duke university
Glory Road
hip hop
February 29, 2012
More Music

Glory Road: 9th Wonder

How this producer is changing Hip Hop.

Gary: It as a little after midnight, and while most people are sound asleep, Grammy Wward winning producer 9th Wonder is hard at work with his artist Rapsody. 9th is one of the most influential and sought after producers in rap and R&B music.

Rapsody: Yeah. I’ve always wanted to work with 9th.”

Gary: But it is not just his music that has young people hanging on his every sound.

9th Wonder: You’re talking to a guy who didn’t think in a million years he’d be working with Jay Z.

Gary: This is a classroom, but 9th is not a student. He co-teaches the Sampling Soul at Duke University. The experience students have in this Sampling Soul class is that 9th wonder is not just sampling, as someone who is demonstrating things, he is actually teaching also. So, they have the benefit of having two very different people coming at information from two very different perspectives with this common goal of expanding their view of the world.

Sampling is when you take part of one song, and then create a new song out of it. It is a major foundation of hip-hop

9th Wonder: Some of the topics we’ve covered in the Sampling Soul class has been the affects of Marvin Gaye, the affects of James Brown, the effects of geography when it comes to hip hop. Exploring the black diaspora of music from a cultural sense as opposed to just playing music.

Gary: Music is just a small part of the class. Today, they discussed the impact of Jay Z, not as a rapper but as a $450 million entreprenuer.

Student: When I first saw this class during registration period, it looked really interesting. I’m a biomedical engineering student, so most of my classes have been science-based classes and I thought this class would be great exploration.

Gary: And today, they explored hands-on by helping 9th make a beat that could be used for musicians Common or Jill Scott.

Sampling Soul traces the roots of popular hip-hop samples to gain insight into American society at the time, and how it has impacted today’s generation. Music has played a major part in African-American culture, dating back to the days when slaves relayed hidden messages to each other through music. Even the civil rights movement is sometimes viewed through some of soul music’s most popular songs.

For 9th, he is following his second dream.

9th Wonder: I was in school to teach when I was at NC State and NC Central. I was in school to become a teacher. And I loved the art form before I even became a producer.

Gary: Despite the sometimes controversial nature of hiphop, hundreds of classes across the country have been taught on hip hop music and rap artists over the years. And that number is going up.

By exposing the true essence of hip hop, some students say their eyes have been opened wider than their ears.

Student: There was just so much I didn’t know. As much as you can get from different media sources, a lot of it is portrayed — a lot is skewed for entertainment value. To hear Professor Neal talk and 9th wonder talk has been more like an eye opener of sorts.

Gary: And while Duke has a predominately Caucasian campus, this class attracts more than just the hip-hop fans or black students.

“There seems to be this notion that African-American studies is only for African-Americans’ history, and that African-American history is just a black thing, but it’s really American history at its core.”

Gary: One day, 9th hopes his computer will hold just as many lesson plans as it does beats.

9th Wonder: I want this to be my job — to make sure one day there is a PhD in this, one day there is a masters.

Gary: What do you want students to get out of this class?

9th Wonder: We’re not only talking about music, we’re talking about life in the class. This is an entrepreneur class, this is a dreamer class, this is a you can be anything you want to be class.

Gary: Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.


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