College is a pivotal time in a young person’s life; a time when their identities are solidified, their interests are confirmed, and their livers are eroded. As a culture, hip-hop has always been a powerful force for the young, and colleges, universities, and the like weren’t exactly up on the importance that hip-hop has in the lives of many as a tool for social activism and a way of perceiving the world.
Now, it’s extremely common to see MCs, producers, and more figures from the hip-hop world take the stage for a lecture or a commencement speech; Bun B co-runs an online class on hip-hop and religion through edX that started in March, and just this week, Killer Mike and the Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA were invited to speak at MIT, one of the premiere schools in the country, about race relations and physics (yes, GZA is speaking about PHYSICS!), respectively; but they’re far from the first to take up the mantle.
Killer Mike & Big Boi
Troy Davis’ 2011 execution for killing a police officer divided the state of Georgia, and being from Atlanta and Savannah respectively, Killer Mike and OutKast’s Big Boi spoke on the man’s death before a crowd of Morehouse college students and the NAACP at a rally. .
The producer extraordinaire Young Guru sat with MIT students to talk about all aspects of the music business.
Lil’ B is infamous for many reasons; for being a meme rapper, for towing the line between mocking and celebrating hip-hop culture, and for his lectures at colleges across the country from MIT to NYU and many more in between.
‘Ye’s got a lot on his mind at any given time, and he’s taken many opportunities to share it with college students across the country. Check him out speaking to Harvard graduate students below.
Howard University’s 2014 commencement speaker was none other than Bad Boy founder Puff Daddy/P.Diddy/Diddy. The musician/businessman gave a rousing speech to college graduates, which is impressive given that he dropped out of Howard in 1990. He also received an honorary degree from the school after his speech.
MC Lyte stopped by John Jay College to speak about the role her mother played in her life, raising her as a single parent. It’s a swelling speech, to be sure.
Cole spoke at Harvard University just before the release of Born Sinner about the project, his life, and where he sees himself in 10 years. Cole also just recently played a show at his alma mater, St. John’s University, where he was given his honorary degree after graduating with an overdue library book kept him from getting it before.