A Harvard student just made university history by becoming the first one to submit a rap album for his final thesis – and he’s actually graduating with honors!
20-year-old Obasi Shaw wrote and recorded Liminal Minds, a 10-track rap album, within a year and it eventually ended up being awarded summa cum laude minus, the second highest grade in the department.
Shaw, who is from Stone Mountain, Georgia, admitted that he “never thought it would be accepted by Harvard”.
In a feature by Independent, we learn that each song in the album is “told from a different character’s perspective, a format inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s seminal 14th century piece, The Canterbury Tales, and focuses on black identity in America.” .
The website also tells us that while undergraduate university students are not required to submit senior theses, it is necessary for those intending to graduate with honors.
Shaw decided to take the ‘cool’ route and did something different instead of writing an essay or submitting a collection of poems. The student likewise shared that it was his mother who gave him the initial idea after she saw him writing raps and performing at campus open mic nights.
Declaration of Independence, the first song in Liminal Minds, has the words:
“Behold, what we hold is three-fold—Body and spirit to be thrones for free souls. Self is the evidence, please close the freak shows, And depose the evils, our peoples are equals”.
Watch the video feature here and learn more:
Josh Bell, a Harvard English lecturer and Shaw’s thesis adviser, says he is very much impressed with the student’s output not only as an academic piece but also as an artistic creation.
After graduation, Shaw will work at Google as a software engineer.
We sure hope he’d keep making music though on his free time!
For those interested to hear the complete album, head over to SoundCloud and listen to it for free.
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