North Carolina has always been a wellspring of musical activity, and today three of the state’s top hip-hop acts are all releasing heavily-anticipated solo projects taking the state’s music heritage a step further. The September 27 release-date triumvirate of J. Cole’s Cole World: The Sideline Story, 9th Wonder’s The Wonder Years and Phonte’s Charity Starts at Home has recently been commonly referred to as “NC Hip-Hop Day” and while it’s unlikely that these guys initially planned to drop their albums on the same day, we welcome the happenstance, united front.
J. Cole drops his debut LP Cole World: The Sideline Story a couple of years after becoming the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label. In this Complex magazine, online cover story, music journalist, Damien Scott tells how J. Cole followed his dreams of becoming a Jay-Z-endorsed, successful hip-hop artist from Fayetteville, NC.
Cole World—which is almost, entirely self-produced—should retain all of the scrappy and assertive mojo from his last two mixtapes (The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights) as well as some added, commercial sparkle from having Shawn Carter as a mentor and benefactor.
Mr. Carter joins his protege, J. Cole, on “Mr. Nice Watch”.
Producer 9th Wonder’s relationship with Mr. Carter has also been highly beneficial and The Wonder Years is a testament to the talent, work-ethic, and leadership that 9th has cultivated over the various stages of his career as an original member of the critically-acclaimed rap trio Little Brother, producer for Jay-Z (“Threats”), Grammy Award-winning R&B producer, and now label-head of It’s A Wonderful World Music Group / Jamla Records.
With 9th in classic form, providing soul-fed beats to a lengthy list of hip-hop artists including everyone on his Jamla roster, fellow Justus League members Median and Phonte, and rap-world stars like Fashawn, Tanya Morgan, Murs, Blu, Talib Kweli, and yes…Warren G, you’ll see why he’s one of hip-hop’s modern-day jewels.
9th Wonder Feat. Warren G, Murs & Kendrick Lamar – Enjoy
It’s safe to say that his fans have been wanting this album for the last ten years even though Phonte was never entirely sold on the idea himself. After he and long-time Little Brother bandmate, Rapper Big Pooh decided to close the curtain on their run as a rap duo, Phonte redirected his focus to recording and touring with his Grammy-nominated soul outfit, The Foreign Exchange. However, he never totally stopped rapping, and this album should make the case that he’s always been one of hip-hop’s most highly-skilled emcees as well as a versatile singer/songwriter.
Charity Starts At Home is mostly filled with tunes from NC producers such as Khrysis, Fatin, and E. Jones, not to mention several songs where Phonte and 9th Wonder reunite for their ever-reliable rapper / producer tandem. If you took advantage of the “early bird pre-order” package offered on the +FE website, then you probably already own a physical, autographed CD.
Otherwise, until you make your purchase, this 70-track DJ Flash presents The Best of Phonte mixtape—or as Phonte so eloquently stated via Twitter, “The Phonte mixtape to end all fucking Phonte mixtapes”—should hold you over. Click here to download the mixtape.
As you’ll hear, Phonte’s rap career has consistently been defined by real-talk witticisms, and clear-cut, rhyme exhibitionism. As wiseass, wiseman, and wordsmith he expedites his proficiency at emceeing to an easy listening space where his insight, humor, craftsmanship, and sheer aptitude all combine into a scintillating, openhearted, performance.
Today at noon, both Phonte and 9th Wonder will kick-off the NC Hip-Hop Day celebration with a special “lunchbreak signing” at Schoolkids Records in Raleigh, where the two will also be giving away several pairs of tickets to their joint October 23 show at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC.
Then, later this evening at Kings Barcade, join 9th Wonder and director Kenneth Price for a special screening of The Wonder Year—a documentary chronicling 9th’s ascent toward Grammy-winning producer, college professor, and many other titles. The festivities wrap-up at Five Star Restaurant in Raleigh where Phonte and 9th will host their official album release party.
To RSVP for this party, send your full name to PhonteAnd9thWonder@gmail.com.
HAPPY NC HIP-HOP DAY TO ALL!!!