Stormzy Tackles Race and Sexism In Oxford University Lecture

It’s a shame I have finished college, not because I love homework and studying, but because every now and then institutions like MIT, Rice University, Fresno State, Harvard and Oxford have rappers come in for guest lectures. (Wayne State is hardly on that prestigious list but still, they might have come to my college).

The latest in the acclaimed list of rappers is UK grime MC Stormzy, who spoke at Oxford University today. “It’s an honour to be asked to speak at such a prestigious establishment. In school, all my teachers and my mum were super rooting for me to study at Oxford, I picked music as a career choice and this didn’t sit too well with them!” Stormzy said prior to his lecture. “So to be asked to come down and speak to the students there is a true tale of destiny giving you the right cards.”

Stormzy took the chance during his forum to discuss prevalent issues in hip-hop and grime. He discussed sexism in grime music – and someone in the audience reportedly told him that in terms of misogyny “compared to a lot of artists you are not that bad.”

Stormzy then went on to discuss #BritsSoWhite, a similar outcry over the lack of racial diversity in the British music awards to the Oscars. The hashtag #BritsSoWhite emerged because there were few nominations for musicians in the U.K. such as Stormzy, who said “It’s not a race issue, it’s more of a problem with diversity of the voting panel.”

Keeping to the race theme, Stormzy took some time to talk about his usage of the N word in his music: “It’s horrible, it’s disgusting, but I’m the worst. I don’t even wanna do a N word count in my lyrics. I’m trying to stop. It’s not cool.”

The whole speech can be listened to here.

Stormzy joins an ever growing list of rappers guest lecturing at universities, including Kanye West who spoke at the same esteemed university last year. Other rapper lectures have been: Killer Mike, KRS-One, Lil B, Bun B, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Chance the Rapper, and now it seems the UK is catching on.

It’s an amazing contrast of worlds having rappers lecture in universities. University lecturers typically have X degree, have studied X amount of hours, published X amount of papers, written a thesis or two, and whatever else is needed to teach and inspire the next generation, who in turn will help to move the world forward. Rappers, on the other hand, seldom have higher education, yet are arguably just as responsible for teaching and inspiring the next generation.

Rappers and artists alike are the voice of many: they are social activists, they are leaders, they are the modern day poets, and they have the means to be heard. So why shouldn’t they guest lecture at as many universities as they can? Why not hold poetry seminars? I am not saying they should run for President (Kanye…) but they should help out more in places where they might not have had the same opportunities, like higher education.

I believe the list of rappers as guest lecturers at universities will only increase from here (as long as Trump is not voted in). My only call to action is that rappers consider all universities and not turn down reasonable requests from non prestigious schools.

Image: Getty Images