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The Formula

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Album Review

The consistent high quality of 9th Wonder's beats is the sort of constant blessing that looks better from afar, or, taking cues from Jay-Z and Erykah Badu, as a sanguine respite from other producers' ideas. Front to back, though, an album of his lushly proficient work can be underwhelming. On The Formula he sounds best at his most sedate, as on "Only for You (Lou)," which drapes a lilting vocal sample over loose keyboard stilts. An album of such exquisite downtempo hip-hop might be something to behold. But even a pillow fight should thwack sometimes, and the 13 tracks here largely refuse to do so, nor do they bounce, bump, nod, shake, or even doze off blunted. "Hold It Down," for example, features typically dexterous but blithe Talib Kweli verses and a whole lot of aimless crooning, neither terribly meaningful nor matched to the other. 9th Wonder seems caught between hip-hop and R&B, unable to commit to either. For his part, Buckshot keeps an affable pace, but topically and tonally he strives to be little more than accompaniment to the beats; his rhymes are so soft-hearted that the harshest diss he gets in to his nebulous haters is "some of your LPs stand for long punishment." The same could not be the said for this entirely listenable affair, but little more could be said for it either.


Born: 15 January 1975 in Winston Salem, NC

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Growing up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the boy who would become producer 9th Wonder, Pat Douthit, performed in the school band and also played keyboards at home. Initially, while a student at North Carolina Central University, Douthit planned on saving his money for the producer's favorite tool, the MPC, but after a friend showed him that he could make the beats he wanted on a computer, he decided to use that instead. In 1998 he met classmates and future bandmates Phonte and Big Pooh, and with...
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The Formula, 9th Wonder
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