9th Wonder is a Grammy award winning producer hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been instrumental in a different brand of hip hop from the south. Starting with his group Little Brother with Phonte and Big Pooh, onto projects with the remainder of the crew Justus League.
Having produced for everyone from Jay-Z to Destiny’s Child to Mary J Blige to Skyzoo and everyone in between over the years 9th Wonder built his own brand and launched his record label Jamla. The roster of artists reflects 9th’s vision of hip-hop with a diverse production team and line of rappers.
Jamla’s producers The Soul Council consist of 9th himself, Nottz, Khrysis, Erig G, Amp, Ka$h, Fatin and E.Jones. This team all vary in strengths to their production largely sampled based but flipped in different ways they all provide a soul soaked sound and aim to recreate the good feeling that came from hip hop in the 90s. That’s not to say musically its 90’s music as they are still forward thinking but it definitely feels like the Golden Era at times with Jamla.
Artists wise we have GQ, Rapsody, Big Remo, Heather Victoria, HaLo, TP, Actual Proof, Add-2 and The Away Team. The bulk of the artists signed hail from North Carolina like 9th himself while others such as GQ (Oakland), Add-2 (Chicago) are from other areas bringing a different influence to the Jamla sound.
Now all of the above artists have put out some good projects on Jamla, in my opinion HaLo definitely had some great songs over The Soul Council production, Actual Proof’s debut album was pretty solid, Heather Victoria released an actual RnB album in this climate of Trap rap/rnb, while Big Remo and The Away Team have been grinding away for a while with numerous projects and features.
At this moment I want to focus on what are probably Jamla’s premier rappers at this time starting with Rapsody. Rapsody started out as a member of NC group Kooley High, 9th Wonder fans should be familiar as the artist with verses on interludes throughout 9th’s Dream Merchant 2 album.
From there Rapsody released 3 projects Return of the B-Girl, Thank H.E.R Now and For Everything before releasing her debut album The Idea Of Beautiful in 2012. Throughout these years Rapsody built a massive buzz largely on social media due to the “Jamla Army” fans and off the consistency of her releases.
Rap went on to release 2 more projects and then in the last year be featured on Kendrick Lamars To Pimp a Butterfly album and now be photographed in the studio with the illusive Dr Dre. Although this has been over 5 years its nothing less than a phenomenal rise for an artist from the NC underground picked out by 9th Wonder. The next project to come from Rapsody should be very interesting indeed.
Now the second artist I wanted to really focus on is Chicago rapper Add-2, you may recognise from the slew of mixtapes he released between 2005 and 2013 before signing to Jamla records. This is where he got together with Khrysis to put out “Between heaven and hell”
This project encompassed a varied style of production from Khrysis and lets Add-2 flex his lyrical muscles. It was a first introduction of Add-2 to the Jamla army and the masses. He started building a real buzz and signaled his intentions to be one of the best early on.
But fast forward to 2015 and Add-2 released “Prey for the poor” mainly produced by Khrysis with additional production from Nottz, 9th Wonder, Amp and Kash, fellow Jamla/Soul Council members. I can’t big this project up enough; its a very cohesive album that sets the bar high for lyrics and production.
Personal favourites are “Don’t Go” which flips the intro to Faith Evans “Soon As I Get Home” and “Kool-Aid” but the album doesn’t have anything skip worthy in my opinion. I’d like to think this will be a real breakthrough for Add-2 and am eagerly awaiting whatever comes next.
In conclusion anything on Jamla is definitely worth a listen and you should keep an eye out for future projects from them.
Ramblings of a music fan