The Wonder Years
Best known for his breakout work with the North Carolina group Little Brother, 9th Wonder has successfully transitioned from underground favorite to mainstream beatmaker to the stars (Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, etc.), and he continues to churn out some of the game’s most soulful hip-hop productions. After two quality compilation-style albums (The Dream Merchant Vols. 1 & 2), 9th returns with the heavily anticipated third round. The Wonder Years showcases most of the artists on his label, as well as some of his favorite emcees from both coasts. Wu-Tang is represented by both Raekwon ("No Pretending" with Big Remo) and Masta Killa ("Loyalty" featuring Halo). Three generations of Golden State VIPs (Warren G, MURS, and Kendrick Lamar) get busy on "Enjoy (West Coastin')," his old LB homie Phonte appears on "Band Practice Pt. 2" and "One Night," and futuristic songstress Erykah Badu goes off on "20 Feet Tall (Remix)." Exceptional beats and quality rhymes dominate, with great performances from Blu, Skyzoo, Mac Miller, Tanya Morgan, Holly Weerd, Talib Kweli, and more.