- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2017

Harvard University’s English Department recently stunned one of its students by not only accepting his senior thesis in rap form, but grading it an A.

Obasi Shaw penned “Liminal Minds” at Cambridge this semester as a reflection on “black liminality” and the “state between slavery and freedom.” His professors liked the idea — and the final result — and awarded him a grade of summa cum laude minus.

Mr. Shaw spoke to the school newspaper last week about the experience, a first for the Ivy League institution.

“Some people don’t consider rap a high art form,” Mr. Shaw told the Harvard Gazette on May 16. “But poetry and rap are very similar. Rhyming poems were very common in old English poetry.”

“A nation due for inspection, this is the audit, herein,” the 20-year-old raps on one song. “Lies the fear in the eyes of our departed dearly/Cold bodies facing .22, man in blue.”

Josh Bell, a poetry workshops teacher at the school, told the newspaper that Mr. Shaw used Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” as an “intellectual overlay” to tell stories “critical of American society and racial politics.”

“But above all that, it’s a fun and interesting album,” Mr. Bells said.

“Rap is a genre in which I can say everything I want to say,” Mr. Shaw said. “I’ve been writing in different capacities, but I never felt that I found my art form until I started rapping.”

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