5 Rappers Who Have Given University Lectures
Once in a while, the world’s finest academic institutions lower the drawbridge and invite those who most young people really want to listen to – rappers.
These lectures can be profoundly inspiring, hilarious or a complete waste of everyone’s time. They’re mostly great fun though, and those who object to them are often confused middle aged people, snobs, fuckboys or all of the above.
Earlier this week, Atlanta crunk legend Lil Jon received a warm welcome when he arrived at the Oxford Guild to engage in discussion with the nation’s future elite.
“People said I was objectifying women. Am I telling her to shake her ass like that?” the man behind Shawty Freak a Lil Sumtin’ pondered. “If she wants to shake her butt, let her shake her butt!” While it’s unlikely that Jon has the collected work of Simone de Beauvoir on his bookshelf, there’s arguably some food for thought there.
In light of Lil Jon’s recent appearance, we put together a list of emcees who’ve got behind the lectern and kicked knowledge in some of the world’s most esteemed lecture halls.
Killer MikeMassachusetts Institute of Technology
As if being half of one of hip-hop’s heaviest duos isn’t enough Killer Mike is also a renowned smartypants with a PHD in being really, really funny. OK, he may have obtained that PHD from the school of life but it still counts.
Last year Mike was asked to give a talk at prestigious university MIT and eloquently tackled a range of subjects including good business sense in rap, race relations and the prevalence of idiocy in the genre.
Most Inspirational Quote: “Dumb rappers should just shut the fuck up and make dumb music.”
Lil BNew York University | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Depending on your ability to consume a relentless stream of overwhelmingly positive tweets and glaringly messy mixtapes, Lil B’s output is either a post-modern excercise in unfiltered emotion or a massive load of shite. But no matter what your stance is, you’d have to have heart of stone not to be moved by the #rare and #legendary university lectures he’s given.
These appearances have also established the Based God as a style icon. For his 2012 NYU lecture, Lil B wore an illuminous green t-shirt, a hippyish neckscarf and a bindi. At his MIT talk, an open brown leather jacket exposed his bare chest. Swag.
Most Inspirational Line: “Every single person you meet, look at them like a golden million dollar baby.”
Kanye WestOxford University
Kanye West could make a good case for being the most famous person in the world. His egotistical rants and cerebral hip-hop have gained him a following that almost justifies his claims that he is infact the almighty creator himself.
Fitting then that Oxford University – thought by many to be the best university in the world – actually asked him to come and give a talk to students. Ye gleefully accepted and off he trotted to fill young minds with nuggets of wisdom. Not forgetting, of course, to compare himself to Picasso along the way.
Most Inspirational Quote: “One of my biggest Achilles heels has been my ego. And if I, Kanye West, the very person, can remove my ego, I think there’s hope for everyone.”
GZAMassachusetts Institute of Technology | Harvard | University of Toronto
Everyone knows that GZA is the Genius, so it’s not all that surprising that recent years have seen the lyrical swordsman hit the lecture circuit, often while wearing a slightly crap fleece. Subjects of his lectures have included the Wu-Tang Clan’s history, hip-hop as a civic media, astronomy, physics and something called “genomic origami”.
He even performed an acappella rap about The Big Bang Theory once. Safe to say that his forthcoming album Dark Matter will be one for the heads.
Most Inspirational Line: “Live a life full of humility, gratitude, intellectual curiosity, and never stop learning.”
Chance The RapperHarvard University
By and large, Chance The Rapper seems like a good egg. He was recently invited by the Harvard Hip-hop Archive & Research Institute to speak to an audience of Ivy League students (“I thought you guys were troubled kids and shit and I was coming to talk to you about getting your lives together,” he joked), and the Q&A that followed provoked open and eloquent answers about the Baltimore riots, Kanye West, Chicago drill, misogynist lyrics and the power of Soundcloud. To our horror, he declared the cover of the Arthur theme tune to be his “proudest moment”. But then again, maybe we just need to cheer up.
Most Inspiring Line: “At the end of the day, all these streaming services are whack as fuck.”