Jay-Z reached out to a number of producers while creating Magna Carta Holy Grail, his 12th studio album. The usual suspects — Timbaland, Pharrell, and Swizz Beats — were there, but a budding 16-year-old producer from Canada, Ebony Oshunrinde, a.k.a. WondaGurl (pictured), also made her mark on the album, according to The Star.com.
WondaGurl produced the track “Crown” on “Holy Grail,” which was released digitally July 4th and in stores Tuesday, but the Brampton native first got in to creating beats after watching a video of Jay-Z and Timbaland in the studio together.
“It inspired me, and I wanted to do the exact same thing that he did,” she said. At age 9, Oshunrinde downloaded music software, teaching herself to use it via YouTube tutorials.
She coined the WondaGurl name by switching the name of fellow Canadian producer Boi-1da (pronounced boy wonda). In 2011, she caught her big break, winning the Battle of the Beatmakers competition. This caught the attention of Boi, who began mentoring WondaGurl at Toronto’s Remix Project Studio.
A year after winning the competition, the musical prodigy signed an exclusive management deal with label Black Box and began working in a studio.
“It’s amazing to see somebody with that much talent working as hard as she can to make the most of it at such a young age,” said Ian Stanger, a representative for Black Box. “It’s her work that people should be paying attention to, not the fact that’s she 16.”
It was a stroke of good fortune that helped her beat get on to Mr. Carter’s latest offering.
After crafting the beat, reworked from a reggae song, WondaGurl sent it to Houston rapper/producer Travis Scott, who happened to be working with Jay-Z at the time. He returned her text a few days later.
“He texted me and said, ‘I’m about to change your life,’” Oshunrinde said. Scott then told her that the beat made the album’s final cut.
“Usually that doesn’t really happen to 16 year olds,” the teen said. But it indeed happened for her. When WondaGurl told her mother the news, she began crying.
While WondaGurl, who just finished the 11th grade, has yet to meet Jay-Z, she recently received her passport and plans on seeing HOVA the next time she ventures to the States.
About her good fortune, WondaGurl said, “It’s a really good feeling. I want to show young people that they can do it.”