9th Wonder
Hustle On

9th-wonder1.jpg9th Wonder is a man of principles. It’s been seven months since he left the North Carolina-based group, Little Brother, but the acclaimed producer has refused to reveal the details surrounding their breakup. That isn’t the case, however, with LB’s remaining members, Phonte and Big Pooh. In a previous interview with XXLMag.com, the two MCs credited the split to creative differences and 9th’s refusal to incorporate new sounds into his production. Still, 9th Wonder is tight lipped when discussing the group’s inner turmoil. Opting to bypass beef, the 32-year-old is instead concentrating on two new projects, Dream Merchant, Vol. 2 and The Wonder Years. Both albums look to build upon his extensive resume, which blossomed through his work on both Little Brother albums (2003’s The Listening and 2005’s The Minstrel Show) and freelance production for Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, Mary J. Blige and Memphis Bleek. Dream Merchant will drop later this year on Sixhole Records, while The Wonder Years will be released in 2008 through It’s A Wonderful World, 9th’s new label deal with Asylum Records. XXLMag.com picks the soulful producer’s brain about his new ventures and the Little Brother breakup.

Tell us about the two albums you’re working on.
The first is Dream Merchant, Vol. 2. Camp Lo [is] on there, Mos Def, Jean Grae, Memphis Bleek, Big Pooh, Royce Da 5’9” and Saigon. The second [album] is The Wonder Years and that’s through Asylum [Records], which is under Atlantic [Records]. Asylum gave me a label deal so I could put out my artists and whatnot. The label is called It’s a Wonderful World.

What’s your vision for the label?
I’m looking to do R&B and hip-hop for the crowd that’s 25 and older. I’m 32 years old myself. Not to say I don’t like little kids and stuff like that, I just can’t make music to pander to little kids. There’s a way you can stay current and sound up to date without pandering to a child. I think there’s not enough good music on TV and radio that our age demographic can hear. I’m trying to fill that void [since] I have a current name in the marketplace that goes underground and over-ground.

How has your production sound progressed on these projects?
The sound hasn’t changed that much. The way I chop [beats] changed a little bit. But it’s a situation where I think my production style has changed as far as how I arrange songs—I’m working with a larger scale. I’m trying to mix [it] up a little bit. [There’s] not too many producers out there right now concentrating on funk and soul. Everything is electronic, which is cool, but somebody’s gotta carry the funk and soul torch. If it’s gonna be me, then it’s gonna be me. Pete [Rock] and [DJ] Premier started something and it’s gotta be finished.

Has being on your own without Little Brother allowed you to reach new fans?
I think even when I was in the group… when I did the Jay-Z record [“Threat”] and the three Destiny’s Child records, then Mary J. Blige, that opened the door to a whole other fan group. I get 14-year-olds hitting me up on MySpace because of [Destiny Child’s] “Girl,” not because of an LB record. I got a whole new fan base. Mary J. Blige got on the Grammys shouting my name out. I been on the subterranean for like two or three years. You gotta understand, when Mary J. Blige shouts your name out to this whole group of people that probably never heard of you, that just opens you up to a whole different fan base. It kinda helped me see the demographics and how generations see and listen to music. I think me not being in the group just opens me up to a lot of things. And for the flipside, probably opens them up to a lot of things, too. I think everything happens for a reason, so we’ll see what happens.

You haven’t spoken publicly about your split from Little Brother. How come?
[Laughs] If you notice, any interview I’ve done I’ve never talked about the LB situation. I like to leave it as is. It was time for us to go our separate ways and that’s what it was. I don’t believe in putting out business to the press like that. As my man Aaron McGruder would say, “There’s enough nigga moments going on in hip-hop as it is.” I’m not going to add to it. I just can’t. Hip-hop is in a state of emergency anyway. I don’t want to add to the whole “beef.” That’s so cliché now. Not to say nobody is a grown man but somebody gotta be a grown man and say enough is enough. I’m not even going to get into that.

In a previous interview with XXLMag.com, Phonte said you got comfortable as a producer and you should incorporate more live instrumentation in your music. What’s your response to that?
With answering these questions, I don’t want to pin it like I am answering him. That would be off the record. I don’t even want to feed off that.

But is live instrumentation something you’d like to incorporate into your production anyway?
Yeah, [I did that for this unreleased] Small World joint, “Billion Dollars.” I had [my man] from The Roots play on that one. I just love hip-hop so much that I like chopping records. It’s to the point now [that] I have a “fan base” [and] if I stopped chopping records somebody would be mad. I had certain record companies coming to me because they know I chop records. If I want a Pharrell type beat, I’m going to go to Pharrell. If I want Timbaland, I go to Timbaland. If I want a fierce chopped up record [you come to me]. I’m cool with that.

Has it been frustrating to be criticized for your “need to diversify?”
People gonna talk, and that’s what I learned. If you’re not used to that, then it gets on your nerves. But then after a while it’s like no matter what you do somebody is going to talk. But what supercedes that is when I see and meet people on the street that don’t even look at the Internet or be on the blogs. They say, “Man, I listened to such and such…” That kills all negative comments. What I do in the studio has an effect on someone’s life. So I’m blessed for all of that.

Have you smoothed things over with Phonte and Pooh behind closed doors?
It’s not a situation where we about to ride over to each other’s house. All that is dumb. We live in America and people love drama. Somebody gotta sit up and say, “Nah, I’m not gonna give you that.” And I’m not. They’re putting out [a new album called] The Getback. I got a joint on there. I’m putting out Dream Merchant and they got a joint on my record. The people are not fans anymore. They want to be an A&R. They want to read SoundScan. That may be a sign of the times but [they] don’t want to sit back, lay on their bed, open up the CD, listen to it, bump it in their car and let that be it. Nobody is a pure fan. It seems to me that my age group is more hip-hop fans because we buy it, come home and that’s it. You call up your man and sit on the back of the porch and listen to the joint together. Now it’s like, “Such and such did 45,000.” Why are you concerned with all of that? So I don’t get into all of that as long as we continue to do good music on both ends of both sides. It’s just not in me [to] say this person can’t do this or that. I hope [Little Brother] go platinum. I mean that from the bottom. I hope everybody does well in the situation.

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  • Stax On Deck

    Damn Shame. Little Brother was a very talented group. I hope nothing, but the best in their solo careers!

  • mac

    keep doing your thing 9th!

  • IT IS I

    9th sucks

    • Centric

      wow…9th sucks!!! I see we have a Mannie Fresh Fan In the House..

      Get The Fuck Outta Here…9ths dope homie

    • jonnyB

      Pretty much whoever “IT IS I” really has no f*cking clue what real hip-hop music is. 9th Wonder is hip-hop!!! Do your research chump!!!

  • Holla

    I respect 9th not wanting to put LB’s business out there – but he looks like he’s hiding something. Phonte says alot of shit in the last xxl interview and 9th has never responded. Phonte claims seemed real to me and 9th doesn’t want to address them cause he knows he’ll end up looking like an ass – imo

  • http://www.myspace.com/ghanghiskhan ill

    Sounds like someone started smelling themselves because their name was shouted. Grow up fam. Cats wanna talk about nigga moments but you cant let hype steer you into thinkin you better than everyone else. Respect due for not airing out dirty laundry but at the same time, dont turn face cause you gettin popular. Stay true to how you came in the game.

  • livefromthe225

    that’s a man in hip hop who acts his age…i respect his mind if nothing else

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  • Ryan

    I love the point that 9th makes about people not even being fans of music anymore, they’re just into the bullshit soap opera/beef side of things and the record sales. Read 90 percent of the posts on here and you’ll see that it’s absoloutley true.

  • that guy

    9th was dope on the listening, but he fell off after that

  • Combat Jack

    the jay-z record is not called ‘threats’. who the hell hires these xxl.com writers?!!

  • ri067953

    Yo, 9th is on point in this interview. What does he have to hide? The reason for the break up is nobody’s business. If you like the music he makes, buy it. If you like the music LB makes, buy it but don’t be like a little bitch and want to get up all in his business. I feel him when he wants to cater to an older demo. The market is flooded with sub-par music and it is time someone stands up to create some real music.

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    “DOpe Beats Dope Rhymes what more do yall want”

    I hope one day you guys comeback, just do one more album together thats all the fans want!! Real Hip Hip will always live. Big up to 9th and LB for Life!!!! oh yea MURS is your rappers favorite rapper……CURTIS……

  • http://myspace.com/estchill Chill

    Such and such did 45,000.” Why are you concerned with all of that?

    das real shit…

    and im bout to be the first artist signed to ninths label…he just dont kno yet..


  • KB Tha Great

    That guy up there is an asshole bcuz that Hov record was called “Threats”.. man at least no your shit if ur gonna come on here and hate!

  • Black Dante

    9th is overrated and his beats are startin to all sound the same. This nigga is keepin quiet cus he knows whats up. He didnt wanna change his style up a litle bit cus he cant. its too bad though cus Little Brother was a good group. Overrated, but good.

  • Holla

    Actually, that song is called Threat. Step your game up before you start bitchin like a lil girl.

  • stoneyisland

    I respect 9th and he spoke wise words. Hip hop is in a stae of emergancy and he refuses to be invovled in any beefs. Now thats real gangsta. Real men use their brains instead of their fist and tongues to settle disagreements. Rock opn 9th.

  • these posts are racist

    9th sucks

  • Stonyman

    He has nothing to gain from talking about the LB split. All it will do is create more drama that isn’t needed. The breakup is between the group if he doesn’t want to talk about it he doesn’t have to.

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    This is a damn shame. First the Fat Boys, then NWA,and now this bullshit! I said it BULLSHIT! When will they learn 2,3,or 4 heads R better than 1. I’m truely amat a loss of words. Nothing but best wishes 4 the remaining members of the group.

  • http://www.bangg301.com Bootleg Bill

    Good show 9th. I like drama as much as the next nigga but if you look at it like a real Black man you gotta ask yourself . . .Why are Blacks the only people who will tear each other down in public? Jews, Asians, Caucazoids (Whites), even Africans (yes, our foreign twins) only do it in the privacy of their own home or in comedy. We try to find every opportunity to dis(respect) each other. We’ll hold press releases, film videos and slander one another over bullshit. Thanks for changing the culture cuz it is what it is! Check out http://www.Bangg301.com if your looking for that Maryland fiyah and sign the guestbook niggas!!!Check out http://www.Bangg301.com if your looking for that Maryland fiyah and sign the guestbook niggas!!!Check out http://www.Bangg301.com if your looking for that Maryland fiyah and sign the guestbook niggas!!!Check out http://www.Bangg301.com if your looking for that Maryland fiyah and sign the guestbook niggas!!!Check out http://www.Bangg301.com if your looking for that Maryland fiyah and sign the guestbook niggas!!!Check out http://www.Bangg301.com if your looking for that Maryland fiyah and sign the guestbook niggas!!!

  • http://www.bangg301.com Bootleg Bill

    Good show 9th. Don’t let them niggas get at you. I don’t know why people get upset when groups break-up. If everybodies talented, it just means more muthaphucking music!!!!

    Speaking of more music – Check out http://www.Bangg301.com if your looking for that Maryland fiyah and sign the guestbook niggas!!!

  • http://www.bangg301.com Bootleg Bill

    Good job 9th. Don’t fall for the tricks,dude. Niggas the only ones who will air their dirty laundry. Jews don’t, Whites don’t and Asians never. Keep making that dope music. Speaking of dope music check out my website – Bangg301 (add the w’s and the dot c0m)for that Maryland fiyah.

  • Tha Flow Of Time

    ye, it is a shame they split, but the homie is layin some real talk down, like bonafide knowledge, especielly that piece about soundscans. i need to get his label’s mail address, haha, if any of y’all kno where i could find it, or others, hook me up…..

  • vincent

    HI TEK, 9TH, PRIMO, J DILLA and PETE ROCK didnt/dont do it for the money. Its with their heart and therefore their music will last forever.

    Im from France and these guys get mad respect while everybody else shits on Fifty and TIP and co, in Europe we see these guys as clowns, with nothing but money in their mind and in their lyrics.

    It goes to show, 9th doesnt need PR stunts to get his music sold in Europe, and lets not consider these guys old school, they re timeless, and as 9th says, you need a producer to do his thing as opposed to producers trying to do everything.

    (on a another note XXL, give Dizze Raskal a cover this year, cause he problably made the most advanced and sophisticated southern…hip hop album of the year)

  • http://myspace.com/cwnewberry Chris Newberry

    Good interview. He is right! I don’t care if the someone’s album sold 10 copies, so long as it is 10 copies of good music. I think it sucks that the good music nowadays is the shit that gets ignored while the generic shit gets pushed out to the masses. Oh well, I will keep contributing to the true artists and continue to ignore the fake thugs and wannabes out there who are pushing 40, acting like they are 10! Both LB and 9th will continue to be successful in their own right, so long as they continue to make good music that is true to their hearts! That is all I am worried about.

  • Marv

    I think 9th was probably part of the problem. His head got too big because he’s worked with so and so and he’s in higher demand than Pooh and Phonte are. The guy is talented, you and I both know that we’d love to work with him. But on the real I think Nicolay from Foreign Exchange is better. Let me add Jay-Z did not introduce me too 9th Wonder. I’ve been a fan of Little Brother since The Listening which came out way before The Black Album.

  • godfather of philly

    Why shouldn’t we be worried about record sales when artists are making bullshit albums. As momma said “the proof is in the pudding.” If white america doesn’t fall for the B.S. that’s been dropping lateley, Why would the Hood ? I understand giving people a chance but how much $$ do think that I’m going to be burned 4 when I buy everybody’s trash because they have a hot single? STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT I’M WORRIED ABOUT AND MAKE MUSIC !!!

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  • http://abc.com AndretheGreat

    It seems everybody loves drama. I respect 9th for not getting into the reason for the split. Regardless of what Te’ says there are always 2 sides to every store and even if 9th didn’t want to incorporate live instrumentation into his production is that really worth the implosion of a good thing. Anyway for old school cats you keep folk out of your business. 9th owes no explanation to me or anyone else for what went down. Please folks let’s be mature enough to respect personal decisions rather than speculate the worse because someone won’t choose the path the next man has chosen. I respect LB and 9th.



  • http://www.rich-arte.blogspot.com Rich Arte

    9th is a visionary and is very articulate. Jay don’t even talk with that kind of conviction. Fans of hip hop need to support real hip hop by buying their favorite artists records from the store, or go to a concert when they come to a city near you. To the tru fans, Continue to copp and support real hip hop. Graduation in stores 9-11-07

  • http://www.myspace.com/libskrib Adlib311

    9th just got to full of himself that he couldent fathom the fact the Lb would have liked different production, His shit is stale and all his beats are very similar, with the similar tone, and possibly even Tempo, I agrea, that if you want a timbo beat holla at him, phareal etc, But that dont meen that you should limit your self to one set style. This man plays instruments but still choses to sample and lay down them rusty ass hi hats and stale ass drums.

    In order to be a producer you have to keep reinventing your self. Trying new things out, if you wanna stay with your signature sound, fine do so, but find new ways to incorperate new influences or sounds into your music. Your style is a “producer” a producer’s style is what he dictates it to be. I produce my self, and i have my own set style. But i step out of the box, Just to be different. Its ok to make shit you dont necessaraly like.

    and 9th is a vauge dude, Hiphopgame gave him a chance to connect with fans and all he do is give one line answers

  • MikePatchTexas

    I actually bought the authentic CD. The song is named “THREAT”. Buy the official release.

  • Yun

    9th is dope and i understand that he likes to stay in his lane but there’s never anything wrong with experimenting and 9th prolly was most of the problem but good music is good music so i dont really mind

  • Caine

    Yeah, it do sound like his boys was like “mane switch dat shit up sometimes.” And 9th was like “Nigga I’m da shit! I produced for Mary J. Blige, Destiny Child, and Jay. Ya’ll niggaz get da fuck in da booth and spit.” And shid, Te’ and Pooh was like fuck dis nigga and his wack ass beats, we out. The only reason Jay copped dat beat from him cuz certain muthafuckas say that LB was “real Hip-Hop” (whateva dats worth). Personally I could care less…

  • dr dre

    9th wonder is a retarded price of shit, saying stuff like “I only make music for 25 olds and over.”

    How can you say that when you use a kid’s program called FRUITY LOOPS to make all his beats. Step your game up 9th and buy a MPC, Pro Tools, SSL etc yu stingy motherf*******.

  • G-Man

    I can’t believe xxl actually did a cover on this washed up /clown/producer, he’s basically a fake pete rock/djpremier who uses a 10 dollar fruity pebbles software to make his beats. I don’t think he has ever made a decent beat – and all his beats have absolutely no bass.

  • Coach D

    True that Caine. I just feel like they handled it the best way they could. Little Brother wanted to add some different elements to their sound, and 9th was on something different. I don’t want to say he was feeling himself too much, he just wanted to do what he wanted to do. You gotta respect that. As you see, he gotta joint on their album and vice versa. And it’s those 9th wonder beats that put Little Brother on. Now they want to fuck with some diffrent sounds…can’t be mad at that either.

  • http://www.myspace.com/libskrib Adlib311

    NOOOO…it was Little Brother Lyrics that put themon, and there song structure with help from 9th wonder. Get thats hit right, i will alsways listen to Lb, now as far as 9th goes, naw, i wont jump up and buy his shit, their lyrics atracted me not the beats, The listening was the best shit he ever made

  • nodoze123

    9th always keeps it right….

  • http://www.myspace.com/sinistah Jon D. A>K>A> SiNiStAh


  • aone

    Can’t hate on him. Don’t compromise your vision no matter what, get down or get on.

    do you 9th.

  • SOUL





  • g Submorphics

    maximum respect to 9th…best in the game

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  • 9th Wonder

    It is ,what it is.

  • JAE


  • LeeMo

    I’ll be one to say I’m proud of 9th. The guy had a dream, and he put it to work. The guy had a vision, and he put it to work. He truly is blessed. His music has touched me–bringing a braod/new vision of life to me. Not too many guys have a chance to do what they want, but God gave 9th that chance. Publicly I want to thank him, and hope my production skills get to his level. Stay up 9th

  • http://read100.com/redbulltriad/ Gxzkiof
  • post break melodik

    this is the lamest shit. hating over 9th how he’s wack coz he be using fruity loops. them niggas sayin those be usin softwares too. for me music is meant to be heard and not looked at..plus everybody wants to jump on the mpc bandwagon just coz of the hype and errbodys usin it. don’t hate coz you people use your lame ass soulja boy softwares coz anybody could make a “hot beat” on a software in 10 mins rather than actually looking and chopping samples. now get off your computer and make some music. fuckin posers. fuck fifty fuck t.I fuck soulja boi fuck everyone on mtv esp that fag lil wayne! fuck you fucking fuck!

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  • Jay

    This is exactly why hiphop aint hiphop no more. We got people speculating “who did what or who said what” when you don’t know shit. Just leave the situation alone and go buy The Listening and BUMP THAT SHIT PERIOD.

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