Fitting together like a suit of playing cards, the 12 tracks off of 9th Wonder and Buckshot’s The Solution must be shuffled thoroughly to be understood. Or else, the danger of confusing subtlety for sloth might have you overlooking what is this talented tag team’s best collaboration to date―easily overtaking the formulaic drivel of 2008’s The Formula and just slightly improving upon the bond they forged with 2005’s Chemistry.
It has been four years since 9th Wonder and Buckshot last paired up, and more than 20 years since Buck released his first album, but neither industry heavyweight appears to be slowing down. The Solution finds Buckshot doing a better job than in his past two at-bats to keep up with the super producer, and he does so by using his relaxed spitting as an anchor. His skills as a lyricist do leave much to be desired, but it’s a steady resolve to cleanse hip-hop of falsities that keep him listenable. Every so often he does drop a B+ line or two, like on “The Solution,” the Black Moon frontman spits, “Back and forth; who loves college, Asher Roth?/ Me, I’m from the university they call raw.” But leave the Pulitzers to the big boys.
9th Wonder is in his usual form, providing a backdrop for The Solution that sounds like the second coming of Soul. “You,” featuring a hook from Dyme-A-Duzin, might be the brightest star in a starry night. Other gems such as “Stop Rapping,” “The Feeling,” “Shorty Left,” and “The Solution” keep the vibe ablaze.
One of the highlights include “Stop Rapping.” Different from the standard putdowns veterans present to young MCs in the form of a lesson, in it, Buckshot raps as a wannabe who might be better off taking up construction or nursing other than rhyming. Sold as a quick-rich scheme, hip-hop is a lot more blue collar than some rappers make it out to be. No one understands that better than Buck, who has worked to the bone as co-owner of Duck Down Records.
As enjoyable as it is to hear 9th and Buck take another stab at teamwork, a Buckshot-heavy mic takes away from some of The Solution’s stronger points. When Rapsody appears at the 10th-track mark it feels too much like a breath of fresh air, while Buckshot is selling himself as one in a smoggy rap game. Still, over the course of three albums, two hip-hop troubadours have perfected a formula that is far from formulaic, and that captures both of their talents. Some people would call that a solution, 9th Wonder & Buckshot call it a day’s work. —Bogar Alonso (@blacktiles)