Earlier this year we told you how producer Patrick Douthit, known in the music industry as 9th Wonder, was working with Harvard University as a fellow at the W.E.B. Dubois Institute.
From Harvard (and from Duke, where 9th teaches) Douthit now is back at his alma mater, North Carolina Central University (NCCU), as a professor of Hip-Hop History.
With a Grammy under his belt and a roster of collaborations with industry icons like Mary J. Blige, Jean Grae, JAY-Z and Beyoncé, Douthit's “History of Hip-Hop” class has been a campus favorite since 2015.
"It’s just a way to reach this generation,” the 41-year-old producer said in an interview with WRAL. "This generation speaks in a certain language that the generations before it did not."
9th said that the time is ripe for a class on hip-hop's history given its age and its breadth.
"Hip-hop is now a 44-year-old art form," 9th said. "Within it is life, is fashion, journalism, it's law, it's definitely technology when it comes to DJing and recording."
Douthit, who was a history major at NCCU, combines his educational background with his professional experience to facilitate deeper discussions around the social and political impact of the genre that has out-paced rock in mainstream popularity.
“It’s not a structured class,” said NCCU student Damon Westray. “It doesn’t just teach you about hip-hop. It teaches you about how hip-hop played a role in things like the bus boycott, segregation, the Black Lives Matter movements.”
Westray, who said he rates the class an “11” on a scale from one to 10, did his final project on hip-hop artist Lil' Kim and her efforts to break barriers for women in the music industry.
Above all, 9th said that hip-hop history is important not just as art history, but as American history.
"Hip-hop speaks on what happens in America. It may speak on a side of America that you may not be privy to, but [that side] needs a voice as well."