The album, titled Liminal Minds, was written over the course of a year and focuses on racial issues that black Americans face.
On the 10-song album, Shaw raps about everything from the use of the N-word to police brutality. His storytelling method follows the style of the Canterbury Tales (AKA, an English major's bible) by Geoffrey Chaucer.
The album blew up after Harvard posted about it on the university's official Instagram page. At the time of publication, Liminal Minds has at least 250,000 plays.
Shaw Says The Praise He's Received Was Unexpected
He tells Elite Daily,
It's been disorienting because I just submitted it as my thesis. I just didn't expect anything to come of it. I had been sharing it with friends. No more than 100 people had heard it.
Prior to the Harvard Instagram boost, he had performed songs from Liminal Minds at the university's senior talent show and a few open mics.
Shaw Received An A On His Thesis
But he's also getting decent grades from the public.
One listener even asked to buy his album...which is free.
A Rep From Janelle Monáe's Wondaland Records Label Has Also Reached Out To The Georgia Native
If You'd Like To Rap Along, His Lyrics Are On Rap Genius.
The Success Of His First Album Has Shaw Thinking About A Career In Music
I've always been planning to continue to write and do more projects, but it's always been a hobby. I never knew that anybody would listen to anything I ever put out. Now knowing that there's lots of people listening and lots of people liking it, it does change things.
Now, Days Before Graduation, He Has A New Goal:
Shaw is an unsigned artist, much like his favorite hip-hop musician, Chance The Rapper. He hopes to chat with Chance The Rapper when he visits the Harvard Athletic Complex for the Boston Calling Music Festival on Friday.
A couple of people have reached out to me and I don't now if I want to sign. [Chance] is my favorite rapper and I really appreciate how he does music. He releases it for free and is just changing the game in a lot of ways. I want to hear his perspective on what he thinks is the best way to move forward.
On another note, even if he doesn't score one-on-one time with his favorite rapper, this entire moment deserves all of the kudos.
Hip-hop -- a genre critics thought would die in its infant stages -- that was created by African-Americans as a means of coping with their daily lives, has just made a ground-breaking splash at Harvard University.
Now that's how you graduate from college with a bang.
Chance, call this young man!