This week, I feel like showing some love to the up-and-coming rap genius Wiz Khalifa. Originally hailing from Pittsburgh, the 21-year old Wiz Khalifa has already shared the stage with the likes of Ghostface Killah, Styles P, Lupe Fiasco, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Cham, Little Brother, Clipse, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Lil Scrappy, Mario, T.I., Nas, and Rich Boy. Back in 2008, his hit single “Say Yeah” dropped to critical acclaim. I remember I had that track on repeat for days. Khalifa’s version of “Say Yeah” was even mashed-up in the song “Don’t Stop” off of Feed the Animals by Girl Talk.
For this week’s Mixtape Monday, we’re stepping back in five years time to 2003 for Ninth Wonder’s classic mixtape, called God’s Stepson. Every track on the album is a remix of a corresponding track from “God’s Son,” NaS’ seminal release from 2002.
Fans of MURS might recognize Ninth Wonder’s name, since Ninth produced beats for MURS’ 2004 LP MURS 3:15: The 9th Edition. Ninth Wonder also produced a song on the Viva La Hova mixtape, which (coincidentally) was featured on last week’s Mixtape Monday.
Like a lot of Ninth Wonder’s other releases (like “Freak these Tales,” with MURS) this album contains many samples from classic soul recordings. One of the best stand-alone samples comes at the beginning of “The Cross,” which samples “Beautiful Man of Mine” by Phyllis Hyman. All of Ninth’s samples enhance the original recordings of each song, especially the “Ether” remix, which features an amazing sample from “Hey, What’s That You Say” by Brother to Brother. The original recording of Ether (NaS’ infamous diatribe against Jay-Z) is a great song in its own right, but Ninth Wonder’s sample choice and production really transform it from a energetic battle rap into a much more nuanced assault on Jay-Z’s character and accomplishments. Many of the other tracks perform similar acts of transformation, like the upbeat Thugz Mansion that falls somewhere between the original track and the later acoustic recording from Better Dayz.
Kicking off our new Mixtape Mondays theme is hip-hop’s rising star Wale and his mixtape entitled The Mixtape About Nothing. Wale (pronouced as WAH-lay) is a Washington, D.C. based hip-hop genious who has been compared to such hip-hop greats as Lil’ Wayne and Lupe Fiasco. On The Mixtape About Nothing, Wale samples clips from the sitcom Seinfeld extensively. Track number 6, The Kramer, samples the now infamous Michael Richards Laugh Factory outburst, in which he repeatedly addressed a group of hecklers as “niggers”. Track 8, The Vacation from Ourselves, features Julia Louis-Dreyfus (aka Elaine) saying,