This Graduating Senior Made Harvard History With a Hip Hop Album Senior Thesis

The fear of graduating college can get heavy. The list of concerns is long. “Will I have enough credits?”. “Will I pass my final exams?”. Well,one graduating senior took this fear to another levelby adding a new worryto theFAQ sheet:Will theHarvard board accept aHip Hop album as asenior thesis?!

This is aquestion that 20 year-old Obasi Shaw found himself asking this past semester and he finally got his answer. Not only will they accept it, if it is good enough, it will get you a diploma with honors!

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Obasi Shaw '17 submitted Harvard's first rap thesis, "Liminal Minds," which combines elements of Middle English poetry with issues of racial identity in America. “[African-Americans are] free, but the effects of slavery still exist," says Shaw. "Each song is an exploration of that state between slavery and freedom.”⠀ ⠀ After graduation, Shaw will move to Seattle for a one-year internship in software engineering. As for rap, he’ll keep it as a treasured hobby. “Rap is a genre in which I can say everything I want to say,” Shaw said. “I’ve been writing in different capacities, but I never felt that I found my art form until I started rapping.”⠀ ⠀ #Harvard #Harvard17

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The 10 track mixtape/album titled Liminal Mindswas a semester long labor of love by Shaw that he tookon after runningout of possible ideas for a senior thesis (A feeling all to familiar for a lot of us).

The projectexplores the conflictsassociated withrace, identity and acceptance in black America through a combination of melody, spoken word poetry and good old fashion rapping.Up until now, Harvard has never received, approved or accepted such a project as a senior thesis. An impressive accomplishment for someone who doesn’t primarily study music(he is graduating with aComputer Science degree).

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Being a senior in college can be scary.How we would want to spend ourfinal semester is often at oddswith thepressures from work, final exams and projects. To make matters worse, the fear of “what’s next” can be all to real.

But something they neglect to emphasize in college is that real life is mostly a mix ofluck and a lot of risk taking. It’s about going out on limbs and taking chances, not knowing “what’s next.”

Hard work simply helps create opportunities for this mix to occur.Shaw, like many other successful people in Harvard history, has learned early on that the best bet you can make in life is on yourself.

By utilizingsomething he loves, he was able to kill two birds with one stone and become the first Harvard graduate to satisfy his final thesis requirement with a hip hop album. Something which, by the way, is just flat out freaking awesome! A story like that will definitely crush in interviews. Also, the music itself isreally good! Take a listen below.



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