Columns: "For One Duke University Class, We Did 'Sampling Illmatic'" -9th Wonder

Tuesday, Aug 3, 2010 12:00PM

Written by SOHH for 9th Wonder

The opportunity to teach at Duke really came about from doing a few functions over there in the past with people like Questlove. A professor caught wind of what I was doing and he approached me with the opportunity and I just went for it. The name of the course I taught was called "Hip-Hop Sampling Soul."

Before Duke, I taught at North Carolina Central University and did a straight history hip-hop course. Difference is the course I taught at Duke was that we focused on different aspects of black music so that was the basic difference between the two schools. North Carolina Central University was a Historically Black Institution and Duke is an ACC school so that was really the only difference between teaching at both.

Other than that, it was just a situation of us talking about two different things. It was all hip-hop, but we were just talking about two different things. The classes over at Central were kinda booked up and at Duke it was pretty much booked up too. I never had a classroom with less than a 100 students.

I taught at Central for three straight years and the one at Duke was just one semester and then the next semester that I'll be teaching at Duke will be in the fall of 2011. That'll be the next time I'll be over there. At Central, it was much more of a hip-hop history course like if you never knew anything about hip-hop at all, this was a class you needed to take. And the one at Duke was totally different.

At Duke, the course was more focused on the different aspects involved in hip-hop. It wasn't hard to keep the students' attention. We live in a hip-hop generation and with this particular generation man, this is all they know. Some know R&B too but born in the 70's and growing up in the 80's, hip-hop really came off in the early 80's and didn't really take off until the late 80's, nationwide anyway. So this generation is different, they know hip-hop first before they know anything else. It was never a situation where it was hard to keep them engaged.

For the "Sampling Soul" course, it wasn't a situation where we were actually sampling soul. What we're doing is taking bits and pieces of soul music and observing it for two hours. For one class, we did 'Sampling Illmatic' which means we talked about Illmatic for two hours and then one class we did 'Sampling Michael Jackson' and talked about his life and the music that he made for two hours. It wasn't a situation where we would take something and say, 'OK, they used such and such on the record to make it sound like this,' what we meant was taking a taste test of each section of black music and that's how we did it.

There was grading, class participation and we had final exams and papers and that's how we graded the class. My time at Duke went well and that's why they've asked me to come back.

For the past three years, 9th Wonder has sacrificed his production and music-making to help teach hip-hop history at North Carolina Central University as the school's Artist-In-Residence. This past year, 9th Wonder has taken his skill to the next level by teaching "Sampling Soul" at Duke University. With over a decade of music to his name, 9th Wonder has produced for Jay-Z, De La Soul, Consequence, Memphis Bleek, Boot Camp Clik, Drake, EPMD and more.

Check out footage of 9th Wonder at Duke University below:

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