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9th Wonder Dream Merchant Vol. 2

Few hip-hop producers are as committed to soul-record sampling as 9th Wonder. He’s even been criticized by some as being formulaic to a fault. But when it works, it works: Jay-Z, Mary J., and Destiny’s Child have all hired him. 9th’s strength is also his weakness, and Dream Merchant, Vol. 2 is emblematic of that duality. When Merchant lags it’s because a sample isn’t interesting enough, and the resulting production ends up sounding like a simple, repetitive loop (“Shots” and “Baking Soda”). Like many producer albums, the tracks are only as good as their guest MCs. And here, only a few–like “Brooklyn in My Mind,” featuring Mos Def, Jean Grae, and Diverse–stand out.

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