Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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The Wonder Year

The Wonder Year (9th Wonder) Documentry



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UK release date 08.09.2011

US release date 15.08.2011

Great record producers can constantly keep a wondering eye.

Donât think so? 9th Wonder (nee Patrick Douthit) may have some choice words for you. âDonât go into music looking for a deal. Do the music. The deal will find you.â

The Grammy Award-winning producer, college instructor, musician, public intellectual, DJ and creative genius knows best: now the subject of his own 78 minute epic documentary, The Wonder Year, which was screened at Atlantaâs 595 North on Mon., Aug. 15, 2011.

Originally beginning as director Kenneth Priceâs master thesis, The Wonder Year â also a Lifted Research Group (LRG) - produced feature â chronicles a year (Dec. 2009 to Jan. 2011) in the life of the producer as he offers his insights on production, family, the Internet, hip hop culture, the music business, education, Little Brother (the formation as well as his departure from the group) and his musical career. Unlike most music-based documentaries, The Wonder Year â shot with both a Panasonic HVX and Canon 7D -- doesnât feature any still photographs or slide show montages to tell the story. 9thmatic simply lets us follow him the entire time as he narrates his personal experiences candidly on-screen; his voice ultimately becomes the soundtrack, along with his music, as we see the man of many talents do his thing in and out of the studio.

Originally hailing from Winston-Salem, NC, 9th is in his element for the most part â a down-to-earth student of music (taking his name from a Digable Planets track) who was raised on his parentsâ gospel music, his uncleâs passion for soul music and eventually his immersion into âthe Golden Era of Hip Hop.â A child prodigy and gifted student who mastered seven instruments and could play by ear before he reached high school, The Wonder Year also features a few appearances from those who helped to shape 9th (or Patrickâ¦or Pat) into the man he is today: his mentor Dr. Ernest Wade, The Alchemist, Drake, DJ Premier, Phonte (of Little Brother/Foreign Exchange), Method Man, J. Cole, DJ Green Latern, MURS, Sha Money XL and Young Guru.

There is indeed a method to 9thâs magic, or what he calls âlife music.â 9th says it best -- âItâs not the machine; itâs the man behind the machine.â

Since 1998, 9th has concocted a mélange of sounds based on heavy bass riffs and rugged boom bap snare loops (10 to 15 as he notes on camera) set to a foundation of â60s and â70s soul samples. Be it from his North Carolina dorm room, on his equipment in his own studio â BrightLady -- or behind his FL Studio (sorry, FruityLoops to the rest of you) software on his laptop, 9th has made some of the greatest tracks for some remarkable musical talent: Jay-Z, Destinyâs Child (even Beyonce couldnât believe the music for âGirlâ was made on his laptop), Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, M.O.P., David Banner, Wale and Buckshot just to name a few. Who would ever think that during the recording of Little Brotherâs debut effort, The Listening, that 9thâs speakers didnât pan at all or that he would consider The Minstrel Show some of the most incredible music heâs ever done? What about at the height of his career creating somewhere between 300-400 tracks?

And to think, this one-time history major wanted to be a history professor. Go figure!

Wellâ¦guess 9th lived out all of his dreams, and The Wonder Year is quite the visual indicator of that. There is 9th who cares about the younger generation. Heâs a devoted father who speaks openly on fatherhood and how important it is to be a part of his childrenâs lives. In the classroom, 9th is a professor at Duke University â alongside distinguished scholar Dr. Mark Anthony Neal â who instructs and demonstrates sampling all forms of black music before his students. Even way before these sequences, Patrick is a family man who knows where he comes from â showing the sincerest respect for his older sister and his father. And yes, he does pay his success and blessings forward â creating a new legion of talented artists on his labels, Jamla and Itâs a Wonderful World Music Group.

The Wonder Year is definitely a journey into the mind of one of hip hopâs greatest Renaissance Men. After seeing this classic bit of cinema, youâll no longer wonder about the future of hip hop music and culture.

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Words Christopher Daniel

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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