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Born Patrick Denard Douthit in Winston-Salem, NC, 9th Wonder is a Grammy Award Winning Producer, DJ, College Lecturer, and Social Activist. Since his introduction to hip-hop in 1982, 9th has been immersed in the music and culture of the art form, while gaining experience in music theory throughout middle and high school. 9th attended North Carolina Central University, where he decided to pursue a career in music. He, along with Phonte Colerman and Thomas Jones (Rapper Big Pooh), formed the hip-hop trio Little Brother in 1998.
9th Wonder began his career as the main producer for the group Little Brother. As part of Little Brother he gained recognition and critical acclaim for his production on their debut 2003 release, The Listening. Jay-Z’s studio engineer Young Guru was impressed with his work, and contacted 9th, which led to 9th Wonder producing “Threat” for Jay-Z’s 2003 The Black Album. This became his first major label placement. The cut proved to be a mainstream breakthrough for 9th Wonder. This followed immediately in the major production role he secured on Destiny’s Child’s 2004 Destiny Fulfilled album that Jay-Z was instrumental in helping bring out at the time. On the album, 9th Wonder produced the tracks “Girl” and “Is She the Reason,” plus the bonus track “Game Over”.
After leaving Little Brother, 9th Wonder went on to start two independent record labels, Jamla and The Academy, under his imprint It’s A Wonderful World Music Group. There, he signed rapper Rapsody under him, helping launch her solo career in 2008. Her first significant career breakthrough came with the release of her mixtape Return of the B-Girl on December 7, 2010. The mixtape marked her first work with legendary hip-hop producer, DJ Premier, and featured guests such as Mac Miller and Big Daddy Kane. Rapsody has landed her next major accolade, with the help from 9th of course. It has been confirmed that Rapsody has signed with Jay Z’s Roc Nation imprint as of mid July this year. In Instagram posts, both Rapsody and her mentor 9th Wonder confirmed the signing. It appears that Rapsody will remain a Jamla Records artist on 9th’s label, with new, extended backing. This also makes the Grammy Award-winning MC (care of K-Dot) the first female rapper on Jay’s Roc Nation.
After 9th’s launch of It’s A Wonderful Work Music Group, there was a sideline move into music academia for 9th Wonder when he was appointed Artist-In-Residence by the Chancellor of North Carolina Central University, and began instructing a hip-hop history class in NCCU’s Music Dept. His role as a music professor has proven an ongoing one. In January 2010, it was announced that 9th Wonder would co-teach a class titled “Sampling Soul” at Duke University. In an interview with HitQuarters, he explained his reasoning into moving towards the academic route: “Educating the youth on where hip-hop comes from and the history of it, using the records we use, gives hip-hop a longer life. I decided to become an advocate of that.”
This same year, filmmaker Kenneth Price documented 9th Wonder’s travels for an entire year. This included his times in the studio, classes he taught at Duke University, and performances with Murs at the 2010 Rock the Bells Festival. This footage was eventually combined into a Research Group-sponsored documentary film titled “The Wonder Year”. Not only does the film include interviews with 9th Wonder about his life and career, it also features appearances by Drake, DJ Premier, DJ Green Lantern, J. Cole, Murs, Lucas Rivers, Sha Money XL, Young Guru, The Alchemist and others.
9th has been incredibly successful, its hard to name every achievement. He has gone on to win a Grammy with Mary J. Blige for her album The Break Through (Good Woman Down), Erykah Badu’s “Honey” and “20 Ft. Tall” on the album New Amerykah 1 and 2, Ludacris’ “Do The Right Thang,” and most recently David Banner on the album Death Of A Popstar. 9th also has 3 albums with MURS, an Emcee that hails from MidCity, CA, in which all three albums have received critical acclaim.
What’s next for 9th Wonder? He is just doing what he does best. When he isn’t producing or making music, he is teaching, educating the future of the music industry as he puts it:
“Hip-Hop is the voice of at least 2 generations. At one time, it was the POSITIVE voice, as stated earlier. Chuck D was the black history teacher I never had, along with countless other black Americans my age. It can be that again, but with the right voices and the right players. As the late Curtis Mayfield said, “We must educate and Well as Entertain.”
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