As a boy growing up in Atlanta, Obasi Shaw ’17 listened exclusively to Christian rap, a little-known genre that features songs of faith and salvation with positive messages and clean lyrics.
Then, about two years ago, Shaw listened to Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper, who have achieved popular and critical success with poignant songs about the contemporary struggles of blacks in America. And over time, Shaw has grown to admire both men’s artistry and their willingness to delve into “questions of race, religion, and black identity” — admiration that found its way into Shaw’s senior thesis.
Shaw 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.”⠀
I just read the article in the Boston Globe about you, and your senior thesis. Congratulations, and here's to the great adventures you'll have...
That's ma main man (shaw) man you really hit the social xo big ...proud of you dude ...more to offer ..proudly harvardian
Good of you Shaw for combining intellectualism and entertainment into innovation. Superb.
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