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A Harvard Student’s Final Thesis Was a Rap Album, He Got An A

A Harvard Student’s Final Thesis Was a Rap Album, He Got An A

Harvard University isn’t exactly the first place you think of when hip-hop comes to mind, but the 381-year-old Ivy League school is making waves in the rap community thanks to a student named Obasi Shaw. For the first time in school history, he submitted a rap album, titled Liminal Minds, as his English department thesis, and it worked out pretty well for him, since he got an A (via AOL).

In an Instagram post, the school described the album as combining “elements of Middle English poetry with issues of racial identity in America,” and quoted Shaw as saying of the record, “[African-Americans are] free, but the effects of slavery still exist. Each song is an exploration of that state between slavery and freedom.”

Despite his early hip-hop success, Shaw will begin a software engineering internship after graduation, but will keep rapping as a hobby: “Rap is a genre in which I can say everything I want to say,” he said. “I’ve been writing in different capacities, but I never felt that I found my art form until I started rapping.”

This achievement is a step forward for hip-hop heads who want to see rap lyrics appreciated as a real and socially relevant art form, and it’s also a pleasure for fans of A Tribe Called Quest, because musically, Liminal Minds is very much inspired by the legendary group’s jazz-influenced sound.

Listen to Liminal Minds above, and let us know in the comments what you think about this academic piece of hip-hop history.

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.”⠀ â € 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.”⠀ â € #Harvard #Harvard17

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Featured image: Obasi Shaw/Soundcloud

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