This past July it was announced that Nas would be the face of a new Harvard fellowship at the prestigious university’s Hip-Hop Archive, and yesterday the rapper and the school held an event to formally introduce the partnership.
The Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship was made possibly via an anonymous donor, according to Rolling Stone, who contributed and wanted Nas to be the figurehead of the program. The fellowship is designed to help pay for research for visiting scholars pursuing hip-hop related studies, as well as for hip-hop related classes and other programs.
“I said no to a lot of things in my twenties,” said Nas, explaining why he accepted this opportunity to have his name on a Harvard fellowship. “In the beginning, I was a fighter. I’m always going to be a fighter, but I fight differently, for different reasons, today.”
The fellowship was facilitated by professor Henry Louis Gates, who emailed Nas with the request. “We’re still fighting the structural causes of poverty and racism,” Gates said at the event, adding that black Americans are facing the “best of times and the worst of times” in this country at the moment. “To a great extent, we have to save ourselves. And that’s the message I get from your [Nas'] work.”
“Hip-hop is important like computer science,” he Nas added. “The world is changing. If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what’s happening right underneath your nose.”