Nas recently paid a visit to Harvard’s Cambridge Building, home of the W.E.B. DuBois Research Institute for African-American Studies, to unveil The Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship – the scholarship dedicated to funding research and hip-hop related courses for visiting scholars to the university. The award was funded by an anonymous donor who selected Nas to be the face of the program. According to Rolling Stone, Nas responded immediately to the request issued by Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates. Gates detailed the importance of the program in conversation with Nas and the founder of The Hip-Hop Archive & Research Institute at Harvard, Marcyliena Morgan:
Gates, the host of PBS’ current historical series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, said that serious study of hip-hop is critical at a time when black Americans are experiencing “the best of times and the worst of times.” In the post-affirmative action era, he said, “we’re still fighting the structural causes of poverty and racism . . . To a great extent, we have to save ourselves. And that’s the message I get from your work,” he said, turning to face Nas.
Nas supported Gates’ sentiments, with his own commentary on the importance of the culture:
“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.”
Learn more about the fellowship and the Hip-Hop Archive at Harvard.edu.
Spotted at RS