Harvard Student Submits Rap Album as Senior Thesis

Obasi Shaw poses outside the gates of Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Harvard senior Obasi Shaw submitted the school’s first ever rap album as his senior thesis for his English honors degree.

The album, Liminal Minds, features 10 songs that touch on a variety of topics including slavery, segregation, police brutality and mass incarceration.

How beautiful the feet that walk the trail of tears,
Bare-soled and bloodstained, on display for their peers;
Do you know how it feels—to have your history erased?
Your founding fathers all convicted and evicted from their place?

Each song on the album is told from a different character’s perspective, an idea inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century classic “The Canterbury Tales.”

“I never thought it would be accepted by Harvard,” said the 20-year-old from Stone Mountain, Georgia. “I didn’t think they would respect rap as an art form enough for me to do it.”

Harvard undergraduates aren’t obligated to submit senior theses, but most departments require it to graduate with honors.

For his effort, Shaw received a grade of summa cum laude minus, which roughly translates to an A minus.

Shaw says he hopes his album will open up doors in the music industry, but in the meantime has a job as a software engineer at Google, lined up for the Fall.

Amanda Scott

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