Class of 2017 Harvard graduate Obasi Shaw created a rap album as his senior thesis, instantly making headlines everywhere. Not only has a rap album never before been submitted as a senior thesis in the Harvard English Department, Shaw set the bar high by receiving a grade of summa cum laude minus. That’s a fancy Latin way of saying “with greatest honor” and then minus because nothing at Harvard is allowed to be perfect. His album entitled Liminal Minds examines issues including race and religion, written during the very volatile year of 2016. Shaw discusses the fact that although slavery is over, we’re quite a long way from social equality. What’s very cool to the English literature nerd in me is that the album borrows elements from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, such as the use of different character perspectives. A more thorough description of Shaw and his inspirations for the album was published in The Harvard Gazette. I highly suggest you check it out.
Although most of us are aware that hip-hop is a very suitable method of artistic expression, Shaw’s bold move to submit his work as a senior thesis with such recognition is delightful. It reminds us that there is a scholarly community in hip-hop music, and poetry and hip-hop are artistically siblings. Aside from that, there are some seriously kicking tunes on this album. Unlike college, Liminal Minds is available for free on Shaw’s Soundcloud.