Due to the heavy street influence of the rap genre, it’s easy to get the perception that all rappers are high school and college dropouts. But that’s not the case at all – there are more than a handful of rappers who have reputable college degrees to their names. Here are 10 of them below:
Originally hailing from North Carolina, J.Cole is one of the young, shining stars on the rap scene right now. He is signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label and he also has his own imprint, Dreamville Records. To date, he has released two successful albums, Cole World: The Sideline Story and Born Sinner. J.Cole is also a proud college graduate. He attended St. Johns University in NYC on a basketball and academic scholarship, and he graduated from college with degrees in Communication and Business. Even more impressively, he graduated magna cum laude.
Christopher ‘Ludacris” Bridges is an extremely talented rapper with 8 albums to his name already. He has had several #1 Hits and he’s also a talented actor as well. He has appeared in critically acclaimed, top-grossing movies like Crash and Fast and the Furious. Luda was born and bred in Atlanta , Georgia and before hitting it big in rap music, he attended Georgia State University and earned a degree in Music Management.
Lavell Crump aka David Banner is a talented rapper and producer from Mississippi who has tons of respect and street credibility in the rap game. Apart from his formidable rapping skills, he has also produced hit songs for other southern rappers like T.I. Banner is also a dedicated academic. He graduated from Southern University with a degree in business. And even while he was in college, he served as president of the Student Governor Association. He even attempted to pursue a master’s degree in education at the University of Maryland, but he chose to pursue his music full-time instead.
Rapper Chuck D is definitely one of the elder statesmen of the Hip-Hop community. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, his group Public Enemy (which included the colorful personality, Flavor Flav) was one of the biggest acts around. The music from Public Enemy had strong political and cultural empowerment themes and it’s very different from the rap music that exists today. Chuck D also happens to be a college graduate – he matriculated from Adelphi University with a degree in Graphic Design.
Ryan Leslie is certainly one of the major braniacs of the rapping community. Not only is he an accomplished singer and rapper, but he has also created hits for artists like Beyonce, Kanye West and even Britney Spears. He has a huge online following and he’s very popular overseas too. With regards to his college life, Leslie graduated from the highly revered Harvard University at the age of 19 with a degree in government and a concentration on macroeconomics. At his graduation ceremony at Harvard, he was even chosen to be the Harvard Male Orator by the graduating class.
The rapper Phonte is part of the Hip-Hop trio named Lil’ Brother who had a nice run in the rap game from about 2002-07. He’s originally from North Carolina and he met the members of his future rap crew 9th Wonder and Big Pooh while attending college at North Carolina Central University. The other two members of his rap group would eventually drop out, but Mr. Phonte would persevere and graduate with honors with an English degree.
Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli is no stranger to fans of true Hip-Hop. In the late 90s and early years of 2000, he was part of a group named Black Star which also included the talented wordsmith Mos Def. Kweli happens to be the son of two educators; his mother is an English professor and his Dad is a university administrator. His parents definitely instilled a love for knowledge and learning in their son and Kweli himself has a degree in experimental theater from New York University.
The Hip-Hop biosphere features all kinds and Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino might just be one of the talented and unique rappers in the genre today. He is an accomplished television writer who used to write for the sharp and smart comedy 30 Rock, and he went on to star in another popular sitcom, Community. Glover is also a very skilled rapper and he has created some really good songs with respected artists like Beck and The Rza. With all these accolades, we weren’t surprised to find out that Glover holds a dramatic writing degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
The last few years have been great for the indie singer and rapper Aloe Blacc. For the majority of his career, he only had a small underground following but the floodgates blew open when he recorded the theme song “I Need A Dollar” for the HBO series How To Make It in America. Since then, he has gone to have huge hits like “Wake Me Up” produced by Avicii and “The Man” which recently performed on the Ellen Show. Aloe actually holds an impressive dual degree in both linguistics and psychology from USC.
In the realm of international rap stars, few names are bigger than M.I.A. She has had ubiquitous #1 hits like “Paper Planes,” she has worked with Madonna, and was also featured on the song “Swagger Like Us” alongside T.I., Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne. She has sold millions of records worldwide, but before she blew up, she earned a degree in fine art, film and video from London’s Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design.