This Harvard University student became the first to graduate by submitting rap album as thesis

Obasi Shaw's mother came up with the idea. While he was skeptical if the University would accept it, his professors were quite impressed by his thesis.

A rap album as a topic of graduation thesis? Sounds a bit odd as well as different, right? Harvard University student, Obasi Shaw, 20, submitted a 10-track rap album for his graduation thesis and became the first student in the history of the University to do so. In what can be called something completely out-of-the-box, when all the students were busy writing down thousands of words for their thesis, Obasi Shaw came up with the most innovative idea and submitted a rap album instead.

According to an Instagram post put up on the official page of the Harvard University, ‘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.’


Before submitting his thesis, Obasi Shaw was skeptical if the University would accept it or not, according to a report by The Independent (UK). The report further states that it was Obasi’s mother who came up with the idea and encouraged him to go ahead with it as she was confident about her son’s talent and had seen him performing on open mic nights on campus.

According to a Washington Times report, Obasi’s professors were so impressed with the idea that they awarded him with a grade of summa cum laude (“with highest distinction”) minus. As mentioned in the Harvard’s Instagram post, Obasi would move to Seattle for a one-year internship programme in Software Enginnering, upon completing his graduation.