The Hip-Hop Fellow chronicles 9th Wonder’s work on the Harvard hip-hop archive and examines what makes an album part of the hip-hop canon. As The Root’s editor-in-chief, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., describes, the film also illustrates how, when artists take a sample and “embed it in a new composition,” they’ve effectively created “literature” in the hip-hop form.
In 9th Wonder’s words: “We take something that may be scraps and turn them into jewels.”
“Nobody from hip-hop,” 9th Wonder explains in the film, “is supposed to go to Harvard without a degree.” But what we learn is that hip-hop isn’t only the music and the movement. It’s an education.
Gloria Ayee is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of political science at Duke University, where she is pursuing a graduate certificate in African and African-American studies, and a graduate fellow at Duke’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences. She is also creator of the blog Dreaming in Color. Follow her on Twitter.