Hip-Hop has a Home at Harvard University

By Chris Hassan
Posted September 21, 2013 10:00 AM

Hip-hop has a home at Harvard University.
Hip-hop has a home at Harvard University.

If fans of hip-hop have a desire to learn more about the history of this music genre, Harvard University probably isn't the first place they would go. However, the country's oldest academic institution just so happens to be home to The Hiphop Archive at Harvard University.

The Boston Globe reports that the archive will only gain more attention with the introduction of the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship, which takes its name from Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, the chart-topping rapper more commonly known as Nas.

Why Harvard?

When people think of Harvard University, hip-hop culture doesn't necessarily come to mind. However, Cambridge, Mass., is a more fitting location for a hip-hop archive than people may realize. Back in hip-hop's early days, Harvard was among the nation's "elite" schools to play rap music on its radio station, Marcyliena Morgan, the archive's founder and director, told the Globe.

In addition, a group of Harvard students founded The Source in the late 1980s. This periodical went on to become one of several mainstream music magazines dedicated to covering hip-hop. It also doesn't hurt that hip-hop and Harvard share a personality trait.

"Hip-hop has an incredible ego, and so does Harvard," Morgan told the Globe.

Honored to be a Part of History

Nas is no stranger to being honored for his talents as a rapper. The artist has been nominated for a slew of Grammy Awards, and has won BET Hip Hop Awards. However, having an opportunity to be a part of Harvard's legacy is one honor Nas couldn't foresee.

The rapper, who grew up in a housing project in Queens, never went to college. In fact, the idea of coming to Harvard has him overwhelmed.

"Where I come from, that just doesn't happen," Nas told the Globe. "At all."

In a press release, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, which the archive is a part of, said the institute's work will be enriched by the addition of the new fellowship. In the eyes of Gates, Jr., Nas is a "true visionary."

Not the Only Rapper

Whether hip-hop fans are pursuing a bachelor's degree or a master's degree at Harvard, knowing there is an archive on campus dedicated to this music genre is sure to be exciting. However, The Hiphop Archive is not the only place Harvard students can get their rap fix while at school. Jay-Z is one of several celebrities Anita Elberse, a professor at Harvard Business School, focuses on in her class, "Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries," according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

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