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9th Wonder Speaks on Harvard Fellowship, Leaving Music for Academia

Producer 9th Wonder will continue his quest to elevate hip-hop culture’s place in academia this fall when he becomes a fellow in Harvard’s Hip Hop Archive. The sonic mastermind behind Little Brother will spend three years working on a research project at Harvard’s W.E.B. Dubois Institute. He recently told XXL that he one day hopes to leave producing behind for good to focus on academics.

“I’m gonna be there in a fellows program at the Hip Hop archive,” 9th told, “So I’ll be a Harvard fellow for three years.” The North Carolina producer also shared his aspirations to transition completely from the performance side of hip-hop to the educational side.

“I just wanna make a straight transition into academia,” said 9th, who began teaching a class on hip hop history at North Carolina Central University in 2007 and co-taught another on sampling at Duke in 2010. “I understand that performing in hip-hop has a timeline to it. Producers live longer than rappers, that’s for sure, but performing has a timeline to it. And I just wanna be able to extend the life expectancy of hip-hop longer, past the stage or past records.”

9th’s interest in taking hip-hop to academia is shared by MCs like Bun B, who began teaching a course on hip-hop and religion at Rice University in 2011, and author Michael Eric Dyson who began instructing a course on Jay-Z at Georgetown University last fall.

“I think the only way we’ll be able to extend the life expectancy of hip-hop is if we do it in the classroom,” continued 9th on his interest in books over beats. “Higher education is where we can solidify this thing and make it a part of history. And I want to be a part of that before somebody else becomes a part of it and teaches it the wrong way.

9th did not comment on the topic of his research, but did reveal plans to shoot a documentary on his experience. Earlier this week, 9th released Tutankhamen, a 40-track collection of beats that he is selling for $9.99. — Calvin Stovall (@CalvinStovall)

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