At 21 years old, hip-hop producer WondaGurl has already proven that she can’t be pinned down. Over the course of the last five years, the Toronto-based artist, born Ebony Oshunrinde, has made beats for everyone from Jay-Z and Drake to Rihanna and Lil Yachty. Across her seemingly endless stream of projects, she’s demonstrated a chameleon-like mastery of her craft. She helped mastermind the Lee Fields & The Expressions clip in Travis Scott’s hit “Antidote,” and helped Kanye West create the pummeling percussion behind Big Sean’s “All Your Fault.”
“I don’t really know what to call my style,” she says. “I just like my drums hard, and I use a lot of samples.”
Though she is reluctant to put a name to her sound, Oshunrinde’s sonic footprint is undeniable. In the last few years, she’s helped inject Toronto’s predictably dark hip-hop scene with a vibe that’s both upbeat and hard-hitting, thanks to a roster of eclectic influences that include everyone from Boi-1da, Jai Paul, and James Blake to Kanye, Arca, and Oneohtrix Point Never.
Oshunrinde’s interest in making beats first started when she was only 9 years old, after she saw a clip of Timbaland in the studio. “I was just amazed,” she remembers. “I was like, ‘I wanna do what Timbaland does.’” At 10, she went to work, using her family’s computer and YouTube tutorials to guide her beat-making journey. By 11, she started uploading beats to YouTube. She was 16 when she won her first beat battle and linked up with then–rapper on the rise Travis Scott. Not long after, Scott showed her stuff to Jay-Z, who then co-opted a WondaGurl beat for his 2013 album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.
By the time Oshunrinde had graduated high school, she had officially ascended the ranks of major-label hip-hop. Less than a year later, she coproduced two tracks on Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and helped rework Rihanna’s hook-heavy “Bitch Better Have My Money” into a bona fide summer anthem. She also joined forces with fellow Toronto producer Eestbound, and together the pair helped rewrite their city’s signature sound.
That relentless drive has yet to subside, and in the last two years alone, she’s produced tracks for Bryson Tiller, Big Sean, Lil Uzi Vert, and Rich the Kid. She also became a hero in her hometown scene through her work with artists like Toronto native Killy. Unlike many of her contemporaries, though, Oshunrinde isn’t all that interested in the spotlight. A self-proclaimed shy kid, she says she’s always preferred working alone to being in a group, and she’s much more at home in the studio than at a red-carpet event.
Still, collaboration is a huge part of what Oshunrinde does best. She chooses to work with people based on their talent and “how seriously they take their craft,” and advises anyone who wants to get into the beat game to “just stay humble and stay working.” When asked what she’d change about the music industry, Oshunrinde is quick to acknowledge what people have been pointing out to her since she first started putting her beats online under the description “I’m not a guy I’m a girl” back in 2010. “I want to bring more female producers into the game,” she laments. “But I feel like that’s starting to change now.”