Harvard University senior Obasi Shaw is in the news for becoming the first student in the school’s history to turn in a rap album as a thesis.
Shaw, who is from Atlanta suburb Stone Mountain, Ga., turned in an album titled Liminal Minds. Liminal is defined, “of, relating to, or situated at a sensory threshold : barely perceptible or capable of eliciting a response” or “of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition.”
The album’s theme sway between the concept of slavery and freedom as Shaw talks about modern day police brutality as well the centuries of institutional racism that continue to foster it. While the effort is beyond valiant, many are wondering if the project is actually worth checking out.
The answer is yes.
Shaw definitely spits his truths and facts with the confidence of a well-read scholar. But what makes the project even more impressive is he keeps the raps very “Black” as in you hear him in every track, not just news articles and book pages. You can feel his anger, fear, and vulnerability throughout the project. Shaw’s raps give you the sense that he is well aware that although he is a soon-to-be Harvard graduate, he is still a young Black kid that could get killed by a police officer at the drop of a dime for no reason.
Now, is Shaw’s album without flaws? No. You can definitely tell that he is not a professional rapper and at times the mixes are off and the beats are less than spectacular. Shaw has admitted to some of this himself. However, Shaw does a good job at not sounding like any other rappers out right now.
Shaw isn’t the first college student in recent memory to turn in a rap album as a project. Clemson University doctoral student A.D. Carson turned an album and music videos as his dissertation back in February.
Check out Liminal Minds below and read the lyrics on Genius.
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