Among the big name collaborators on Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” is a 16-year-old woman from Brampton, ON named Ebony Oshunrinde, who makes beats as WondaGurl and produced Jay-Z’s cocky album track, “Crown.”
When the record soft-launched to Samsung Galaxy users on July 4, WondaGurl’s life changed forever.
“It was crazy,” she says the next day.
“Just people calling me, texting me and tweeting me all the time. My phone was just blowing up.”
A budding beatmaker since she was nine, WondaGurl caught the attention of superstar producer and Drake associate, Boi 1da, who took her under his wing and helped her win the 2012 Battle of the Beatmakers competition. Since then, she has worked on tracks for SonReal & Rich Kidd, Ryan Leslie, and got a big placement on a Travi$ Scott track called “Uptown.”
It was her work on “Uptown” that caught Hov’s ear and he snapped up the hazy, loping trap beat that WondaGurl programmed for “Crown,” which sits alongside production by Scott, The-Dream, Boi 1da, Pharell Williams, Hit-Boy, Mike WiLL, and her first hero, Timbaland, among others.
“I made a beat and sent it to Travi$ Scott and he said he was gonna do some stuff with it,” Oshunrinde recalls. “A few days later he texted me and said he was about to change my life but he wouldn’t tell me what he was talking about. Then he called me and told me I was officially on Jay-Z’s album.”
Oshunrinde says that, as a fan of Jay-Z and the people involved on the record, the placement means a lot to her. She had no real intention when making the beat; she had a sample for Sizzla’s “Solid As A Rock” and applied it to her aesthetic, which she describes as “trap/hip-hop-type beats but, like, hard.”
“A lot of people are making trap and it’s,like a little bit of that with real hip-hop mixed into one beat,” she elaborates.
Has she spent much time listening to the much-discussed production on “Yeezus” by Kanye West? Does she look up to him, as an artist and producer?
“It’s really different; I like it though,” she says. “As a producer yes, but not so much as an artist. I want to work with him, though,” WondaGurl catches herself.
All of this stems from a childhood spent watching YouTube videos of Timbaland working in the studio. In fact, Oshunrinde says her entire musical education derives from watching YouTube and just trying things out on keyboards and computers supplied by her aunt and other family members, who have been very supportive of her dreams (“I want to win a Grammy,” she says in a matter-of-fact way).
That said, WondaGurl has just finished 11th grade and her parents insist that she completes her high-school studies before she makes any really big plans.
“I have to focus on school because if I don’t my mom takes my computer away.”
“Magna Carta Holy Grail” was released July 4, via special promotion, to millions of Samsung Galaxy phone owners for free. Some of them may be vibing to “Crown” right now.
The whole world gets their taste when the album is officially released on Sunday, July 7
Drop da beat, ya’ll ! Just Sayin’