Last week I took the short trip down route 70 into Raleigh with two main objectives, listen to good music and continue to practice taking pictures at live indoor music events. The music was provided by former North Carolina Central alumni and Durham regular 9th Wonder, who was promoting his record label’s new compilation album “Jamla is the Squad.” In addition to being a Grammy winning producer who has worked with Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, David Banner, Buckshot, Wale and more, he also started “It’s a Wonderful World Music Group (IWWMG)” which he holds the position of President and CEO. Jamla Records is his independent record label that falls under the IWWMG umbrella and has become a home for a line-up of talented hip-hop artists. The following words from the IWWMG website explains the labels vision perfectly:
From the gritty down-home sounds of native North Carolina to the classic rhymes and beats that exemplify the best of New York, each artist embodies a unique sound and revolutionary style…..In creating It’s A Wonderful World Music Group, 9th’s vision was to catalyze a movement to restore integrity and positive impact to the hip hop industry. As a social activist, he understands the significance of IWWMG not only as an outlet for fresh and timeless music, but more importantly, as an instrument for the preservation of this generation’s culture.
I respect that hip-hop in 2014 has many different faces and has grown from the artform its was in the 80s and 90s. I accept its commercial value, you can find it in commercials pushing products you would have never imagined years ago. There is gangsta rap, pop rap, country rap, R&B rap, battle rap, rap in many different languages and countries. I respect all aspects and like that the music form is not just contained to a small box anymore, all rappers should not be doing the same thing and they aren’t. The unfortunate and seemingly unfair part is that sometimes the least verbally talented artists get the biggest spotlight and somehow become the representative of a whole genre.
What I loved about the show in Raleigh last week was seeing the ideas from words quoted above that are posted on a IWWMG website manifest itself on stage through MCs that clearly take their craft very seriously. The ability and presence of each of the MCs that patrolled the stage was proof that the words on IWWMG’s website were not just put there to take up space on the web but an actual call to action for those that love hip hop. I respect all of the directions hip hop is moving in, but for those movements to have any value there must be people willing to preserve and promote a resemblance of its original form. I appreciate that 9th Wonder continues to do that and gives extremely talented MCs a vehicle to make albums they believe in and tour the country to speak to their fans through two turntables and a microphone. I left the show at King’s Barcade with a reminder that Hip-Hop is still very much alive but sometimes you have to turn off your radio and go out and support those practicing it in is rawest form.
Find more pictures from the show here
To learn more about 9th Wonder check out the video of the interview I held with him at Tobacco Road last year in Durham, NC.