Kanye West Goes From College Dropout To Graduation, As Honorary Degree Recipient

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Less than a dozen years ago, Kanye West self-identified as The College Dropout. Today, the music/pop culture superstar has a higher education diploma in hand. Mr. West  received an honor doctoral degree in Fine Arts today (May 11) from the School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago.

‘Ye was on hand (and in cap-and-gown) to receive his degree. With the moment, Mr. West—(now Dr. West) addressed graduates at the art institute’s commencement speech. The affair comes one day after Kanye lectured to students at the university for nearly one hour.

“I am a pop artist. My medium is public opinion, and the world is my canvas,” said West at the podium, moments after receiving his diploma publicly. In the late ’90s, ‘Ye reportedly earned a scholarship to Chicago’s American Academy of Art. He would later transfer to Chicago State University, before withdrawing to pursue his music career. This period in life was a focal point of the MC/producer’s debut solo album, 2004’s The College Dropout. Reflecting on how a lack of college degree has hindered his life to this point, he told grads, “When I went on [my] mission to create in other spaces apparel, film, performance it would have been easier if I could have said I had a degree at the Art Institute of Chicago.”

The speech and ceremony were filmed, and subtitled:

Yesterday’s SAIC speech (May 10) found Kanye West taking questions, and speaking on his journey through creativity, spanning multiple mediums. Music Heads, or fans of Kanye’s earliest work, may take interest in this quote:

…with ‘Backpack Rap,’ there was always this responsibility that we felt to our parents, our ancestors, and to our generation at that time, to use our platform of the drum to educate with it. We took it as a responsibility, more than the responsibility of personal wealth, and I think that was the beginning—first notes—of any Steve Jobs comparison. Before I even knew to have the audacity to compare myself to Steve Jobs—There was uh, that idea of the fans and the backpack, the mix of the information, responsibility to my parents who were educators, and the understanding that it had to be a bit dumbed down, accessible in a way.

The entire audio and raw transcript of the May 10 lecture is available at Complex.

Given how much Kanye West has been an advocate for art and creative spaces, how much do you feel this token transcends his profile?

Related: Kanye West Reportedly Joins Puff Daddy’s Hitmen