In a year where the all-consuming beast that is trap music has swallowed up many a noble rapper, it’s always relieving to know that some have continued to stand their ground. Sure, trap is hardly a detriment to hip-hop music, but there are fewer rappers than ever before who remain stuck firm to the simplistic, ‘boom-bap’ roots of hip-hop nowadays. As Buckshot and 9th Wonder close their new album, The Solution, Buckshot preaches to the audience, saying: “Y’all wanna know what real hip-hop is? Real drums, real fire? Do me a favor: take that Walmart keyboard back to where you got it from and listen to 9th”.
The Solution is the pair’s third collaborative effort, the last one being 2008’s The Formula. Both individuals have been extremely busy since then, with Buckshot collaborating with KRS-One and Sean Price, whilst 9th Wonder released two solo albums and further collaborative efforts with Murs and David Banner.
People know what to expect when it comes to 9th Wonder: straight-up soulful beats with a subtle modern twist, but you might be surprised when you give The Solution a spin for the first time. The opening track “The Big Bang” hits hard with a beat incorporating some fiery guitar lines whilst Buckshot pulls up in a “three-piece suit”. It’s a step back from 9th’s usual carefully chopped-up samples, but it’s just one instrumental on an album that plays host to an extremely varied array of beats, be it the smooth, slowed-down sounds of “The Feeling”, or the rapid guitar-strums of album closer “The Solution”. Needless to say, 9th Wonder slays the majority of his production duties here and shows just why he has remained a constant force in the game for so long.
Buckshot does the same, although not quite as consistently as 9th Wonder. To have released his first album with Black Moon in 1993 and still be sounding as fresh as he did 20 years ago is something that very few rappers can admit to, but some of the lyrics on this album might leave you cringing somewhat; “If you see a red dot on your head that don’t mean you’re Hindu/that mean you’re withdrew” (“What I Gotta Say”) and “This is my life/my L.I.F.E” (“Shorty Left”) are two particular “face-palm” moments. You also have to wonder what lyrics didn’t make it onto the hook for “Shorty Left” when one of the lines that did make it is: “Spread rumors like butter on the bread”.
That being said, Buckshot is still more than capable of writing some great verses. Standout track “Stop Rapping” is a message to the younger generations as he spits from the perspective of a youthful, presumably untalented young rapper trying to make it in the game: “I should have kept my nine-to-five/but hip-hop had me believing I should try”. It comes across as a genuine lesson from master to apprentice, and certainly counters the braggadocio that is rife in modern-day hip-hop. Another standout is “You”, featuring what is arguably 9th Wonder’s best beat on the album and a catchy hook courtesy of Warner Bros. upstart Dyme-A-Duzin. If a track off of The Solution were to light up radio playlists then this would be it.
There’s no denying that 9th steals the show on this album. While Buckshot mostly holds his own, the lyrics definitely take a backseat whilst the beats take their time to soak in the limelight, resulting in a solid album that is conventional yet consistent in it’s output.