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.