Harvard senior gets an A for his rap album senior thesis

A student at Harvard University became the first to submit a rap album as a thesis to the English Department -- and he got an A.

Obasi Shaw's album, "Liminal Minds," received glowing reviews. It has ten tracks about what it's like to be black in America; each song is from a different character's perspective. Shaw found inspiration from "The Canterbury Tales," as well as author James Baldwin.

The title is a play of the phrase "criminal minds."

"Black people in America are kind of caught between freedom and slavery," Shaw told the Harvard Gazette. "Each song is an exploration of black liminality, that state between slavery and freedom."

Shaw's thesis adviser, English lecturer Josh Bell, called Shaw an artist. "He was able to turn around an album that people in the English Department would like very much but also that people who like rap music might like," Bell told the Associated Press.

The 20-year-old didn't think the unique thesis would be accepted. "I didn't think they would respect rap as an art form enough for me to do it," he said. Shaw, however, received the equivalent of an A-minus -- meaning he will graduate with honors.

It took Shaw more than a year to put the album together -- and he's still not satisfied. "I'm still not satisfied with the quality of the production just yet, but I'm constantly learning and growing," he told AP.

You can listen to the album on Shaw's Soundcloud.

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