Shark Spotlight: Professor Patrick "9th Wonder" Douthit and What it Takes to Make it in Music Today
Updated: Feb 16
By: EMMA CHEATHAM / PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
Professor Patrick Douthit of the Roc Nation School of Music, Sports, and Entertainment, better known as world-renowned music producer 9th Wonder, sat down with Seawanhaka to give insight into his life in music and education while also imparting advice for the next generation of the music industry
Douthit, who was raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, revealed he began his career in music at a young age through his experience in his middle school and high school band. He explained that in band class, he learned the basics of music theory concurrently with the Golden Age of Hip Hop.
Although music was a big part of his life, he never intended to be a musician. He attended North Carolina Central University with the intention of becoming a high school history teacher. It was during his college experience he decided that working a conventional job would not be for him while also beginning to make beats in his dorm room.
After a long deliberation with his mother, a kindergarten teacher for over 40 years, he dropped out of school to pursue his dreams of being an artist.
During his brief time in college, he met two fellow musicians and started a group together called Little Brother. However, getting the band off of the ground was a difficult task and took them five years to be discovered.
After the release of his group’s first album, Jay Z’s sound engineer Young Guru, became a fan of 9th Wonder’s production style. This led to him being on the creative team for the Black Album which was released in 2003.
“That’s when my now eighteen year relationship started with Jay-Z and now I’m teaching at the Roc Nation School,” he said reflectively.
Douthit also said he learned a lot of important lessons from Jay-Z like how to talk to the media and how to keep your work relevant, as the music industry can be tough and unfair at times.
Reflecting on his own time in the music business he said, “I’ve been lucky in my career. I haven’t been so scarred by the music industry that I’m bitter.”
He later added that he’s also made great friends and has been able to talk to a number of artists he listened to from his adolescent years, “It’s remarkable to me that when my phone rings and the name Busta Rhymes comes up and I don’t freak out. I truly consider him a friend.” Pensively he said, ”I just never would have thought that this would be my life.”
Of course, such an inspiring person like Douthit would have people who have inspired him and he had plenty to name. Among them were the greatest of all time and the underdogs, the rich and the meek, both family and friends.
The first person he listed was his mother whom he said is, “a testimony to being Black and living in the American South. She got a front row seat of the Civil Rights Movement.” He continued saying, “It's remarkable, my mom is 79 and my dad is 80, and to live that long and see everything that they’ve seen, that's definitely something that is an inspiration to me.”
The second person he listed was his mentor Dr. Ernest Wade, the director of a program for a select group of high school students which he credits with changing his life “tremendously.”
Before departing, Douthit shared some words of wisdom for the RocNation students and their futures in music.
“Don’t rush it,” he said, “Spend this time working on your art. You don’t have to have it all figured out at such a young age. You live in the age of social media and watch everyone’s timelines, sometimes watching someone else’s life will mess up your own.”
He also added that he thinks the students at LIU are “brilliant”and that there is something different, “because I’m teaching a bunch of gifted, very smart kids that don’t miss my words when I’m talking. They get it.”