people fully understand how 9th Wonder changed the game for producers. In 2003,
he created one of the most fan-friendly trends, remixing entire albums. He took
Nas’ God’s Son and revamped it into God’s Stepson.
Since, a slew of others have followed suit, with largely favorable results.
work with his crew Little Brother was a throwback to the great producers like
Pete Rock or Marley Marl, those beatmaestros that held down entire albums. AllHiphop.com
talked with the 28-year-old prodigy that went from Little Brother to Big Jigga
in one summer.
What made you start doing these remixes, especially the Jay-Z project?
Wonder: They were releasing the Black Album acapella anyway, and I know nobody
was going to expect me to do it since I did God's Stepson. But cats don't
understand is one of the main reasons I did God's Step Son was not only
because it was acapella, but because I really wanted a chance. When you remixing
somebody's joint it feels like your working with that person. Everybody
is going to want to know what I did to it. I got my dream.
To actually be on the album?
Yeah and also I got the chance to work with him and not just that, but on one
of the most historical albums ever, The Black Album, his last album. I got my
dream shot. Other than me there were three cats that did Step Son or did a Nas
record. I'd rather just sit back and watch cats do whatever and jump on
it. It's like when 50 Cent came out with a mixtape just talking, remixing
other peoples songs. How many you know were coming out doing that?
The mixtape thing is getting real old now.
Exactly. I'm waiting to see who puts out what and then I'll put out
a joint, but I'm not really pressing it.
I heard you were the first one doing it remixes like this.
Yea I did it first, then Soul Supreme did Soulmatic and then MF Doom did Nastradoomus.
Then this other cat did Hova's Son and took all of Nas' acapella's
and put them over Jay-Z beats, which I never heard before. I guess it's
something I started, remixing old records. For a long time, cats would put acapellas
over beats and keep it for themselves. Me? I put it out there.
So what's Little Brother up to, anything new?
Well we're trying to get a deal with a major, we're in the works of
doing that. We're working on a new record, trying to get guest appearances
and hope everybody will be surprised as to who our guest appearances will be.
On the album?
Yea, we're trying to raise this backpacking group. Outside of that whole
label, rap is rap. And there is dope music and there's wack music, that's
how it goes. We are trying to find dope MC's whether it be from the underground
or Louisiana. It don't matter, dope songs are dope songs. But that's
what we're trying to do now and hopefully the Jay-Z thing will help us
A lot of people call you the new Pete Rock.
Yea. It's like this, you always know that cat that you grew up with or
went to school with that had the nice ride? They had this they had that. But
Didn't really have to say nothing to no girls, didn't have to develop
a personality or talk game? I quote, "It's the same way with music."
So all these cats that got all this stuff, but no feeling of Hip-Hop music in
their soul, their music is garbage. On the other hand the cats who ain't
blessed with all that, as far as equipment, they take what they have and flip
it. That's why Pete Rock is the master of the SP 1200, because it's
12 seconds of sampling time but he takes that 12 seconds and flips it. You know
what I'm saying?
So all that big studio and all that that doesn't impress me. I'm really
concerned with what's coming out of it. Your finished result. It's
nice to have a cool setting, but what's the point of having all that if
you can't work it?
My brother still has the ASR10. It's not really the equipment, it's
Kanye uses the ASR10 man. I mean make n*ggas change and do what your doing,
don't follow so much. A lot of people came down on me like, why do you
use fruity loops? I ain't have a choice. I did this beat for Jay-Z in the
studio from my laptop. He listened to like 29 of my beats, but he didn't
choose any off that CD. I guess he was seeing if I was good enough for the job.
So I did it in like 20 minutes and he was like man, I haven't never seen
nothing like this before.
So you were right there in Jay-Z's face making a beat?
Well he was in and out, but he told me what he wanted me to do, because he gave
me a idea for a song, that's why when you read the credits it says "Produced
by 9th Wonder for The Planet" and at the end it says "and Jay-Z."
He gave me the idea to chop the song up, but I was like give me 20 minutes and
put it on Pro Tools. It's just the fact that you got to change the game.
It's my way of changing the game, because I ain't about to learn no
machines. For what? I made it this far, why should I change.?
Well going to a major the stakes get even higher. How do you feel about taking
it to the next level? Your going to have budgets and videos, but the bottom
line is the money.
Who you are before you get signed is who your going to be regardless. Some people
get signed and they change, become a better person because they might have been
a terrible person when they were young, but they learned over the years it's
not the way to be. But one thing I can say about myself and the rest, we country
boys man. One thing you notice about down south period, like my man Phonte
says, "There's a lot of honesty in our music. And there's honesty
in our souls." Our parents raised us different. Our parents raised us on
southern Religion as opposed to up North, where its not really a big thing.
We approach life a totally different way and we just want to do records and
get paid for it and do the best we can do. I'm really not afraid of budgets
and this and that, our number one goal is to make everyone else's records
sound terrible. That's our number one goal. Like "our record is dope,
but you hear that Lil Brother record?"
You guys are really different from the majority, like the south is known for
getting crunk and wildin out, how do they feel about ya'll down south?
Well being that we don't have a video and we're not on BET nine times
a day, a lot of people don't know that we're from here. I'm in
North Carolina and a lot of people here don't know that there's someone
born and raised in North Carolina who's on a Jay-Z record, because everybody
relies on TV and Radio so much. A lot of people don't know who we are here.
One thing I do know about the south is that when cat's find out that your
from here they'll support you.
So who else are you producing? Are you having any new people hitting you up
for you to do stuff for them?
Just cats in the Justus League. The industry isn't about taking a whole
bunch of risks. Once they see the success of Lil Brother it's going to
flip the industry upside down. We already the talk of labels. Everybody's
like "who are these cats, where do they come from?" They got this
unique sound but they can't put us in the box. It's not soul or Underground
so what is it? And they are trying too much to put us in a box instead of putting
us out there. I definitely got a wish list of who I want to work with.
Ghostface, Faith and Usher because they make dope songs and their albums are
very dope. Mobb Deep. Just cats like that because we're second generation
rap stars, so it's like all the people I want to work with have either
been out for a long time or I've been a fan of their music for so long
and I really want to work with them. Now I want to do something with Nas.
You never heard back from that did you?
He had to have heard it.
Yeah he got it! So hopefully he heard it and will call me up.
He got to because truth be told your version was better than his.
Well a lot of people wouldn't believe that, but there are a lot of these
cats that are learning. And a real underground cat is just as bad as a cat you
hear on the radio all day. I've gotten from underground cats "oh you
worked with Jay? Man I don't know if that was a good idea." What do
you mean? They just started listening to rap and now all of a sudden they want
to tell us how to think and we all 26.27.28 years old and we know what time
I just talked to Pete Rock and he said he's the Band-Aid to Hip-Hop. Do
you feel similar to that? I consider myself an 80's cat, so when I see
cats now I don't see much in them. Even artists I love, I always compare
them to a G Rap or Kane.
It's not much there. Them n*ggas made money but it was a certain integrity
there and cats don't have integrity anymore. It's just like the Jedi.
In order to be a Jedi, you got to know how a Jedi walks and talks. With Pete
Rock and DJ Premiere they speak at interviews but when it comes to performing
they don't talk a lot. They speak with their music. Now if you're
a producer that can rhyme that's a little something different like a JD
or Kanye West. Even still producers are supposed to be the humble cats that
sit down and chill but when you hear that beat you're like wow. They supposed
to be that and a lot of those cats they don't understand. It's just
the generation destroying the game, like you see they got closed minded, and
cats that sit and watch 106 everyday and feel the only thing that exists in
rap music is the countdown. There's so many that know better and those
are cats that need to fix the game. People try to switch up Jay-Z's perception,
like they think he don't care about the culture. That's crap. He did
in a month that some cats that claim they can rhyme and all that can't
do in seven months. To put together they album and make it sound good in a month,
what rapper you know can do that? I don't know any rapper that can do that.
All they see is he on TV with all these girls.
How old are you?
I'm 28, the beginning of 93, Illmatic, Doggystyle, all that was the corner
stone of hip-hop in that year in a half span. I stayed broke; I bought new albums
all the time.
Sometimes I blame the older heads too because they don't teach them anything
about those times.
It's really hard to teach. You can't really can't teach a group
of cats unless you get somebody to come speak, if they see the passion on your
face they'll understand. In my CD case I had Ghetto boys, NWA, 3rd Bass,
all at the same time, but cats feel you either got to be all down south or underground.