College Dropout Kanye West Receives Honorary PhD


After delivering a long lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago yesterday, rapper Kanye West received his honorary doctorate from one of the most prestigious art schools in the country.

Though not everyone agrees that West deserves a PhD, SAIC explained to Complex that the honorary doctorate is given to “influential individuals” who earned “this distinguished award through their work, which is always imaginative and aesthetically rich, and sometimes also provocative and controversial, shifting the cultural landscape in significant ways.”

And that’s not all. The recipients are regarded as “remarkable examples of creative success and determination, who are often inspirations to our students, faculty, and entire SAIC community.”

While receiving the honorary PhD, West gave a short speech in which he talked about the significance of this degree and how much it would have helped his other endeavors in art, film and fashion.

Here’s his entire speech:

“I’m sorry, that’s just my opinion. I am a pop artist. So my medium is public opinion, and the world is my canvas. ‘I’m sorry’ is something you can use a lot, it gives you the opportunity to give your opinion, apologize for it, and give your opinion again. People say, ‘You should not be sorry for your opinions.’ George Bush…has some very cool self-portraits [laughs]. I didn’t know he was an artist. I felt my nerves a bit, and I don’t feel that feeling a lot. The nerves of humility and modesty when being honored. A humanization, a reality of being recognized, and all I thought as I sit here, kind of shaking a little bit, is I need to get rid of that feeling. I need to not be nervous.

This honor is gonna make your lives easier. Two reasons: You don’t have to defend me as much and I’m gonna make all of our lives easier. And it’s these Floyd Mayweather belts that are needed to prove what I’ve been saying my entire life. Whether it’s the co-sign of Paul McCartney grabbing me and saying, ‘It’s OK, he doesn’t bite white people.’ Or The New York Times cover, or the Time Most Influential cover, and now a doctorate at the Art Institute of Chicago. When I was giving a lecture at Oxford, I brought up this school because when I went on that mission to create in other spaces—apparel, film, performance—it would’ve been easier if I could’ve said, ‘I had a degree at the Art Institute of Chicago” [laughs]. Thank you.”

Watch the full speech below:

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