HEARING: Exclusive interview with Hip Hop Producer 9th Wonder
November 11th, 2011 Interview by: Khorry Lewis
There are many sounds in music that display a distinctive yet pleasurable feel; from hip hop to rock and jazz. Patrick Douthit, also known as 9th Wonder, is one of the most influential and soulful producers to conduct a beat, with his music being both timeless and tasteful. 9th is known as the head producer in the hip hop group Little Brother, in which he gained recognition for the soulful sound that caught the eyes of Jay-Z’s studio engineer Young Guru. This eventually led to a meeting in which 9th produced “Threat” on Jay-Z’s 2003 Black Album This was the first breakthrough mainstream album that 9th produced, which opened up new opportunities with Destiny’s Child’s 2004 album Destiny Fulfilled (“Girl”, “Is She The Reason”, Game Over”). 9th later did early production for up and coming artist Drake on his 2007 mixtape Come Back Season (“Think Good Thoughts”). The Grammy Award winning producer was generous enough to sit down and chat with Senses Lifestyle Magazine about music, beats, and more music.
Senses: Who was the first artist that you sampled from?
9th Wonder: Aw man, I used to go to this record store down the street and just buy what ever album sounds good, whatever I could get my hands on I sampled. My favorite artist to sample was Curtis Mayfield The Making of You.
Senses: I notice that when I listen to a lot of your tracks they sound like a 1970’s sample, what is it that you like about that 70’s sound?
9th Wonder: The 70’s just had that warm soulful sound; everything today sounds so electronic it’s a void of a feeling. The 70’s was a soulful era that is still relevant today, you could be 90 years old and Al Green Lets Stay Together can come on and change your whole mood. Out of all the decades of music the 70’s and 80’s has the best sound, everything was soulful and funky.
Senses: Who is an artist that you want to work with that you haven’t had the chance to?
9th Wonder: TI! The joint that he did called Coming Back Produced by Hi-Tek is crazy, the slowed down focused rap TI does is very hard to do, he sounds like a soulful street rapper. I’d love to hear TI rapping in that style over the Mobb Deep “The Realist” beat, I want that TI.
Senses: What are your top 5 favorite 9th Wonder tracks?
9th Wonder: Well the Listening album is up there, when I did that album I wasn’t paying attention to any outside sources in the world, I just wanted to make music. The Reason by Destiny Child, this is my favorite track because I stepped outside my comfort zone and got hip hop cats to listen to the album. Threat for Jay-z, Do the Right Thing for Luda, I felt like a lot of cats slept on this track. Also “Be with you for David Banner and Honey for Erykah Badu.
Senses: Being that you are an NC (North Carolina) native and you work with a lot of NC artists how come you never worked with J.Cole?
9th Wonder: In Hip Hop its more of a scheduling thing. We from the same place but we are just in two different places as far as music is concerned, he has his own sound and I have mine. At the end of the day I love that dude as a person regardless and it’s always love if we make music together or not.
Senses: If you weren’t a producer what would you be doing?
9th Wonder: Teaching, I believe in mastering your craft. I teach at Duke University with Mark Anthony Neal and he is great, he can master and control a classroom. I want to be able to master that and continue to grow within it. I have the opportunity to teach music at a top University along with being invited to teach Hip-Hop at Harvard University and I don’t even have a degree. This is an incredible thing.
Senses: I heard you spit on a few tracks before, when can we expect an album from 9th as the artist?
9th Wonder: (chuckles) I’m not an emcee man, I know what my craft is and what I’m good at and being an emcee is not it. I’m good at making beats and producing, it was for fun just trying to master all techniques of Hip Hop.
Senses: What advice would you give to that new up and coming artist or producer?
9th Wonder: My best advice is to understand your lane in this game. Being able to eat and fame are two different things, accept what comes with the lane. If you are relying on Hip-Hop as your source of food and that is it, you need to realize that it takes time to eat in this game. I accept that I am not an Icon as Kanye or Jay-z but if I am in a room full of those artists I get love and they know exactly who I am.
Be sure to look out for the screening of 9th Wonders short film The Wonder Year
You can find new music from 9th Wonders website jamlarecords.com and http://www.iwwmgroup.com