Cultivating a signature sound of simplistic-soul, 9th Wonder is one of Hop’s studied preservationists. Reared in the Douthit household where faith was revered, family was cherished, and work was championed, 9th’s character was fortified. An insatiable love for the arts ignited as his depth of talent flourished.
That talent manifests as his fingerprints continue to shape the genre and the classroom. He’s served at North Carolina Central University as an Artist-In-Residence, the celebrated Duke University as co-teacher of “Sampling Soul,” and at the esteemed Harvard University as a Hip-Hop fellow in the Hip Hop Archive.
The wizard-behind-the-boards easily imposed his will on some the genres most celebrated albums. Possessing the self-discipline to thrive in the entertainment industry, to impact the future in the classroom, and to love his home-based legacy, his enduring actions constitute why he’s become the world’s latest wonder:
AllHipHop: There’s almost 24 hours in a day. Given that you’re a family man, a Producer, a Record Exec., an Educator, a DJ, and an MC; how are you learning to better balance your time; in what ways does delegating your different professional obligations help with sustaining your personal responsibilities?
9th Wonder: Well, the wonderful thing about all the jobs that I hold—they’re all under the umbrella of music. If I was a plumber, an electrician, a banker—you know, it wouldn’t make sense—but I can keep all mu focus on music and dealing with musical things, you know what I mean. Even my children are so in love with music. When it comes to my family I can still keep a piece of my musical-self. You know, that’s how I keep focus. I don’t have vices; I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. I don’t have a lot of things that take my mind off what I need to be thinking about. So, that’s how I balance it all.
Recently music celebrated with awarding its Grammy awards. According to 9th Wonder, within the last three years, what was the last Hip-hop album that possessed both the production and lyrical content to earn a classic title; what’s your favorite track from the album?
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City! There’s a lot of joints that I like. I like “Compton” that Just Blaze did. Man, I like “B####, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” There’s a lot of joints that I like on there. I like the single, “Swimming Pools.” I like “Sing About Me.” Kendrick is very sincere when it comes to his song-making. He put together a concept album. In this day-in-time concept albums are few-and-far-between. You know, young kids don’t know anything about concept albums. He put together a concept Rap album that you listen to all the way through. So, I’m proud of Kendrick.
You’re quoted as saying, “Educating the youth on where Hip-Hop comes from and the history of it, using the records we use, gives Hip-Hop a longer life. I decided to become an advocate of that.” To date, what aspect of Hip-Hop has become the most important to you?
Now, to me, the most important aspect of Hip-Hop is the preservation of it—the institutionalization of it. Getting it into different universities to make sure it’s being studied from now on. That’s the most important thing to me. You know, I’ve done beats, I’ve rhymed a little—I’ve worked with rappers, I’ve worked with Jay[Z]—I’ve done that.
Now, how can I extend Hip-Hop to have a longer shelf-life? And how can I make sure that we are the ones that’s teaching the culture correctly. So, when it comes to Hip-Hop that’s my biggest project. Right now, at this moment, I want to make sure that it’s studied the right way and taught by the right people.
From your creative efforts what bottom-line-truth do you hope resonates with others?
Just how to be an inspiration—how to be inspired and how to inspire people. Inspiration, it’s a chain reaction. It’s a chain event—something that’s been happening for centuries. It’s been passed down from person, to person, to person—everybody has an inspiration. Whether it be your mom or your dad, whether it be your homies on the block—you always have somebody you look to as a mentor—or somebody that you look to who gears you in a certain direction.
And that’s what I get a lot from people is that I’m somebody’s inspiration. But DJ Premier is also mine, Pete Rock is also mine, the Beatminerz is also my inspiration. My mother is my inspiration, my brother is my inspiration, my kids are my inspiration; so, it’s like you have to take all that inspiration and energy and pass it on to the next person. That’s just how the universe works. It just works like that.
Until the next time, what would you like to share with your supporters?
Support the musicians. Support the people that you wake up listening to every morning and listen to every night. You know, they’re a big part of your life. They always say, the saying goes, “without music would we know each other?”
So, support people who help you know other people. They help create memories for you. Support those people; those are the people who help drive your emotions. When it comes to just feeling good, they help drive everything. If you’re at a cookout, or a party, of if someone is getting married, or whatever—music is always there!