Ebony Oshunrinde, beloved by many as the producer Wondagurl, is using her powers to bring vitality and versatility to the industry.
On the 23-year-old’s quest to become a trusted provider of dedication, craftsmanship, and just plain fire beats, the Canada native has won the support and tutelage of fellow beatmaker (and near name purveyor) Boi1da, all while supplying superhuman assists for hip-hop and R&B heavyweights such as Travis Scott (“Antidote”), Rihanna (“BBHMM”), and Jay-Z (“Crown”).
Her latest production work can be found on Don Toliver’s debut studio album, Heaven or Hell, which was released in mid-March and debuted No. 7 on the Billboard 200. She, along with Mike Dean, Sonny Digital, Travis Scott and others, provided various sounds and styles to the 12-song project.
Half of the songs on the LP received Wondagurl’s magic touch from a production standpoint, such as the echo-infused, R&B sprinkled “Candy,” the album’s lo-fi title track, and her personal favorite, “No Photos.” She also holds songwriting credits for six songs, which she described as a long-term goal of hers. “I kinda wanted to start … working on more songs [for full] projects,” she tells Billboard.
Toliver, who initially linked up with Wondagurl while working on the “amazing” Travis Scott’s Astroworld, is described by the producer as someone who is easy to work with. “I don’t really need to know the direction from Don [to make music]. I can kind of just give him beats, and he takes it wherever,” she says regarding the creative chemistry between her and the Houston musician. “Whenever we’re in the studio, whenever we’re around each other and working, it’s just such a vibe … at least one of the songs that we make [when we’re together] comes out really amazing.”
How did Wondagurl get where she’s at today? Her passion for production started around the age of 9, and by age 15, she was already crowned victor in the highly anticipated Battle of the Beat Makers competition, which provided launchpads for producers such as Nineteen85 (“One Dance,” “Hotline Bling”) and T-Minus (“Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “The Motto”). She first entered the competition in 2011, but didn’t see the same results. Yet, she decided to go back in 2012 and be authentic behind her equipment, which has continually proven to be effective during her time in the music industry.
“The first year [at the competition], people were telling me to dance and move, and as soon as I started dancing and moving and getting out of character, I lost — it wasn’t me,” she details. “The next year, I just decided not to move at all, and just be myself. I just let the music speak for itself.”
She notes that some of her favorite producers include Timbaland, Ryan Leslie, Polo Da Don, King Minor, Johnny Juliano, and her mentor Boi-1da, who she thanks for “giving [her] tons of advice” when it comes to making beats, such as “don’t do too much.”
Coupled with her exemplary work ethic, Wondagurl’s in-demand talent continues to take center stage in the music industry. Aside from her ever-growing credits page, she has been nominated for multiple Grammys, was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Music list in 2018, and became one of the youngest women to add production to a platinum selling hip-hop album, thanks to her work on Hov’s 2013 offering, Magna Carta Holy Grail.
While she’s worked with the likes of Mariah Carey, SZA, and Trippie Redd, she says she has aspirations of hearing Beyonce’s inimitable vocals slide on one of her beats.
“If you know what you want to do and you’re passionate about what you’re going to do, you’re going to work hard,” she says in regard to the notion from some that millennials and Generation Z don’t have a strong enough work ethic. “I don’t understand a lot of things the old heads say. … Always just focus on yourself and what you’re doing.”
However, Wondagurl notes that the hustler’s mentality she employs did come with a price. While she was focused on making her dreams come true as a young, aspiring producer, she says her social life suffered. She didn’t have many friends growing up, and she deals with social anxiety as an adult. “I wasn’t outside a lot talking to a lot of people, [I was] mainly just in my room most of the time,” she explains.
Nonetheless, she’s hoping to continue to grow in the industry despite her shyness. Earlier this year, she started her own publishing company, Wonderchild, and continues to scout new talent for her label imprint of the same name.
“I like all kinds of music in general,” she says. “I’m really just looking for stuff that I’m in love with, something that I’m passionate about, anything that’s good music [I want].”