In July of last year, it was announced that "The Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship" would be established to fund scholars and artists who demonstrate exceptional, productive scholarship and creative ability in the arts as they relate to Hip Hop. In a recent video on ammunitiongroup.com, the fellowship was profiled in an interview with several figures, including Nas.
A lot of people would think, 'Oh, it's just music,'" Said Nas. "'Oh, it's too vulgar, it's too this or that,' but that music represents the world. That music represents our youth. So when you don't pay attention to it, you kinda missing out on your youth. The same youth that you wanna protect, you need to understand them by understanding the music they listen to."
Marcyliena Morgan, the director of the Hip Hop Archive at Harvard, explained what she believes is the essence of Hip Hop culture. "The heart of Hip Hop is the critique," she said. "It's about, are you working at the highest possible level? It's about practicing. You can't be a Hip Hop artist without a lot of practice. Hip Hop really does redesign what the notion is. So your competition is with yourself; it's with others. But it's not about just you, which is very much what happens in the academy. It's about your contribution to the world as well."
Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. provided his perspective on Hip Hop culture as well. "I would think the takeaways from ... Hip Hop would be the values of and the possibilities for entrepreneurship," he said. "I don't think there's been a period, a cultural movement, or an art form that so specifically nurtures and encourages people that are economically disenfranchised. The extension of the American Dream through economic freedom, ambition, individual will, through the model of Hip Hop, is certainly something that I hope will be stressed in its most positive way."
Nas spoke about his hopes for the program's message. "Hip Hop represents fast life, for the most part," said the Queens emcee. "So, hopefully they see there's a slow-down period, and there's more to it than just running fast. It's a marathon. You see Harvard and Hip Hop together, I hope that it says something to younger mes out there. I hope it speaks to them, like, there's more to the future than what we're racing to. Hopefully, this gives hope on an educational level.
Watch the profile below:
Nas spoke about the fellowship in November of last year. "Hip Hop is important like computer science," Nas said at the time. "The world is changing. If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what's happening right underneath your nose."