by Eric Tullis
Unless you’re an aspiring emcee looking for some quick beats to rhyme over, it might be hard to wrap your dollar bills around any legitimate hip-hop producer’s instrumental releases. Many of us don’t have any use for background boom-bap without vocals, anyway. But in 9th Wonder’s case—where many of his devoted followers pride themselves on collecting all of 9th’s jams, be they popular, unreleased or leaked—he’s now cashing in on an audience that views his work as classic compositions that mark a prestigious era in post-J. Dilla producer adoration.
Earlier this week, 9th released his 40-track beat tape, Tutankhamen, which features several of his classic soul-sampled beats as well as previously unheard ones. The tracklisting reads like a computer-generated printout of generic titles, or a compilation of Twitter hashtags—“HoneyBeeChopSoul,” “JoyJoyJoy,” and “AscensionHaSoul." That could be 9th’s way of encouraging rappers to re-title the jams should they choose to use the beats for their own songs.
You might notice, however, that unlike most of the material that Jamla has released over the years, Tutankhamen isn't free. It comes with a price tag of $9.99. Free doesn’t last forever, and now Jamla Records has shifted its focus from gratis .zip files to a record label with a business model and the potential for its artists to earn a cool penny. Previous instrumental albums from 9th Wonder’s Jamla Records production team, The Soul Council, include Eric G’s Stars & Lights, Ka$h’s The Jamla Files and Khrysis’ more recent, Funkwhatuheard LP.
Between these four beat adventures, there’s a couple of hours of heavy warm-up listening until May 29 , when Jamla emcee Big Remo throws his street-friendly conversation on top of The Soul Council’s newer creations for his sophomore album, Sleepwalkers. If Jamla Records can stay in full-stride, then it’s quite possible that 9th Wonder—as NC’s hip-hop King Tut—can help everyone on his team gild their bottom lines.