20 June 2012

Hip-Hop History X

9th Wonder and Kenneth Price have reached the goal to make The Harvard Fellow documentary!



Have you ever studied Hip-Hop? I’ve written essays and papers throughout my academic career..sometimes the papers were solely to enrich myself more in the culture/history of Hip-Hop (and of course to get a grade for it). Other times they were argumentative essays that tackle the false perception of Hip-Hop as being a genre that promotes misogyny, materialism and violence (another “m” word woulda been nice..murder maybe?).  It always felt like a great accomplishment to have teachers/professors tell me that my papers gave them insight that contradicted their prior opinions/assumptions on the culture. But as big as these victories were..the stages were always small.

The stage is now bigger than ever and 9th Wonder is about to take Hip-Hop to another level. Hip-Hop has grown in the past 40ish years..we’ve dominated mainstream radio, internet, fashion, movies/TV  and even politics. A place where we still have little recognition is the academic world..but 9th Wonder is setting himself up to add to the credentials of Hip-Hop as being academically relevant. Not only is 9th a professor at Duke University..but he was asked by Harvard University to teach and complete an academic research project (a 3 year fellowship) that will be placed in the Harvard Library once completed. He was chosen by Dr. Marcy Morgan and Henry Luis Gates to add to the Hip-Hop archives located in the W.E.B Du Bois Institute for African and African American Studies. To have someone of 9th Wonder’s status at an Ivy League school studying/researching Hip-Hop says a lot already. He will be researching the original records that created his top 10 produced albums..which will include: Illmatic, The Chronic, Reasonable Doubt, The Minstrel Show, Midnight Marauders, Supreme Clientele, Fantastic Volume II, College Dropout, The Blueprint and Only Build 4 Cuban Linx. 9th will embark on this journey that will be documented by Kenneth Price (director of The Wonder Year) and archived for the world to see.

As stated before..we grown. Hip-Hop‘s is no longer that young dude with 5 chains and pants down to their knee caps. The 5XL Polo and extra baggy size 38 (if you’re a 32) Rocawear jeans are gone (I do realize it is more of an age thing..there are a few kids in “the hood” that still hold on to this style..but I know for damn sure I aint going to see a 30+ dude with pants off his ass and a white tee down to his shins at a happy hour). Our image is a representation of where we are now. The evolution of our fashion is now less “thug” and more “hipster/GQ”. Nas, Outkast, Snoop, Eminem, Common, Cube, Wu-Tang, Jay-Z and 9th Wonder are all grown. Some are family men..some are business men..all are a more mature versions of their 20 year old selves. It is now cool to be educated..Penn State over state pen. Hip-Hop is no longer the sole “way out” for a high school dropout turned dealer. We are seeing a wave of new MCs that are extremely educated and are not depending on Hip-Hop to be there ticket to move on up.

This article is about our history..it is to shed light on what 9th Wonder is about to accomplish..but at the core this article is about education. Looking from the outside in..we are not educated. Our “image” has been met with resistance and fear. We have been protested against and have had countless articles written about the negative effect that Hip-Hop has on the community. Our greatest mistake would be not take advantage of the change in the air. “It’s the white man keeping us down.” No..we are grown..no one can keep us down. Yes the false perception (and exploitation) of Hip-Hop does primarily come from the “white man”. But their negative opinion based on a false assumption is also a sign of ignorance..it is a sign of their lack of education of our culture. Ignorance can’t be conquered with ignorance/immaturity. If you are in your 30s and act/dress like you are 18-20 then people in your age group will say..”So…..yeah…..we can’t kick it no more in public.” You should have a career..maybe a family..and out your mama’s crib or at least be making moves to do so. We are established..we are educated..we are making moves that we couldn’t before. 9th Wonder is adding one more level to the complex and intricate nature of our culture. I’m not saying all Hip-Hop needs to be bow ties and 3 piece suits (if I’m at the club with my girl..give me that club banger)..but we need to make sure that we preserve the foundation that makes Hip-Hop great. It’s time to reintroduce ourselves.

Check out the site for more info - http://www.theharvardfellow.com/



  1. This is a great article. I love when you said, "Ignorance can’t be conquered with ignorance/immaturity." That is so true. Not every black male understands the concept of the new artist that are up and coming and would rather listen to those artists that exploit ignorance and embrace it. I know people from back home (Detroit/Inkster, MI), are starting to realize the importance of school and actual success and are making real efforts to do it the way civil rights leaders wanted it to be. Great article, but of course it is because it's on BITM!

    -Ra'z Al Ghoul

    1. thanks homey. def think its time for hip-hop to reclaim its message of being a voice of the people..not just to regurgitate whats hot/pop. i really thought i woulda had some quotes in this article...so here are 2 i think work:

      "Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop"

      "Rappers spit rhymes that are mostly illegal/
      Emcees spit rhymes to uplift their people"