Rapper agreed to lend his name to scholarship project 'in a nanosecond'
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Nas … 'Hip-hop is important like computer science'
Jay Z said he was "not a businessman, I'm a business, man", Kanye West intends to be a fashion mogul, but Nas has gone for a different kind of status. This week, the rapper introduced the Nasir Jones Hiphop fellowship at America's most august educational institution, Harvard University , in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The rapper was asked to lend his name to the project by Henry Louis Gates Jr, Harvard's director of the WEB Du Bois Research Institute, and said at the launch of the fellowship this week that he agreed to the proposal "in a nanosecond", Rolling Stone reported .
"I said no to a lot of things in my 20s," Nas said. "In the beginning, I was a fighter. I'm always going to be a fighter, but I fight differently, for different reasons, today.
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" Hip-hop is important like computer science," he said. "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 fellowship was first announced in July, when Nas declared himself "over-the-top excited" about the scheme. "My hopes are that greed for knowledge, art, self-determination and expression go a long way. It is a true honour to have my name attached to so much hard work, alongside great names like Henry Louis Gates, Jr and WEB Du Bois and to such a prestigious and historical institution, and all in the name of the music I grew to be a part of."
Harvard's Hiphop Archive was founded in 2002. Its mission statement reads: "The mission of the Hiphop Archive and Research Institute is threefold: to seek projects from scholars and artists that build on the rich and complex hip-hop tradition; to respect that tradition through historically grounded and contextualised critical insights; and most importantly, to represent one's creative and/or intellectually rigorous contribution to hip-hop and the discourse through personal and academic projects. Personal projects of fellows may include manuscript projects, performance pieces, album work, curriculum planning, primary archival research, and exhibition preparation, among others."
The archive says the Nasir Jones fellowship "will provide selected scholars and artists with an opportunity to show that 'education is real power', as it builds upon the achievements of those who demonstrate exceptional capacity for productive scholarship and exceptional creative ability in the arts, in connection with hip-hop".
Gates said the fellowship was the result of a large endowment from an anonymous donor, who wanted Nas, best known for his 1994 debut album Illmatic , to front the scheme.
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