June 12, 2024

Harvard student submits rap album as final year thesis

Harvard student submits rap album as final year thesis news 1x1.trans

Obasi Shaw poses outside the gates of Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 18, 2017. Shaw, an English major who graduates from Harvard next week, is the university’s first student to submit his final thesis in the form of a rap album. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Obasi Shaw is graduating with honors from Harvard after submitting a 10-track rap album for his final thesis, the first in the history of Harvard.

It took Shaw a year to write Liminal Minds, and for his efforts, he was awarded the honor of summa cum laude minus, the second-highest grade in the department.

Each track is told from a different point of view, with the inspiration taken from The Canterbury Tales of the 14th century, though this project focuses on the experience of being black in America.

“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,” Shaw raps in his first track.

— After no one asked her to prom, teen takes Harvard letter instead — 

The idea to make his senior thesis a rap album came from Shaw’s mother, who noticed that he had been writing raps to perform at open mic nights on campus. Spurred on by the suggestion, Shaw took to recording the album, rather than writing a collection of essays or poetry.

While seniors at Harvard are not required to write a thesis for their undergraduate degrees, they are required to complete one if they want to graduate with honors, which Shaw did.

Shaw has now made the album available online for free.

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