By Ryan B. PatrickAs a well-respected producer, the always musically adventurous 9th Wonder is never one to shy away from experimentation. In joining forces with scrappy rap vet Buckshot, the North Carolina-based music maker mashes up his trademark percussion-driven, soul sample-laden production with that street grit, Boot Camp Clik-styled flow. Being that this is their third full-length collaboration, the duo no doubt have the resulting boom-bap down pat. The Solution differs from 9th Wonder's collaborative series with West coast rapper Murs (whose appropriately titled The Final Adventure was released on the same day), in that the 12-track project maintains a gully, old school feel to Murs's breezier sensibilities. It's a gritty, soulful sound that holds The Solution together, seemingly aspiring to be nothing more than "Boot Camp meets Little Brother": familiar and stress-free for an audience seeking a vintage feel in their hip-hop.
What's it like working with Buckshot compared to Murs? 9th Wonder: It's different. When I worked with Murs, I already had the beats picked out. Every personality is different. The difference with Buckshot is that we go in and create [together]. It has a lot to do with the pre- and post-Internet generation. With the pre-Internet, it was where the artist creates in the studio and does better that way in catching the vibe. With every Buckshot album, I have to make sure that the original Boot Camp Clik fans are happy. In hip-hop, unlike other genres, you just can't alienate your core fanbase. The first time I started working with Buckshot, I had to face that challenge of staying and [representing] for the core fanbase, to translate the 9th Wonder sound with that and update the Buckshot formula.
What's it like working with a producer like 9th? Buckshot: 9th is a different style of producer compared to people I've worked with in the past. He has his own way of producing samples and songs out of samples. Some people can use a sample and really make a beat around that sample, whereas 9th actually makes a beat with the sample and adds drums around that beat. That's the best way I can describe it.
Buckshot, at this point do you start thinking about your musical legacy? Buckshot: At this point, I'm comfortable with, and have a good handle on, who Buckshot is. The album is naturally called The Solution because it's just going to come down to us at the end of the day; it's common sense. 9th is a producer who's nasty at what he does and when you go in, it comes from 9th Wonder's heart. And when the beat is playing and I listen to it, I know it's coming from my heart. And I think that's what hip-hop is all about.
As the hip-hop genre matures, is there such a thing as "adult contemporary rap" ("hip-hop for grown folk")? And how do we connect the dots between the older listeners and the new, younger generation? 9th: We are in a music industry and in a situation where we have two or maybe three hip-hop generations now. I don't think it would be fair for us to tell the younger generation that's not the type to music that they need to hear. And the generation before wasn't a hip-hop generation; it was a soul generation. You had soul music heads coming up against hip-hop heads and now you have older hip-hop heads going against younger hip-hop heads. I know that when I was 13, I didn't want nobody telling me that I need to listen to Cameo, you know what I mean? Think about it: Public Enemy came out in 1988, [a soul act] like Atlantic Starr came out six years prior. I wasn't ready to hear it; I was Public Enemy, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane. You weren't even going to try and tell me that I needed to listen to Parliament/Funkadelic; I wouldn't have given a damn what you said. So it's the same thing; it's hard for me to tell a kid that's 13 years old to appreciate music that came out before he was born — that's hard to do. I don't think we understand how old these albums are; you've got to let them grow into that. You can't sit down a kid and tell him something like A$AP Rocky is not who you need to be listening to and give him some Pete Rock/CL Smooth that came out 20 years ago — that's hard for a 12 year old to translate. We can't do that; we have to let them make their own musical choices and give them a chance to grow. They'll do it in time, but at 12, they're going to like what's cool to them: someone that looks like them, dresses like them. And there's nothing wrong with it; it's just that we have to let them grow into the classics.
Buckshot: 9th brought up some good points, in terms of the pre- and post-Internet generations. I think that's such an ill analysis of things. When I make music, I've always made music according to the times and where I'm at; I've never tried to reach a plateau that I wasn't comfortable with. But at the same time, the true Buckshot is a jazz fan lover and a lot of people don't know that. There's a version of Buckshot that people know and have come to understand and like. I grew up in a house of jazz and funk, so all these things are embedded in me. And when I make music on a lyrical level, I put all those things in a lyrical flow; I don't just put words together and rhyme. I see people everyday and my core fans are [older] and you've got that underground core of Black Moon and Buckshot Shorty fans, and then you've got the 9th Wonder type of fans: a more middle-class-type crowd. So you have fans that [are more receptive to talk of] street money and drugs, and then other class down with lyricism and [the art of] rapping.