Harvard Student Graduates With Honours After Submitting An Album Instead Of Dissertation

The Next Rap Star?

A Harvard student will be graduating with honours after handing in an album for his final year thesis. The ten song album is the first of its kind in the universities’ history. 

Obasi Shaw wrote the album titled Liminal Minds, it received the second highest grade in the department-summa cum laude minus. 

The songs on the album are told from the perspectives of different people, Shaw got the inspiration for this from Geoffrey Chaucer’s seminal 14th century piece, The Canterbury Tales. However, Shaw’s album takes a look at black identity in America. 

The 20-year-old, originally from Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta said he “never thought it would be accepted by Harvard”. 

Rather than write an essay,a collection of poems or a piece of prose, Shaw took his mothers idea and started work on the album. Shaw’s mother came up with the idea after witnessing her son write raps and perform them at open mic nights. 

Perception of rap have recently changed, with the genre now considered an art form. Kendrick Lamar’s  To Pimp A Butterfly and Nas’ Illmatic have both been added to the Harvard library because of their cultural significance. 

It’s clear these are Shaw’s idols as like Nas and Kendrick he uses multi-syllable rhymes, which are considered  a hallmark of complex and advanced rapping. In the first track Declaration Of Independence Shaw writes: “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”.

To Pimp A Butterfly album cover

The album was well received by  Harvard English lecturer and Shaw’s thesis adviser Josh Bell, who praised it as a piece of academic work and an artistic creation.

Shaw’s album is available online for free, after he graduates he will work as a software engineer at Google. 

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