It feels like WondaGurl has been around for a very long time but the reality is that the producer born Ebony Oshunrinde is still only 24 years old.
After all, she was only 16 when her name rang out internationally for snagging a production credit on Jay-Z’s 2013 album Magna Carta Holy Grail. Locally, she’d served notice the year before, when at 15 she won Toronto’s notoriously competitive Battle of the Beatmakers in 2012, taking on and beating 30 top-notch producers including the likes of established, now-in-demand producers FrancisGotHeat and Sevn Thomas.
Since her Jay-Z break, WondaGurl has gone on to produce for Rihanna, Drake, and Travis Scott, among a host of others, establishing herself as a top-tier producer, but her recent moves indicate that despite being a young veteran, she’s only just getting started.
“I see myself doing almost all the things that I said I wanted to do at this point in my mind,” says WondaGurl from Los Angeles. “Maybe even a little bit earlier than I thought. But yeah, I’ve always said I wanted to just be able to mentor and bring up my own producers, and artists and have my own label.” In addition to making history earlier this year when she became the first Black woman to win producer of the year at the Junos, she has been diversifying and moving into mogul mode.
Creating her own label imprint Wonderchild, under the umbrella of Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack label where she’s been able to mentor and furnish opportunities to producers like Jenius and Forthenight, WondaGurl doubled down on giving back last month when she was announced as one of the mentors in the #YouTubeBlack Voices Music Class of 2022 global program, providing support to artists on the verge of success.
“For me, I don’t even like the spotlight that much. It’s nothing to really share. You know, I don’t really need it. It all depends on what your character is at the end of the day.”
“I mean, Savannah Re, that’s someone that I’ve known for a while now and she’s been working on her craft for so long, so to see her actually doing things right now is like, really, really sick to me. Boi-1da took her under his wing. And she’s just such a talented artist, so I’m glad she’s getting some sort of recognition,” says WondaGurl. “And NorthSideBenji is probably one of the hardest out of Toronto right now. I know Benji’s definitely going to go crazy in the next couple years.”
WondaGurl cites the aforementioned Toronto producer Boi-1da as particular inspiration in lifting as you rise. “The reason why I even wanted to do this in the first place was because of Boi-1da and I really looked up to what he was doing for producers and being a businessman super early, finding a lot of producers. That was just something I wanted to do. Also Hit Boy was doing the same. And of course, Timbaland, but it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. So now it’s the time and I’m kind of like, I want to do other things, but like, make beats everyday too. It’s been cool to start focusing on the business side.”
While WondaGurl’s evolution into being a leader may seem like a natural progression, it wasn’t necessarily easy for someone who is a self-described introvert and it required some adjustments on her end.
“I’ve had to make myself a little bit more outgoing, because this is something that I want to do,” says WondaGurl. “Parts of it have been a challenge. But for the most part, I’ve just been growing up and it is really what it was that made me so shy and such an introvert has been me being so young in the industry, and also just being really nervous. The more I grow, and the more I’m in this industry, I feel a lot better and I just feel a lot more comfortable within myself, you know?”
Despite feeling more comfortable, WondaGurl isn’t resting on her laurels. Diligently continuing to work on her craft, she revels in the opportunity to have complete creative freedom as a producer. She cites connecting with Don Toliver on his debut album Heaven Or Hell, on which she produced six tracks, as an example. “I could just play him anything, you know, because I have a lot of beats that when I play them artists don’t really know what to do with it,” says WondaGurl. “He was so experimental and just down for anything that was just a new flavour.”
She’s also been excited by working with the artists she has signed to her own imprint including Toronto rapper Jugger.
“It was just so much fun to like actually build the sound with him,” she says of the manic, energized rapper. “You know, because it’s my sound and his sound just mixed together. And this was like, so much fun to kind of just do whatever I want.”
The enjoyment of that collaborative spirit extends to working with producers like Forthenight and Jenius, with whom she doesn’t mind occasionally sharing credits or the spotlight. “For me, I don’t even like the spotlight that much. It’s nothing to really share,” says WondaGurl. “You know, I don’t really need it. It all depends on what your character is at the end of the day.” So while musical talent is important and has been instrumental in WondaGurl’s own rise, being involved in seeing others making the same leap is arguably equally as important to her.
“I’m so proud of every single person that I’ve been working with. Just seeing the growth in all of them is incredible,” says WondaGurl. “I’m so ready to see where they end up.”