Academia increasingly recognizes rap music as an art form to convey thought-provoking ideas. The genre reached a new milestone when Harvard University, for the first time, accepted a rap album as a senior thesis, Boston.com reports.
“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,” Obasi Shaw, the 20-year-old Harvard student from Stone Mountain, Georgia, told the Associated Press.
Shaw’s album, titled “Liminal Minds,” received an A-minus from Harvard’s English Department. Harvard does not require its undergraduates to write a thesis, but they can graduate with honor if they choose to submit a thesis.
He raps about the African-American experience—from slavery to police violence. The AP said Shaw described his 10-track album “as dark and moody.” He approaches the narrative from the perspective of multiple characters, much like Geoffrey Chaucer does in his 14th century work, “The Canterbury Tales.”
Harvard is the latest university to recognize rap’s merits.The Clemson Newsstand reported that a doctoral candidate at Clemson University submitted a 34-track rap album in February for his dissertation.
On that album, titled “Owning My Master: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions,” A.D. Carson uses rap to examine identity, justice, economics, citizenship and language, the student newspaper stated.