Common Awarded Honorary Doctorate Degree By Winston-Salem State

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

For hip-hop fans, Common's intelligence and artistic skill speak for themselves. The MC/actor/writer/philanthropist did get a bit of outside validation, however, on Friday in the form of an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. Common also presented the commencement speech for the University's 2015 graduates, and in his remarks stressed the importance of determination and faith in one's self.

Before being handed his new PhD, Common was commended by WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson for having "created the common ground foundation using hte arts to encourage leadership and creativity." Robinson stressed that Common's work "epitomizes, for all of us, the power of the creative arts to impact the individual so that he can transform society for the better." The visibly moved Chicago rapper accepted the award and degree, admitting it was one of the best days of his life.

"You want to surround yourself with people who believe in your path," Common said at the graduation. His inspirational commencement speech lasted approximately 27 minutes, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. "Belief is contagious," Common said. "As you climb up the mountain, it will be difficult at times."

Common's honorary doctorate comes after his fellow Chi-town rapper and sometimes-collaborator Kanye West was awarded a PhD in Fine Arts from the School Of the Art Institute of Chicago last week. Watch Common--who himself dropped out of college before devoting his life to music--accept his degree below.