StudyAdvantage Magazine

9 Hip Hop Artists You Didn’t Know Went to College

Published: November 11, 2016

In our “Where did they study?” article series we examine the educational resumes of timely & relevant figures in business, politics, technology, science, sports, arts and media.


#1. Ryan Leslie: Got a perfect SAT score at age 16. Graduated top of his class from Harvard at age 19. Beat that.

Hear wonder child Ryan brag about Harvard at c. 7 mins into this video at a Vienna nightclub:

Read Denis’ blog from Harvard, and check out the Harvard university profile.


#2. P Diddy: Attended Howard University to study Business for two years, before dropping out to…well, to become the one and only P Diddy.

Watch Mr. Combs return to his alma mater for the 2014 Commencement Speech:


#3. John Legend: He may be more of an R&B singer than a hip hop artist, but he did go to college. To UPenn in fact, and he graduated with an English degree before taking up a job at prestigious consulting firm BCG. He left after a short period of time to pursue his musical career.

Watch Mr. Legend at his recent alma mater commencement speech:

Read Helen’s or Jacob’s blog from UPenn, or check out the UPenn university profile.


#4. Common: One of hip hop’s most ‘socially aware’ rappers. Attended Florida A&M University on a scholarship to study Business.

Here he is in a recent and soulful performance at the White House:


#5. M.I.A.: English rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, director, visual artist, activist, photographer, fashion designer and model. Point is, M.I.A. is a lot more than just a hip hop designer. But she did go to university, and graduated on a scholarship from London’s prestigious art school Central Saint Martins. Apparently, her application was first rejected but she was then let in because she had such ‘chutzpah’ and forced her way in.

Here she is talking about her latest album AIM:


#6. J Cole: Graduated from high school with a GPA of 4.2 (yup, that’s more than the maximum 4.0). He attended St. John’s University in NYC and graduated magna cum laude. Well done J.

Watch him talk college here:


#7. Kanye West: Ok, so Kanye didn’t graduate, nor did he stay in college very long, as you would probably guess from album titles like Late Registration and indeed College Dropout. However, he did start college, first at the American Academy of Art and then at Chicago State University. His mother was an English professor, teaching at universities in Atlanta, Chicago, and in Nanjing, China (Kanye joined his mother there and learnt Chinese as a kid).

We all know Kanye is fond of ranting lecturing. Here he is doing so at Oxford University:

Check out Oxford’s university profile.


#8. Talib Kweli: Often considered the most lyrically talented rapper in the game, Talib attended New York University.

Listen to Talib’s (arguably) biggest hit ‘Get By’ below:

Read Malin’s, Alizey’s or Xiao’s blogs from NYU. And check out NYU’s university profile.


#9. Rick Ross: Went to Albany State University on a football scholarship before launching his recording empire Maybach Music Group, carrying artists like Wale and Meek Mill, in addition to The Boss himself.

Listen to his Suicide Squad featured track Purple Lamborghini here (viewer discretion advised):


What next? Read about How Michelle Obama and other celebrities lived at college.

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