After several years in the shadows of some of Hip Hop’s most respected rhymers, singer/songwriter/producer Tyler Woods is finally getting a well-deserved spotlight on his still burgeoning career, thanks in large part to super-producer 9th Wonder.
“9th Wonder, first of all, is a really good brother,” said Tyler to HipHopDX last week. “And we all reside in the same place, which is North Carolina. And we came up at the [historically] black universities. [A few years ago] I actually was doing a song with Camp Lo and [9th’s people] called – [Camp Lo and I] did a song prior to that [one] called ‘Gotcha’ [back in 2005] – and [9th’s people] were like, ‘Yooo,’ and 9th asked, ‘Who is this guy? What’s up with Tyler Woods?’ And [so] they called me, I came down to Durham – shout out to bull city, shout out to Raleigh…Raleighwood [is] what we call it. And [I] went in the studio [with 9th] and it was history. We did a song called ‘Only Knew,’ which is the first song we ever did together, and [which is] featuring Styles P…”
Tyler subsequently signed to 9th Wonder’s Jamla Records (also home to Brooklyn spitter Skyzoo) and surfaced on 9th’s 2007 compilation release, The Dream Merchant Vol. 2, (on the Jozeemo led “It Ain’t Over”). The Raleigh, North Carolina native has since made notable appearances on Murs’ “Love And Appreciate II,” (the 9th produced track from 2008’s Murs For President), as well as on 9th and Buckshot’s most recent collabo LP, The Formula, (for the project’s Talib Kweli-assisted second single, “Hold It Down”). The Ski Beatz-remixed version of the aforementioned “Gotcha” featuring Tyler also surfaced formally last year on Camp Lo’s Stone And Rob: Caught On Tape.
While some Hip Hop heads view 9th Wonder strictly within the context of Soul-driven boom-bap Hip Hop creations, the former producer/deejay third of Little Brother has previously produced standout soundscapes for songbirds Destiny’s Child (“Girl”), Mary J. Blige (“Good Woman Down”) and Erykah Badu (“Honey”). And with Tyler Woods, 9th continues displaying his knack for crafting soulful R&B gems like “Prove Myself,” which showcases Tyler’s modern day Al Green steez over a stellar remake of The Sylvers classic Soul-Funk jam.
Tyler is not a singer who simply relies on the creations of a talented producer to get over though, as the songwriter and arranger is putting in plenty of work as 9th’s musical right-hand man.
“Right now I’m also writing and arranging for [Jamla Records],” Tyler noted to DX. “So [9th and I] basically work hand-in-hand. We like brothers.”
The multi-instrumentalist is also now branching out to create music for artists outside of the Jamla camp. Sharing the same manager as Styles P, Tyler was recently connected to The Ghost while Pinero was constructing his latest street album, The Ghost Dub-Dime (due May 18th). The first product of that unification is the first single from Dub-Dime, “That Street Life” , which showcases Tyler’s piano skills and soulful vocals.
“[Styles P] is [one of] my own personal favorites, but also a Hip Hop legend and a Hip Hop hero [of mine],” said Tyler of The Ghost.
In addition to his appearance on The Ghost Dub-Dime, Tyler will also surface on a few more Styles joints from the soundtrack accompanying Pinero’s first foray into the literary world, Invincible. Both the book and soundtrack will be released on June 1st, with the soundtrack available exclusively at StylesP.net.
Apparently a genuine fan of The L.O.X., Tyler also recently worked with Styles’ rhymin’ co-d Sheek Louch for “Hello,” which was featured on Tyler’s holiday EP released last December, Christmas In The Woods.
The first song that Tyler ever recorded with 9th Wonder, the aforementioned Styles P featured track, “Only Knew,” was also formally released last fall on Tyler’s mixtape The R&B Sensation. A great introduction for anyone unfamiliar with Tyler’s talents, the project, (released via 9th Wonder’s new union with 101 Distribution), includes the aforementioned “Prove Myself” as well as another Soul-Funk standout, “Slow Jams” (the video for which includes a hilarious House Party-inspired cameo from North Carolina transplant Play of Kid ‘N Play).
The R&B Sensation is just an appetizer though to Tyler’s currently untitled Jamla Records debut.
“With 9th, we probably 60 songs deep right now [into my album],” revealed Tyler of the project’s progress so far.
And while 9th will obviously helm the boards for a majority of Tyler’s debut album, the Chocolate Boy Wonder will also be lending his production skills to the cause of making Tyler Woods a household name.
“Pete Rock came for a tribute concert show [for Pete Rock and DJ Premier] we did in North Carolina, and I got a chance to meet him and he was like, ‘Yo man, you’re dope.’ A couple days later he sent me some stuff,” explained Tyler of how he secured some heat from Pete for his debut.
The other legendary beatmaker being paid tribute at that show, DJ Premier, was also wooed by Tyler’s talent
“I did [D’Angelo’s Premo-produced] ‘Devil’s Pie’ and some other songs, and he was just like, ‘Wow, the kid’s dope,’” recalled Tyler. “And obviously DJ Premier is one of [9th’s] mentors… I’m looking forward to him blessing me with some stuff [and] we already made the commitment [to work together] so we gonna definitely make it happen.”
With production assistance from the likes of 9th Wonder, DJ Premier and Pete Rock, one can’t help but wonder if Tyler Woods considers himself to be a “boom-bap singer”?
“Not so much,” he replied humbly but honestly when asked. “I do a lot of ballads too. And I play the piano and the guitar myself, and other instruments. But obviously when you have a 9th Wonder or a Premier or a Pete Rock your first thing is not to say let me produce something. You gotta fall back and let these guys do what they know how to do, a long time before you did it. But I definitely wanna throw some ballads of my own [on the album], and something for the ladies as well. I definitely wanna be another person that represents for Hip Hop, but I also obviously wanna do something for the ladies.”
And although Tyler’s formal introduction to the masses will not be a strictly hardcore Hip Hop affair, the collaboration of Tyler and 9th Wonder is sure to satisfy fans of both Hip Hop and R&B alike.
“I look up to him,” said Tyler of 9th. “He’s a real good brother to have [by my side].”