A Conversation with 9th Wonder: Durham to Harvard Fellow

At the start of this year I began thinking about what I wanted from this blog and what I wanted to accomplish this year. The blog being called La Buena Vida “The Good Life”, I reaffirmed that I wanted to use this site to express how I live what I consider to be a “good life” but also tell other peoples story and learn from their journey. I challenged myself to use something I consider a weakness (giving interviews) and turn it into a strength while gaining insight from those who are willing to share it.

So when I reached out to Grammy winning hip-hop producer 9th Wonder to do an interview before a concert with Nas in Durham, I was not expecting him to say yes to being interviewed by some dude with a food blog but I sent the email anyway. Shortly after, I received a reply from his assistant saying he would be “willing and honored” to do an interview with me. My first thought was, “willing and honored” did they reply to the right email and my second thought was oh shit I’m not qualified for this! This was going to be a major step in my goal of stepping out of my comfort zone as much as possible in 2013 and daring myself to fail.

I knew that 9th Wonder was a rapper and producer that has worked with Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, David Banner, Mary J Blige and more but as I started doing more research, I started to realize what an interesting and complex individual he is. In 2010, 9th was invited to co-teach a class at Duke University called “Sampling Soul”, that move was followed up with an invitation from Harvard to be a fellow in the Hip Hop Archive (which is located at Harvard of all places) and spend the next three years working on research project at the WEB DeBois Institute. All of this while running an independent record label showcasing artists with lyrical talent over some mainstream artists who could’t take the cookie monster in a rap battle.

The more I learned about Patrick Douthit, the more my fear turned to excitement at the opportunity to learn directly from someone who has accomplished so much in 38 years walking the earth. So once sound check was complete  at the Durham Performing Arts Center, 9th Wonder met me at Tobacco Road Sports Bar and I would get my shot to interview a celebrity. So what if my only experience giving interviews was interviewing a couple friends for my site and my dog after one too many Dewar’s. I figured this would be an epic fail or great success but either way I was going to learn something and walk away better than I walked in.

So above is my interview with super producer 9th Wonder. He was such a humble person and very generous with his time (I asked for 10-15 minutes but took about 25 minutes and still didn’t ask all the questions I wanted to). I think it went well and there are things I took from it that I can improve on  for future with interviews with celebrities and regular folk alike. Hope you enjoy and constructive criticism is as always, welcome.


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Categories: Music


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2 Comments on “A Conversation with 9th Wonder: Durham to Harvard Fellow”

  1. Don
    March 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Nice work Rano. . . Like what you’re doing.

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