Despite it’s reputation as a stuffy, Ivy League institution, Harvard has actually made some significant strides in the last few years to open up their hallowed doors to the world of Hip-Hop. The most recent example is 20-year-old Obasi Shaw, who broke new ground by becoming the first student in the school’s 381-year history to submit a rap album as his final thesis.
Titled Liminal Minds, Obasi’s album spans ten tracks that, in his words serve as, “an exploration of that state between slavery and freedom.” Adding, “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.”
Obasi Shaw '17 submitted Harvard's first rap thesis, "Liminal Minds," which combines elements of Middle English poetry with issues of racial identity in America. “[African-Americans are] free, but the effects of slavery still exist," says Shaw. "Each song is an exploration of that state between slavery and freedom.”⠀ ⠀ After graduation, Shaw will move to Seattle for a one-year internship in software engineering. As for rap, he’ll keep it as a treasured hobby. “Rap is a genre in which I can say everything I want to say,” Shaw said. “I’ve been writing in different capacities, but I never felt that I found my art form until I started rapping.”⠀ ⠀ #Harvard #Harvard17
In 2011, Harvard broke into the rap sphere by inviting the Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA to speak and perform at the Harvard Black Men’s Forum. A couple of years later, the school announced the creation of the the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship. In a statement, the school declared their intention to, “provide selected scholars and artists with an opportunity to show that “education is real power,” as it builds upon the achievements of those who demonstrate exceptional capacity for productive scholarship and exceptional creative ability in the arts, in connection with Hiphop.”
You can listen to Obasi Shaw’s album/thesis Liminal Minds above.