Terrace Martin, 9th Wonder, Robert Glasper, and Kamasi Washington have come together to form a new supergroup. They blessed the world with their 7-song debut album, called Dinner Party, this past Friday. In collective form, the group is musical royalty: an elite roster made up of musicians who continue to thrive at the creative forefronts of their respective genres. Speaking of genres – it’s not very productive categorizing these guys that way. Is the new Dinner Party album Neo soul? Neo jazz? R&B/soul? Jazz-infused R&B with hip hop-style beats and sampling? It doesn’t really matter. It’s more worthwhile to appreciate how their unified voice is influencing (and will continue to influence) all genres within their orbit.
Kendrick Lamar’s recent masterpiece, To Pimp a Butterfly, weaves a thread that connects the members behind Dinner Party, providing an example of how their collaboration has overlapped in the past. A glimpse into TPAB’s credits reveals just how prominent (and wide-ranging) these artists’ musical influence was on crafting one of the best hip hop albums of all time. Terrace Martin was one of the leading producers on TPAB; he’s credited in one form or another on all its songs. His contributions include alto saxophone and other horns, keyboards, string arrangements, vocoder, and general production. Robert Glasper played piano and keyboards on 5 tracks. Kamasi Washington played tenor saxophone on the fantastically jarring ‘U’ and provided additional string arrangements on the album. 9th Wonder isn’t officially credited on the album, but apparently he helped Lamar recruit Rapsody for the song Complexion. (And then of course there’s his beat for Duckworth on DAMN, which we’ll talk about below).
We’d be remiss not to mention Phoelix, who sings the beautiful melodies on the Dinner Party album. Previously, the Chicago native has appeared on albums from the region’s rising stars: Noname’s Telefone album, which we wrote about back in 2016, and Saba’s Bucket List Project.
With that being said, we wanted to put together brief introductions to the group’s members as a resource to accompany the new Dinner Party album. Scroll to the bottom to see our playlist ‘Dinner Party Roster,’ which is loaded with great songs from each of these artists.
9th Wonder’s soulful production has been a pillar of undergound hip hop for the past 15 years. He first made a name for himself as the producer for the North Carolina hip hop group Little Brother. On Little Brother’s first couple albums, 9th Wonder showcased his signature sample-heavy production style, which drew influence from groups like Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.
Since splitting from Little Brother in 2007, 9th Wonder has released an enormous catalog of individual instrumentals, contributed beats to a myriad of artists (Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, etc.) and produced entire albums for the likes of Talib Kweli, Murs, Wale, and Jean Grae.
Recently, 9th Wonder made a lot of noise for producing Duckworth on Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer-winning album DAMN. His beat on Duckworth could easily be the best on the album. It combines 3 separate beats that alternate throughout the song, creating one of the best beat switches rap has ever seen.
Robert Glasper is a Grammy award-winning jazz pianist, record producer, and frontman of the Robert Glasper Experiment. The Texas native has lived at the intersection of jazz, soul, and hip hop ever since his 2012 album Black Radio, which featured the likes of Yasiin Bey, Lupe Fiasco, and Bilal. This was the first album released by the Robert Glasper Experiment, and it was home to Glasper’s most popular song Afro Blue, featuring Erykah Badu. The song was later remixed by 9th Wonder, and Phonte (from Little Brother) lent a new guest verse.
In 2016, Robert Glasper released Everything’s Beautiful, where he re-imagined music from Miles Davis’s catalog. Using Davis’s music as the foundation, Glasper continued crafting his own version of neo soul and neo hip hop, recruiting premier R&B and hip hop artists such as Erykah Badu, Bilal, and Phonte – as well as more experimental acts such as the Australian quartet Hiatus Kaiyote.
After a slew of successful albums collaborating with proven artists, Glasper’s most recent offering, Fuck Yo Feelings, features many up-and-coming acts like Mick Jenkins, YBN Cordae, and Denzel Curry.
Kamasi Washington is an LA musician who makes contemporary jazz music that is as ambitious as it is epic. A multi-instrumentalist who is best known for his tenor saxophone-playing, he came onto the seen with his first (appropriately-titled) album released through Brainfeeder: The Epic. The album, or epic, clocks in at 2 hours and 53 minutes over three parts.
Since The Epic’s release in 2015, Washington has stayed busy: releasing another album, Heaven & Hell that runs well over 2 hours; collaborating with the likes of Thundercat, Flying Lotus, and Run the Jewels; and most recently composing the music for Michelle Obama’s Becoming documentary on Netflix.
Terrace Martin’s name is usually associated with big West Coast hip hop acts like Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, YG, and Kurupt: and for good reason. Despite not achieving major commercial success with his solo albums, Martin’s talents as a multi-instrumentalist have been in consistent demand from the LA hip hop scene for over 15 years.
From an early age, Martin proved to be a prolific jazz musician, eventually becoming most known for his piano and saxophone skills. He began to gain popularity and recognition after incorporating jazz elements and compositions into hip hop production. As we’ve already mentioned, one of Martin’s crowning achievements thus far has been the role he played in the production of Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly, where he contributed across the entire album. He also played an instrumental role in Kendrick’s Untitled Unmastered.
The new Dinner Party album was released through Terrace Martin’s new record label, Sounds of Crenshaw, named after the LA neighborhood he’s from. The site for the label lays out Martin’s discography, where you can see a curation of all the projects he’s worked on.