A 21-year-old senior student at Harvard, Obasi Shaw will be graduating with an A- after he submitted a hip-hop album as his dissertation.
The 10-track album titled ‘Liminal Minds’ combines “elements of Middle English poetry with issues of racial identity in America” according to Obasi and took him about a year to complete. He says it was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and his own hobby of writing rap music and spoken word poetry.
Harvard added Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Nas’ Illmatic to the university library last year to signify their cultural significance but Obasi’s thesis is the first of its kind in the university’s history,since it was established in 1636.
Senior students at Harvard aren’t usually expected to write dissertations but if they want to graduate with honors, it is required. He said he got the idea from his mum, who noticed her son writing rap music and performing it at open mic nights on campus so instead of submitting an essay or a collection of poems he put together the album.
Obasi has now uploaded the album on SoundCloud. It has garnered thousands of plays and explores things like black American identity and the American dream.