I'll take the rap, says Harvard professor

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The Independent US

Of all the various incarnations of rap music, Gangsta' rap,White rap or Speed rap, the latest is perhaps the most unlikely. Cornel West, a middle-aged, spectacle-wearing, very non-badass professor from Harvard University, may well have developed Academic rap. He even has his own CD.

"I don't fool myself and think I'm a hip-hopper or nothing,'' Mr West said. "The black musical tradition is the most precious tradition, and just to be a small part of it is a great honour.'' His co-artists on the Artemis Records label include hardcore rapper Kurupt, and the Baha Men, famous for the anthem "Who Let the Dogs Out".

Like many others before him, Mr West sees the music as a way to deliver a message of pride in oneself and black history to people who may not get into Harvard or read any of his many books.

Its content is also heavily Afro-centric; one song chastises blacks for the overuse of the N-word and another song talks about the degradation of black people.

Just how the professor's attempts have gone down with his students remains unclear. "It wasn't what I expected,'' said Nadine Adrien, 21, among 200 people who crammed into a Harvard forum to hear the professor's musical debut. "It was OK for a first try.''