Credit should be given where credit is due especially when it comes to great hip hop music. The recent releases of 9th Wonder’s The Wonder Years and Phonte’s Charity Starts At Home are defiantly two solid contributions to the game that must be noted. After the highly publicized fall out between these Little Brother members, this reunion of sorts should not just be noted but celebrated.
Phontigallo and 9th Wonder put out two separate albums but both of them left their mark on each others project. Phonte appeared on two tracks on The Wonder Years: “Band Practice part 2” along with Median and “One Night” along with Terrace Martin and Bird and the The Midnight Falcons. On the flip side, 9th Wonder produced four tracks on Charity Starts At Home: “The Good Fight”,”Not Here Anymore” featuring Eizhi, “Eternally” featuring Median, and “The Life of Kings” featuring Evidence and Big K.R.I.T. Listening to these specific songs is evidence of the high caliber of music that is produced when these two work together. It is reminiscent of the work that they have done together in the past but it shows where both of them are musically today.
9th Wonder is mainly known for his work as a hip hop producer but he has produced widely known R&B tracks for Mary J. Blige’s The Breakthrough, Destiny’s Child’s Destiny Fulfilled, and Erykah Badu “New Amerykah”. He nicely interwove his new R&B tracks with the straight hip hop joints in a such a way that you will bop your head up and down as if there isn’t a difference. Phonte has a history of dabbling on the R&B side of things as well ever since Little Brother’s first album. On Charity Starts At Home he carries on his tradition by singing melodies and harmonies that come across very natural. There are many rappers that do sing their own hooks but Phonte is by far the best to do it.
9th Wonder and Phonte hashing out their issues and getting back in the studio together is only a part of these two artists new albums. The Wonder Years is jam packed with dynamic features from fresh names like Rapsody, Big Remo and Mac Miller to veterans such as Raekwon, Warren G and Talib Kweli. The stand out tracks are “Streets Of Music”, “Piranhas”, “That’s Love”, and “Make It Big” where 9th himself spits a synopsis of his career. Charity Starts At Home’s stand outs are “The Good Fight”, “Everything Is Falling Down”, “Ball and Chain”, and “We Go Off” featuring Pharoahe Monch.
The last couple of years people have been saying that hip hop isn’t dead. That may have been the case but there were only a few good albums to prove that statement. The Wonder Years and Charity Starts At Home are two contributions that serve as supporting evidence. Weather it’s raw beats or raw lyricism you are looking for, either album will suffice. These two albums aren’t just a good look for North Carolina hip hop but hip hop music in general. Everyone should go show their support.