9th WONDER & THE HIP-HOP ACADEMY
Over the past 15-20 years, one of the fastest growing sections in academic discourse is that which hones in on hip-hop as an art form and global cultural force. While various intellectuals have been at the forefront of this movement, few can offer the unique perspective provided by a someone who’s been in the trenches themselves. Enter Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder, who emerged 10 years ago with Little Brother and has since racked up credits for everyone from to Destiny’s Child toErykah Badu to JAY Z. In addition to producer, DJ, A&R and label executive, the North Carolina native also wears another hat: professor. Beginning teaching at North Carolina Central University in 2007, his talents have taken him to Duke and Harvard University, as well, schooling the next generation on the the origin and social importance of hip-hop, its samples and more.
Life+Times caught up with 9th to get his take on hip-hop’s importance in the academy, his experience teaching and more.
Life+Times: Talk about the importance of hip-hop courses in the academy, especially the way you’ve talked about hip-hop before as being misrepresented and misconstrued in the mainstream.
9th Wonder: Well I think that now, we’re at that at that age. Hip-hop is at that age where – they thought that hip-hop wasn’t gonna be around that long, even in the early years and the early ’80s, they thought it was just a fad – it’s used in commercials, it’s used to advertise, it’s used in so many ways, it’s so much a facet of our society now, whether you understand the art form, whether you like it, whatever, if you hear somebody say young people’s music, the next thing they’re gonna say is hip-hop. But they fail to realize that this year is like the 40th year of hip-hop’s existence, so, we’re at that point where it needs to be studied. This is a multi-million dollar business around the globe, you know, so it’s at that point where we have to [teach about it] because now, the generation gap is so wide, and now teachers believe that this is a way that we can communicate with our kids. They put on CNN recently that Nas was the greatest lyricist of all time – not the greatest artist, just the greatest lyricist – and for CNN, a main media network, to say that speaks volumes because now people even in the media ranks are trying to see hip-hop from a more educational and artistic standpoint. See, he wasn’t the greatest selling artist of all-time, but if we’re talking about lyricists – and hip-hop is built so much on lyrics – they picked Nas. So it’s really at that point now because they’re seeing it, like, “Yo, this is an art form that we have to really recognize and we can’t ignore it anymore.” And once they start to do it, you know that it’s really gonna turn into something, now it’s really gonna turn into a study.
Read More: http://lifeandtimes.com/9th-wonder-the-hip-hop-academy