Last night, members of the Philadelphia and Penn community learned about hip-hop from one of the masters of the trade.
The Center for Africana Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board brought Grammy Award-winning producer, artist and scholar Patrick Douthit — better known as 9th Wonder — to speak at the Annenberg School about the history of contemporary hip-hop music and its influence on his life.
Douthit first shared how his early exposure to genres such as soul, Motown and gospel sparked his interest in music.
He supplemented this discussion by playing sound clips from pieces that were instrumental to his musical discovery and linking them to the modern evolution of hip-hop.
In addition, Douthit discussed musical sampling, the process by which portions of previously published music are used to produce new works.
He succinctly explained how the music of older generations is coming back in the music he produces for artists such as Jay-Z and Ludacris.
Douthit called himself a “vinyl archaeologist” because of his ability to uncover a piece of music and bridge the gap between generations by reinventing it for new audiences.
Before the lecture, filmmaker Kenneth Price’s 2011 documentary, “The Wonder Year” — which follows a year in the life of Douthit — was screened. Price was in attendance at the screening, and said, “At first, I was just doing this to get my masters degree, but this project has changed my life.”
Price is currently working on a follow-up documentary about Douthit called “The Harvard Fellow,” as Douthit is currently a hip-hop archive fellow at Harvard University.
Since the Africana Studies department is relatively new to campus, its advisory board hopes events like this can foster interest in its undergraduate program.
“I feel as if there exists this underlying anxiety about what a person graduating with an Africana studies degree can do with that degree in the working world,” said College senior Marcel Salas, chair of the Africana Studies UAB.
Through events like these, the UAB intends to rectify this thinking by sharing with Penn and Philadelphia how important Africana studies can be.
“The ultimate goal is to have students who may not have known much about the department get interested enough to check Penn InTouch and enroll in courses in this department,” Salas added.
Overall, students and community members seemed to enjoy Douthit’s lecture.
“It was a really great event,” said College junior and Africana Studies UAB member Liz Massele. “I can’t pick one part as my favorite because I loved the whole thing.”
An earlier version of this article described Douthit as a producer, artist, scholar and rapper. Douthit is not a rapper.
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