By Jordannah Elizabeth
Special to the NNPA from The New York Amsterdam News
Legendary hip-hop lyricist and poet Nas has been chosen to become the face of a new Hip-Hop Fellowship that was founded and developed at Harvard University earlier this year. The Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship is a new program that was funded by an anonymous donor, and at the request of this generous and forward thinking person, Nas was selected as the focal point and face of the program.
As reported by The New York Times’ Art Beat Blog, Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute for African-American Studies, and Harvard University approached another board member about sponsoring a fellowship. Gates expressed that the donor wanted Nas’ name to be at the masthead of the program.
Recently, Nas traveled to the Cambridge, Mass.-based university to formally give his blessing and instate the program. He reportedly took the opportunity with very little hesitation.
Jones told Rolling Stone, “I said ‘no’ to a lot of things in my 20s. In the beginning, I was a fighter. I’m always going to be a fighter, but I fight differently, for different reasons, today.”
The founder of the Hip-Hop Archive and Research Institute, which is a program that sits under the umbrella of the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute for African American Studies and Harvard University, told The New York Times, “The main purpose of the fellowship is to support people doing work that has to do with the ways hip-hop itself reaches out to youth through the world, and particularly how it brings together issues of social justice, art and politics. That relationship—and how difficult it can be—is an important aspect of what we’re looking at. Hip-hop has been a way of getting the word out in very difficult situations.”
The vision for the fellowship and the application process has just begun, according to Morgan. The program will choose two applicants to engage in comprehensive research of the hip-hop genre.
This is a great stride in African American culture, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute for African-American Studies and Harvard University have taken a great strides to research and preserve one of the most important artistic staples of African-American culture. Nas, son of jazz musician Olu Dara, carries a legacy of musical and artistic excellence. Nas told Rolling Stone, “Hip-hop is important like computer science… The world is changing. If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what’s happening right underneath your nose.”