mixtape store, but he also sells vinyl. So Iím in there recording on wax sometimes, and it was just so many people who came in and said, ďDo you have that T-Pain?" You think they want the album, but they want a mix cd of just random T-Pain songs. Itís crazy. It used to be the DJ Clue mixtape and The Doo Wop, those are the ones I remember, but now its like you can barely hear the song because there is so much yelling. So itís just staying current.

Everyoneís so big on hood love, and the only thing that circulates in the hood is mixtapes. Whatever is recognized in the hood somehow trickles down to White people, which they often times hate to admit. Black people created everything, and people want our swag. So with that hood recognition, youíre hot. Although I must admit, I love Lil' Wayne. I like Lil' Wayne too, but heís getting reckless with these mix tapes.

9th Wonder: I know, but heís clever. He has incredible flow. His voice is dope, and he makes you laugh. So until Jay comes back, heís the best rapper alive. Iím on his side. Iím not a fan of the ďFiremanĒ and ďGo DJĒ [from DJ Khaled's album]; Iím just a fan of his style. So whatís up with a Lil' Wayne album?

9th Wonder: Itís funny you say that. I've been sending him beats and Iím like ďJust do a whole mixtape with these beats. I donít want no money. Just put it out how you put it out, n***a. Just give me production credit.Ē So that would be hot if he did that. Before I go, whatís up with Amy Winehouse? People say she thinks sheís Lauryn Hill. Do you like her?

9th Wonder: I love her. I love her album. Black people kill me. When a n***a does it, they donít pay it no attention, but let a White person do it, everyone has a problem. Like, Robin Thicke had one of the best R&B albums out last year and people are hatiní because heís White. People think that Iím going to suffer because they ainít making no good music, not gonna happen. I will bump the White people. So big ups to Amy Winehouse. [Laughs]
You can't win with women. You just have to maintain."
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carrie View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carrie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 26 2007 at 5:35pm
WOW.  This was great.  Thank you soooooooooo much.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 25cent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 11 2007 at 5:38pm
good information willie
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