9th Wonder On The Everlasting Marriage Of Hip-Hop And Sampling
R&B's roots in hip-hop are firmly planted in sampling, the Grammy-winning producer explains to VIBE.
Third time seemed to be the charm for D’USSE's Re-Mixer Series. As a multitude of guests arrived in Los Angeles for Grammy festivities this month, music and spirit enthusiasts settled in at Hollywood's Beauty & Essex to enjoy lessons in music and sampling by legendary producer 9th Wonder.
The third annual D’USSE Re-Mixer Series brought out those curious about the cognac's spirited cocktails along with those who were ready to hear the sounds of DJ Oliva Dope. In addition to 9th's presence at the mixer, fellow music and DUSSE lovers like Memphis Bleek, Rapsody, Insecure's Sarunas J. Jackson and Bacardi Senior Portfolio ambassador Colin Asare-Appiah were also ready to show off their cocktail making skills.
But there wasn't just D'USSE cocktails to indulge. Guests enjoyed rich lessons on the importance of R&B's marriage to hip-hop. While today's resurgence with artists like SZA, Ella Mai, H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar have brought emphasis back to the nayhooos of it all, early tunes remind us that hip-hop's skeleton carries plenty of soul.
Chic's "Good Times" provided weight for The Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," DeBarge's "A Dream" gave reflection for 2Pac's "I Ain't Mad At Cha" and James Brown's "Funky Drummer" allowed us all to lay back and enjoy Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg's "Let Me Ride."
R&B sampling continues today in nearly every chart-topping hit. Donny Hathaway's 1972 track "Jealous Guy" gives power to Chance The Rapper's "Juice," Beyonce's '03 tune "Me Myself and I" loops lovingly on Meek Mill's "24/7" with Ella Mai and The O'Jays' 1972 single "Backstabbers" spruced up Drake's "Fake Love."
As 9th Wonder shared the beauty of notable samples as guests like R&B songwriting legend Brian Michael Cox popped in to teach scratching methods to aspiring DJs, the relationship between hip-hop and R&B seemed to be stronger than ever.
"I think we need that," 9th shares with VIBE about today's balance and the current popularity boost in R&B. "I'm a historian by nature so I watch trends and I watch culture. Everything repeats itself whether we're talking about fashion and especially music. When I was 20 years old, D'Angelo was my version of something 20 years before that which was Marvin Gaye and Stevie [Wonder]."
Today, 9th praised artists like BJ The Chicago Kid and H.E.R., who took home two Grammys for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance for "Best Part" with Daniel Caesar, for providing more than just trusty falsettos.
"I think with H.E.R., Ella Mai, Daniel Caesar, Anderson .Paak and BJ The Chicago Kid and a myriad of other R&B artists who are budding believe in the music and believe in the feeling," he explains. "That's another resurgence that happened in the 90s but everything runs in cycles, history repeats itself and nothing is new under the sun."
D'USSE's relationship to music is also something worth noting 9th says. "I think spirits in a way make you euphoric and there are moments in hip-hop that make you feel euphoric too," he says. "Sometimes, your favorite song can be just as important as your favorite drink. When you're dealing with drinks and music, you're dealing with the five senses and how they go together. They also rely on each other too. You can't have one without the other."
With D'USSE's cognac carrying classic notes and grape varieties, 9th views its relationship to the music just the same with classic sounds from legends like Teddy Pendergrass and The O'Jays.
"If I were to have any soundtrack or label that's dedicated to D'USSE cognac, it would be Philadelphia's Gambling Cuff, all the Teddy Pendergrass, The O'Jays 'For The Love of Money' and 'Backstabbers,' 'Love TKO,' 'Turn Off The Lights/ Close The Door,' he listed. "All of those are really smooth, really cool. That's the kind of music that matches the drink."
One can only hope the gems gleamed through any buzzed feelings the cocktails brought forth. If so, it's a lesson in music worth remembering. "A lot of people don't know the history of drinks like that and a lot of people don't know the history of sampling like that either," the producer says. "Bartending [and making spirits] is their passion, music is mine. We just have to make sure people realize it's paramount to everything."