9th Wonder is one of hip-hop’s most acclaimed and noteworthy producers working today. From Kendrick Lamar’s “DUCKWORTH.” to Mac Miller’s “Rain,” he’s added lots of modern hits to his historic discography from the 2000s. Recently, with that hype in mind, he released the latest installment in his ZION series. ZION VII is a mostly instrumental album, though, filled with classic beats and 9th Wonder’s creative approach to the craft of production.
The North Carolina producer is also a hip-hop history professor, and that appreciation comes through in 9th Wonder’s artistry. Most of the beats on ZION VII would not sound out of place on a classic New York tape. The soul samples are creatively chopped, the drums hit in a crisp and clear way, and it results in great grooves. On ZION VII‘s first third or so, Swank and King Draft float effortlessly over these soundscapes. The Jack Moves, Datsunn, and Jalisa also contribute verse performances to a couple of tracks.
These days, 9th Wonder is building his profile through collaborations and production credits on other albums. Even Doja Cat wants to hit the beat-maker up for a collab. But his ZION series has always been about a wide collection of beats in his vault, and VII delivers on that precedent. After seven tracks, the remaining 23 are raw instrumentals with a pretty varied sonic pallet. Previous albums in the ZION series have been up to 59 tracks long, so VII’s actually on the shorter side.
The track “DontHurtSoul!!!” has a menacing manipulated vocal loop with some echoed and distant drums. Moreover, the soft, spoken word in the sample shows off 9th Wonder’s ear for eeriness and atmosphere on ZION VII. However, other points like “AndYouToo!!!” are much more breezy and melodic by comparison, with its bright keys and groovy percussion. Sometimes the sampling is very clean and straightforward like on “BeSuperStar!!!” Yet the very next song, “AbyssJam!!!”, takes that sample and distorts it with some chops. As such, ZION VII always dives into a new sound with every turn, and 9th Wonder is having a ball on that journey.
You can check out ZION VII on your preferred streaming service and also peep the tracklist for 9th Wonder’s new album below.
- Remain!!! (feat. The Jack Moves, Swank & King Draft)
- I Saw You!!! (feat. Jalisa, Swank & King Draft)
- Waste My Time!!! (feat. Swank & King Draft)
- Lust 4 U!!! (feat. Swank & King Draft)
- All Good!!! (feat. Datsunn, Swank & King Draft)
- The Chase!!! (feat. Swank & King Draft)
- Know I!!! (feat. Swank & King Draft)
- Tried Everything!!!