As a huge R&B lover and longtime hip-hop fan, few producers appeal to me like Patrick Denard Douthit, the 9th Wonder of the music world.
9th has spent decades twisting soul samples and stitching together obscure R&B tracks for his own signature production. Whether it’s softening the rough edges of some of rap’s hardest acts or giving modern-day singers a dose of vintage soul, 9th stands as one of the most reliable producers in the game.
Though he’s had a few mainstream hits – and countless underground gems – he still feels a bit unappreciated in the grand scheme of hip-hop producers. Well, I’m all about giving flowers when our faves are still here to smell them, so lets examine 25 of 9th’s most noteworthy tracks.
Honorable mentions: Little Brother, “We Got Now,” Jean Grae, “Don’t Rush Me,” Little Brother, “One Night Stand,” Masta Ace, “Good Ol’ Love,” Jean Grae, “This World,” Murs, “The Pain,” Lloyd Banks, “One Night Stand,” Memphis Bleek, “Smoke the Pain Away,” Lil B, Jean Grae and Phonte, “Base for Your Face”
25. Consequence featuring Little Brother and Kanye West, “I See Now”
Shout out to 9th for the Bobby Womack sample on this one. Consequence’s career never took off like it should have and this track proved he had the chops to be much bigger.
24. Big K.R.I.T featuring Rapsody, “Guillotine Flow”
One of K.R.I.T.’s most underrated loosies comes courtesy of 9th and his protege Rapsody. The gentle crooning of Shotgun’s “Stone Women” in the background is what makes this one so memorable.
23. Kendrick Lamar, “Duckworth”
You know the kids over at Hip-Hop Twitter would tweet furious death threats if this one didn’t make it on the list somehow. It’s no pity placement though – 9th soundscapes make the perfect backing for Kendrick’s intricate storytelling.
22. Little Brother, “Not Enough”
Yep, there’s going to be a lot of Little Brother on this list, for good reason. Teddy P’s “oooooooohs” from “Easy, Easy, Got to Take It Easy” instantly make this memorable and work surprisingly well against the gritty, yet soulful backdrop.
21. Murs, “LA”
9th’s partnerships with Little Brother and Rapsody get top billing but his work with Murs is just as notable. “LA” boasts a bit more infectious energy than some of the more subdued tracks on this list, thanks to that dope harmonica from The Might Diamonds’ “Atlas.”
20. Buckshot and 9th Wonder, “Slippin”
It’s so easy to get lost in the Cissy Houston sample here. 9th chops up “Love is Holding On” with the skill of a surgeon.
19. 9th Wonder and Marsha Ambrosius, “Peanut Butter and Jelly”
I’m a pretty big Marsha fan, and this one rests near the top of the heap of my favorite tracks. Thank 9th and that Freda Payne sample – it feels like summertime love.
18. David Banner and 9th Wonder featuring Ludacris and Marsha Ambrosius, “Be With You”
If you missed out on David Banner and 9th’s Death of a Popstar collaboration, check it out immediately … immediately after you finish reading this, of course. You can’t help but let your mink drag the floor to these instrumentals.
17. Little Brother, “Shorty on the Lookout”
Blame this placement on nostalgia if you must – this is one of the first 9th tracks I remember truly falling for – but I stand by it. The warm, soulful atmosphere is just so inviting, you can’t help but be uplifted.
16. Drake featuring Phonte and Elzhi, “Think Good Thoughts”
Yes, I’m actually showing Drake love for once, so you members of the Cult of Aubrey can let me breathe now. 9th blessed a young Drake with the legendary Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” – this was guaranteed to be a smash.
15. Rapsody featuring J. Cole, “Sojourner”
One of the most fun things about 9th’s music is spotting his samples. When I first heard “Sojourner,” I nearly threw my phone down. I instantly recognized Kendra Morris’ “If You Didn’t Go,” lowkey one of my favorite songs of the past decade, and immediately fell in love with this beat. It was like 9th raided my old iTunes account to cook up some heat. I couldn’t have been happier.
14. Jay Z, “Threat”
Well, this one certainly lives up to its name. “A Woman’s Threat” by R&B’s Voldemort finds new life thanks to 9th’s brooding production and Jay’s menacing bars.
13. Little Brother featuring Mos Def, “Let It Go”
9th put the pedal to the metal on his potent sample of Third World’s “Got to Get Along,” giving LB and the Mighty Mos all the energy they needed to cut loose.
12. Murs, “Murray’s Revenge”
Bob James’ “Nautilus” has been sampled time and again in hip-hop, but this is easily one of the strongest interpretations. It’s one of Murs’ standout offerings to date.
11. Sean Price, “Heartburn”
P! We’ve lived in a world without Sean Price for nearly six years now and I’m still not over his death. Only 9th could turn the world’s grimest rapper into a (sorta) softy with this vintage love story.
10. Rapsody featuring Musiq Soulchild and Gwen Bunn, “A Rollercoaster Jam Called Love”
A dash of Tony Toni Tone and a sprinkle of Gwen Bunn’s “I’m Yours” are just a few of the ingredients 9th needed to make one of Rapsody’s most unsung tracks.
9. Skyzoo, “The Beautiful Decay”
When I mentioned on Twitter that I’d be working on this, several people hit me up to make sure this one was included – never doubt your boy, this one definitely was landing in the top 10. Always a master of his craft, 9th flips The Sylvers’ “How Love Hurts” into another masterpiece.
8. Rapsody, “Jesus Coming”
“Jesus Coming” probably wouldn’t make most fans’ top 10 lists, but the somber production and Otis G. Johnson’s unsettling wail make this instantly memorable. It’s absolutely haunting in all the best ways.
7. Destiny’s Child, “Is She the Reason”
I’ve called Destiny’s Child’s final album, Destiny Fulfilled, the group’s finest hour. A lot of that praise can be credited toward 9th Wonder’s work on the product, including flipping a 70s Melba Moore track into a 00s-era banger for the ladies of DC.
6. 9th Wonder & Pete Rock featuring Little Brother, “Whatever You Say Remix 1”
OK this is a weird one – this track actually borrows the beat 9th used to remix Nas’ “The Cross” back in 03, which also borrows from Phyllis Hyman’s “Beautiful Man of Mine.” No matter where it originated, it’s some of 9th’s finest work.
5. David Banner and 9th Wonder featuring Heather Victoria, “Slow Down”
“Slow Down” is probably the best track from the Death of a Popstar collaboration, and the second you hear the Whispers sing “I woke up in heaven,” you’ll know exactly why.
4. Destiny’s Child, “Girl”
I’ve said before that this track sounds like the theme song to a UPN sitcom – in all the right ways. The Dramatics sample makes such a glistening, endearing atmosphere, yet another one of DC’s most unappreciated yet appealing tracks.
3. 9th Wonder featuring Terrace Martin, Phonte, Bird & The Midnight Falcons, “One Night”
Once again, 9th makes magic out of multiple ingredients, this time paring Marvin Gaye with a little Marc Sadane. 9th truly is the Dr. Frankenstein of soul beats, and this is one of his most underrated.
2. Erykah Badu, “Honey”
And speaking of underrated, few tracks feel as good as Badu’s “Honey.” From the nods to Minnie Ripperton to the retooling of Nancy Wilson’s “I’m In Love,” “Honey” is a shining standout in Badu’s legendary catalog.
1. Little Brother featuring Joe Scudda and Yahzarah, “Lovin’ It”
How can it be
She wrote her number down, it’s here in front of me
She must have told me a lieeeeeeee I wonder why…
If only y’all knew how much I sing that intro on a daily basis. All it took was 9th breaking down The Stylistics’ “One Night Affair” to create the best song of Little Brother’s career, the greatest beat in 9th Wonder’s incredible portfolio, and, for my money, one of the best-produced tracks in hip-hop history.
What are you favorite 9th Wonder tracks? Which ones should have made the top 25? Let us know below.