9th Wonder Responds to Gladys Knight: ‘You Must Learn’
“It definitely has not elevated us as African-Americans, because we show disrespect for our partners, men and women,” Knight complained. “I believe we have lowered our self-esteem with these performances and presentations.”
In his response to Knight’s criticism, 9th, aka Professor Patrick Douthit defended the music which he’s made his life’s work, explaining that hip hop not only inspired his generation to attend college, but it also educated him about the lesser-known music of Knight’s generation, groups like The Dells, Mandrill and The Undisputed Truth, whom he never would have heard had it not been for rap artists who sampled their work.
Additionally he credits rap for informing his generation about the civil rights movement and many black leaders not included in our nation’s school curriculum.
“It was because of artists like Public Enemy, KRS-One, Brand Nubian, and A Tribe Called Quest that I heard names such as Carter G. Woodson, Medgar Evers, Steve Biko, Kwame Toure’, Marcus Garvey, Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, or ANYBODY outside of Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman in public schools,” Douthit wrote.
“These artists spoke about our elders in song, whether using the funk and soul records, or telling stories and mentioning names. From 1988 to 1993, black teens’ enrollment in college, especially HBCUs, rose to 45% because of the nature of the arts; from the African Medallions, to the Malcolm X t-shirts, the African-American College Alliance shirts Martin Lawrence wore on Def Comedy Jam, to School Daze, to the most powerful hour in black TV, The Cosby Show and A Different World. “Droppin’ Knowledge” if you will was made to be a “cool” or “in-crowd” thing. Unfortunately, the powers that be were against Hip-Hop being used as a NEW vessel to open the eyes of black kids and remind them to honor the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. It is very odd that around the same time, a more negative form of hip-hop was being PUSHED to the forefront, so our elders could turn their heads away from what we were REALLY trying to say, and divide us as ALWAYS.”
Check out the rest of 9th’s response here. Though his language is a little stilted, the point he makes is sound; there’s no excuse for ignorance.