9th Wonder Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records

De La Soul f/ Spike Lee “Church” (2004)

9th Wonder: “It was very much a surreal experience. When we called ourselves little brothers of Tribe and De La, we really meant that shit. The reason we have skits throughout The Listening is a reflection of that. When Phonte and I were 15 or 16 years old, we didn’t know each other, but we were both somewhere in our rooms listening to De La and Tribe records.

“I think me meeting Jay-Z first kind of killed the bluntness of meeting De La. Because I was thinking, ‘If I’m with Jay-Z now, anything can happen.’ But De La were members of the Native Tongues, which is my bloodline. And it’s seriously in my bloodline now because I’m a member of the Universal Zulu Nation.

”I got to meet Dave, Maseo, and Posdnuos. And they were really on some, ‘9th you’re my man. Can’t nobody ever fucks with you in life.’ You know? That’s a great feeling to have. And the funny thing about it is, we mixed the song ‘Church’ in Baseline because Guru mixed it. And I remember Dru Ha came to Baseline to bring me DAT tapes for the ‘Nightriders (Remix)’ joint I did for Buckshot, which had Aaliyah on it.

“That album had Dilla on it, but I neither met him nor spoke to him. And for that record Spike Lee spoke on it. That would’ve been the first out of two times, Spike spoke on my record.”

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