Ill - Literate: Art and Academics: A Public Lecture by Obasi Shaw

“I never thought it would be accepted by Harvard.” Said Obasi about his rap thesis. Is there a marriage between art and academics? Does academic culture exclude art, rap specifically, as a tool to communicate intelligence? Are most successful rappers school dropouts? The 20-year-old, originally from Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, helped put a magnifying glass on the stigmas attached to rap as an ineffective tool for positive societal change.

Obasi Shaw made history when he submitted a rap album, Liminal Minds, as his final year thesis at Harvard and received high honours. Hear My Voice partnered with African Drum productions and Unisa to put together an intimate lecture on the relationthip between art and academics. The event took place on the 14th of July 2017 and was livestreamed worldwide


  • Afridrum Productions
  • University of South Africa’s Department of English studies and Department of Communication Science.

Obasi Shaw

Shaw was the first Harvard student ever to submit a rap album as his thesis. His rap name is simply "Obasi". The Harvard Gazette did a big story on it. His album, called Liminal Minds, is intended as a black American version of The Canterbury Tales, with different characters narrating each song. He got the 2nd-highest grade possible for the project - a Summa Cum Laude Minus