Published Oct 25, 2011For a project that was first announced what seems like decades ago ― four years, to be exact ― the latest from hip-hop producer wunderkind 9th Wonder doesn't disappoint. The Wonder Years see the North Carolina native ably shift from his standard, bombastic, soul/R&B production for a subtler, more nuanced sound. Patrick Douthit has come a long way from snare-driven Fruity Loops sounds and it's been a progressive and aurally pleasing evolution. The guest stars are many ― Raekwon, Warren G, Murs, Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller and Talib Kweli ― and the line between hip-hop and soul grows hazy with each track. A funked out "Peanut Butter & Jelly" (featuring Marsha Ambrosius) fits in nicely with joints like "No Pretending" (featuring Raekwon and Big Remo) and "That's Love" (with Mac Miller). If a fault could be assigned to The Wonder Years, it's the seeming lack of direction. It's content to hit you with a sonic barrage of beats ― 9th Wonder's production prowess is on display. As a collection of worthy underground tracks, it succeeds. As a hip-hop masterpiece, it's a solid effort that narrowly misses that coveted designation.
What's the meaning behind the album title, The Wonder Years?
It is what it is. All of the years I have lived, [the album] shows you all the music that I love. It shows the R&B side of things and that I've always been a fan of hip-hop. It's kinda like making the music that I want to hear.
What type of sound were you attempting to achieve with this album?
A lot of my artists [from It's a Wonderful World] are on this album and I put them with an artist that people know to give them exposure that way. It didn't really have any deeper meaning than that. But I definitely wanted it to be better than Dream Merchant. (It's A Wonderful World)