Patrick "9th Wonder" Douthit is a producer by trade, but he wears lots of hats. He oversees the hip-hop initiative at his alma mater, Durham's NC Central University, and also runs two independent labels -- on top of staying busy in the studio producing tracks for Ludacris, Eryka Badu and others. And now he has a fancy new title: the NAACP's new National Ambassador For Hip-Hop Relations and Popular Culture. It began with the NAACP approaching Wonder to put together a mixtape for the organization, which he agreed to do.
"But then I told them, 'Let's try to do something better than that,'" Douthit says. "We talked about them sending me around to schools to talk to kids about hip-hop history, and I asked if the NAACP has ever had a national spokesperson for hip-hop relations. The president of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous, is 36. So he's my generation and he knows how important hip-hop and the message it used to carry is -- about inspiring youth instead of bringing negativity. He's the one who changed the title from 'spokesperson' to 'ambassador.'"
Douthit is working on assembling a board of directors, in between recording sessions with David Banner and actor Idris Elba (best-known as Stringer Bell from the HBO series "The Wire"). Along with overseeing panel discussions at schools across the country, Douthit hopes to put together a big benefit concert for next spring.
"We'll try to be the voice the NAACP has never had," he says. "The goal is to usher in a new way of thinking. Barack Obama has got a lot of people thinking about things in new ways, getting more involved."