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Harvard student submits rap album as his senior thesis

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/18/2017 By COLLIN BINKLEY, Associated Press
Obasi Shaw poses outside the gates of Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 18, 2017. Shaw, an English major who graduates from Harvard next week, is the university's first student to submit his final thesis in the form of a rap album. The record, called “Liminal Minds,” has earned the equivalent of an A- grade, good enough to ensure that Shaw will graduate with honors at the university’s commencement next week. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) © The Associated Press Obasi Shaw poses outside the gates of Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 18, 2017. Shaw, an English major who graduates from Harvard next week, is the university's first student to submit his final thesis in the form of a rap album. The record, called “Liminal Minds,” has earned the equivalent of an A- grade, good enough to ensure that Shaw will graduate with honors at the university’s commencement next week. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON (AP) — A senior at Harvard University is earning praise — and an honors degree — for his debut rap album.

Obasi Shaw poses outside the gates of Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 18, 2017. Shaw, an English major who graduates from Harvard next week, is the university's first student to submit his final thesis in the form of a rap album. The record, called “Liminal Minds,” has earned the equivalent of an A- grade, good enough to ensure that Shaw will graduate with honors at the university’s commencement next week. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) © The Associated Press Obasi Shaw poses outside the gates of Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 18, 2017. Shaw, an English major who graduates from Harvard next week, is the university's first student to submit his final thesis in the form of a rap album. The record, called “Liminal Minds,” has earned the equivalent of an A- grade, good enough to ensure that Shaw will graduate with honors at the university’s commencement next week. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Harvard officials say Obasi Shaw is the first student in the university's history to submit a rap album as a senior thesis in the English department.

Shaw is from an Atlanta suburb and describes his album as a moody take on what it means to be black in America.

The album draws on Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th-century classic "The Canterbury Tales" and other literary works. It received the equivalent of an A-minus grade, enough to guarantee Shaw will graduate with honors next week.

Shaw says he was surprised by the positive response from Harvard.

Rap and hip-hop have drawn growing academic interest from colleges, some of which now offer minors in hip-hop studies.

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