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.