Nas is known as one of the most prolific rap artists to ever grace a microphone and his most recent achievement is clear testament to such opinions. A donor who wanted to remain anonymous specifically gave funding to Harvard University so that there would be a fellowship that taught students about Hip-Hop culture and other academic related programs pertaining to the genre.
It all came to fruition when Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. reached out to Nas to ask permission for his name to be on the fellowship, which in full reads The Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship. Dr. Gates is currently hosting a PBS series, Many Rivers To Cross but still went out his way to personally ensure that they could get Nas to accept the offer.
Rolling Stone was on hand for the occasion and got into the God Son rapper’s psyche on his reasoning for taking on such an honor.
The Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship is the result of a major endowment from an anonymous donor who wanted Nas to be the face of the program. “He said ‘Nasir Jones is the man,'” recalled Gates, sitting with the rapper and Hiphop Archive founder Marcyliena Morgan. The fellowship is for visiting scholars and will help pay for their research and hip-hop related academic programs.
Nas said his mother wanted him to go to North Carolina State, where his grandparents lived, but he didn’t finish high school. Even before he started performing, he said, he recognized that hip-hop could be an education in itself. “One thing that drew me to hip-hop was the things Kurtis Blow was saying, the things Melle Mel was saying,” he said. “I would ask my folks, ‘What do Run-D.M.C. or Rakim mean by this?’
“Hip-hop is important like computer science,” he continued. “The world is changing. If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what’s happening right underneath your nose.”
The veteran rapper recently celebrated the 20th anniversary for his debut album, Illmatic which, many critics consider one of the best albums ever created, regardless of musical preference.
Peep out la galleria and decide which rapper should get an equally distinguished honor next.