When it comes to higher education, few schools in the U.S. have a name that rings bells quite like Harvard. That being said, hip-hop music seems to be what’s ringing bells on their campus as perhaps the only school of their stature having made very intentional efforts to embrace it.
Those efforts include establishing legendary producer 9th Wonder as a “Harvard Fellow,” giving him the responsibility of maintaining hip-hop music within the school’s expansive library. He was also placed within a professorship role where he taught a course titled “The Standards of Hip-Hop” for an entire year. Iconic rapper Nas has also been the target of the Ivy League school’s adoration. In 2013 the Nasir Jones Fellowship was established at the school with the stated purpose being “to seek projects from scholars and artists that build on the rich and complex hip-hop tradition.” He recently took it a step further, sitting down with a poetry professor in order to help with the education of the lyrical content from his classic album Illmatic.
Maybe it was his school’s flirting with the genre that had student Obasi Shaw thinking outside of the box when it came time to complete his thesis assignment; the signature assignment required for students to complete their degree by is a written paper of around 100 pages in length. Shaw however, had something else in mind and asked that he instead be allowed to submit a complete rap album.
“I never thought it would be accepted by Harvard. I didn’t think they would respect rap as an art form enough for me to do it,” Shaw told the Boston Globe.
According to their report, his ten-track album entitled Liminal Minds took over a year to create and specifically tackles the topic of what it means to be Black in America. You can listen to and download the project below. While Shaw says he wasn’t completely satisfied with the production quality, his professor found it fitting of an A-minus. Let us know in the comments where you would’ve graded it.