This Harvard Student Is The First Ever To Submit A Rap Album As His Senior Thesis

May 20, 2017  |  

obasi shaw

With hip-hop and rap growing more mainstream and accepted as apart of not just African-American culture, but American culture as a whole, you might have thought this sort of thing would’ve happened a long time ago. There have been classes and coursework dedicated to exploring the artistry and careers of influential artists. Armstrong State University in Savannah, GA offered an English class on Outkast and hip-hop and Washington University in St. Louis, MO recently debuted a course entitled, “The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics.”

Taking hip-hop meets academia a step further, senior Obasi Shaw is graduating Harvard University with honors and may have his mixtape to thank.

BET reports that Shaw who is originally from the suburbs of Atlanta, GA describes the album as “a moody take on what it means to be Black in America.” The rap album the grad submitted as his senior thesis is titled “Liminal Minds” and combines elements of Middle English poetry with issues of racial identity in America. He received an A- for his work and as a result is set to graduate with honors next week.

In a recent statement, Shaw described the influence behind his work:

“[African-Americans are] free, but the effects of slavery still exist. Each song is an exploration of that state between slavery and freedom.”

“Rap is a genre in which I can say everything I want to say. I’ve been writing in different capacities, but I never felt that I found my art form until I started rapping.”

Harvard revealed that although Shaw will be moving to Seattle post-graduation to complete a one-year internship in software engineering, he will continue to keep rap as a hobby. The school also shared his story on its official Instagram page:

Killing books and beats? We love it. Congrats to Mr. Shaw on his accomplishments!

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