Published on April 18th, 2017 | by John Magee0
9th Wonder Speaks at FSC
9th Wonder is a hip-hop producer, rapper, DJ, and lecturer. He recently came to speak to students at Florida Southern College.
Wonder’s lecture began with his own introduction to the world of music. He talked about how his parents were very religious so most of the music he listened to growing up was gospel music.
9th Wonder then mentioned that his mother’s favorite artist was Sam Cooke. Wonder then played Cooke’s song “What a Wonderful World”. Wonder often played short parts of the songs he talked about in his lecture.
After listening to only gospel music for his childhood, Wonder got introduced to funk and soul music by his older brother, and from there he discovered hip-hop.
“This was the moment in time I found out this was me,” Wonder said. “It was different from what my parents and my brother were listening to–it was mine.”
After talking about his own experiences with hip-hop, Wonder transitioned into talking about the origins of hip-hop. Wonder talked about how DJ Jazzy Jeff was the first DJ to be more important than the rapper.
Wonder also talked about hip-hop songs with messages, using “The Message” a song by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to show how anyone can relate to hip-hop.
“‘Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge’ How can you not relate to that?” Wonder said. “That’s college.”
After talking about the message of hip-hop, Wonder showed people how MTV was able to spread that message by making music widely accessible.
“Whether you were black, white, brown whatever your race or creed you were listening to this music,” Wonder said. “I was listening to the same music as some kid in Idaho.”
From here, Wonder got into the “music DNA” of songs, and how many modern hip-hop songs will sample from older songs. Sampling is where an artist will use the same beat or lyrics or even recording of an earlier song and use it in an original way for their own song.
To show off how old songs can still have an influence on modern music, Wonder started with T-La Rock’s 1984 song “It’s yours.” In 1997 Wu Tang Clan released a song called “It’s Yourz” which sampled from T-La Rock’s song, and in 2013 Drake released a song called “Wu-Tang Forever” which mentioned Wu Tang Clan’s song “It’s Yourz”.
Wonder also talked about how hip hop taught him about black history, saying that Chuck D was his first black history teacher. He also talked about the importance of shows like “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World” in giving children of color role models to look up to.
Wonder ended his lecture by talking about a research project he is embarking on about tracing the “musical DNA” of over 200 rap albums, by looking at every previous work that influences a hip hop artist’s album.
After the lecture, there was a question and answer segment where one student asked Wonder where the originality comes from when sampling someone else’s work.
“Matter is neither created nor destroyed,” Wonder said. “What’s original is how you use something or omit it.”
Students had a very positive reaction to Wonder’s lecture. One student in particular was Anisha Koilpillai who feels that she now has a new understanding of both sampling and hip hop as a whole.
This story was produced for COM 4300 News Media Projects. Any comments regarding this story can be directed to the course instructor, Beth Bradford (firstname.lastname@example.org).