9th Wonder Dream Merchant Vol. 2

[6 Hole; 2007]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: hip-hop, producer music, mixtape
Others: Pete Rock, Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange

What once sounded so vibrant and fresh out of the box on Little Brother’s 2002 debut The Listening has begun to smell a little bit stale. Producer 9th Wonder’s dreamy, throwback sound evoked the jazzy vibes of early ‘90s Tribe and De La Soul, one that portended big things when he started working with the likes of Jay-Z. Despite consistently solid collaborations with Murs and Buckshot, though, 9th has demonstrated a frustrating tendency to move up without moving on.

Not that you won’t find yourself nodding along to any number of the standout tracks on Dream Merchant Vol. 2. 9th still understands the impact of a yearning soul sample placed just so (“Backlash”) or the construction of a bassline built around the ego of its larger-than-life rapper (“The Milky Lowa,” featuring a never-better Camp Lo). But there’s something deflating about the familiar taste of it all. The collaboration with Little Brother’s Phonte and Big Pooh (“No Time to Chill”) cooks up more of The Minstrel Show’s toothless polemic that led to 9th’s departure from the group, and an array of anonymous emcees pop in and out of variously middling beats to drop rhymes ranging from half-hearted braggadocio (“It Ain’t Over”) to inexplicable provocation ("How the black woman the number one catcher of AIDS?/ And we all know that bullshit spreaded from gays, Saigon muses on ‘Saved'"). It all has the air of a warmed-over mixtape, one that doesn’t generate enough heat to get a complacent 9th Wonder out of the kitchen.

1. Mr. Dream Merchant Intro
2. Shots f/Big Dho & Sean Price
3. Merchant Of Dreams f/The EMBASSY, Skyzoo & Torae
4. Brooklyn In My Mind f/ Mos Def, Jean Grae & Memphis Bleek
5. Sunday f/Keisha Shontelle & Chaundon
6. Baking Soda f/Big Treal
7. Reminisce (Take Time) f/Big Remo & The Great Novej of the A.L.L.I.E.S.
8. No Time To Chill f/Little Brother
9. It Aint Over ft. Jozee Mo & Tyler Woods
10. The Last Time f/ Royce the 5′9, Naledge & Vandalyzm
11. Saved f/Saigon & Joe Scudda
12. Milky Lowa ft. Camp Lo
13. Backlash f/Sean Boog & Buckshot
14. Thank You f/ D.O.X & O-Dash
15. Let It Bang f/Ness & Skyzoo
16. What Makes A Man f/Rapper Big Pooh & Buddy Klein

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