What is it that some of you peeps don't like about 9th Wonder. Buck's universal appeal & entry into the Hip hop hall of fame was secured a long time ago. 9th was seemingly headed in the same direction but as usual, once he started to get some major shine some of his former trumpeteers turned on him. Apparently he'd fallen off & his beats were too similar. He was a 1 trick pony that wasn't able to adapt. The Minstrel show couldn't hold a candle to his work on The Listening (really?). When it comes to Hip Hop all the greats have a Formula they follow. Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, Primo, Timbaland, Kanye West, The Neptunes etc. The reason these guys are held in such esteem is beacause 90% of the time when 1 of their beats hits our ears we know it's them. Up to now 9th is no different so why the hate. I've made no secret of the fact that i'm a big 9th fan & I personally feel it's just a case of sour grapes from the supposed 'underground' heads that can longer claim to hold Hip Hops latest best kept secret. Thus his latest project, the 2nd joint outing with Buckshot, The Formula, finally graced my ears. Now, I was rather underwhelmed when the 1st single, No Doubt, reached my ears. But upon hearing the track in amongst the rest of the album i'm feeling it a lot more. As good as it was, I always felt that Chemistry had 9th (Subconciously or otherwise) pandering to Bucks aura. Hence the album had a Beatminerz (ish) feel (that dusty vinyl crackle & pop) to it. The Formula is a more polished affair that is much more of a meeting in the middle between the 2 of them. From the opening 2 tracks, Intro & Ready, you can hear the difference straight away with the former using a chopped kiddie choir sample to good effect while the latter borrows gentle trumpet & vocal samples for Buck to do his thing. And their isn't a moody snare used in either one. It's not until Be Cool that you'll here anything gritty & even then it's broken up by a songstress on the hook (which does the track no harm at all). Then No Doubt kicks in & by the time i've spun it for the 3rd time in a row, i'm a bit embarrased for myself that I wasn't feeling it in the 1st place. The album is a more soulful affair & it could be said that the original appeal of Chemistry is lost in translation. Personally I say The Formula has an appeal entirely seperate from the 1st joint. My fav track on the album, Only For You, is a perfect example. A very simple soulful vocal loop plus the faintest rimshot i've heard on any track plus Buck paying his respects to friends passed & my neck was gone. Another is my 2nd fav, Shinin' Y'all which follows the same approach with a meatier rim shot. Plus M1 Platoon do the reputations no harm with their bars on this track either. An honourable mention has to go to the final track on the album, Man Listen, which uses a emphatic string sample Just Blaze would be proud of. A more cohesive effort than it's predecessor, The Formula is a great addition to what i suspect may be a trilogy or even a quartet (I formally put forward The Catalyst as my vote of a title for the next installment) and a space has already been made for when my copy arrives.
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