Duke University students have got it good. If they want to, they can take a course on soul music and learn how it influences contemporary cultural expression. The course, called Sampling Soul, sounds like a blast!
Winston-Salem’s own 9th Wonder, aka Patrick Douthit, a celebrated producer and former member of the Durham-based hip hop act, Little Brother, has taken his love for soul music, hip hop, and African-American culture and mixed it up into an academic offering that encourages students to consider how soul music has influenced American culture (and therefore, World culture) from the 1950s until now. The course also teaches students to appreciate the art of sampling and delves into some of the legal ramifications of sampling within the context of intellectual property law. (Should you really have to pay to sample Soul?)
African-American Studies professor, Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, and 9th Wonder began educating students in the fall of 2011 about the influence soul and hip hop has had on the world, solidifying the historical importance of this cultural expression, and opening the minds of a diverse set of young minds.
"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," 9th Wonder told HitQuarters, an online music industry newsletter.
Imagine hearing and learning about the magic of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, and Denise LaSalle, then listening to how hip hop reawakened our interest in soul. Certainly during the class, 9th Wonder must also talk a bit about his producing jobs for artists like Mary J. Blige, Wale, Jay-Z, Drake, and Destiny's Child.
Mark Anthony Neal’s blog NewBlackMan
to get a more in-depth look at the course description, including the reading list, which includes The Death of Rhythm & Blues by Nelson George and the provocative, slanguage-rich, Five Days of Bleeding by Ricardo Cortez Cruz.
In 2010, independent filmmaker Kenneth Price documented 9th Wonder's travels for an entire year and released a documentary called The Wonder Year about the musician's excursions. Here’s a clip from the project: