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Jakarta Post

Harvard student composes rap album for thesis

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, May 31, 2017   /   05:39 pm
Harvard student composes rap album for thesis A view of Harvard University and a pedestrian bridge over the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Shutterstock/-)

While just attending Harvard might be considered an achievement in itself, Obasi Shaw, a member of the class of 2017, has submitted Harvard’s very first rap thesis.

The English major was awarded a grade of summa cum laude minus for his 10-track album Liminal Minds, a play on the TV show Criminal Minds and a reference to “the in-between state of blacks in this country: free but often marginalized, free yet not equal.”

“Black people in America are kind of caught between freedom and slavery,” Shaw told the Harvard Gazette.

“They’re free, but the effects of slavery still exist in society and in people’s subconscious. Each song is an exploration of black liminality, that state between slavery and freedom.” 

Read also: Australian student honors Kartini with a song

The album is dedicated to the struggles of Black Americans, and some of the songs touch on the Black Lives Matter movement, Barack Obama, and mass incarceration.

Shaw told the Gazette that while growing up, he listened exclusively to Christian rap and it was his mother who suggested incorporating rap into his thesis.

“Some people don’t consider rap a high art form,” Shaw said as quoted by the Huffington Post. “But poetry and rap are very similar. Rhyming poems were very common in old English poetry.” (sul/kes)