7 Rappers Who Have Received Honorary Degrees

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rappers with honorary degrees
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Throughout the years, rappers have been highlighted for their contributions to entertainment and the global impact of their careers.

Various universities and colleges have recognized rappers for their contributions to music and culture, as well as their activism, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship. Each has significantly impacted hip-hop, paving the way for future generations of artists. Cultural influencers like Diddy, KRS-One, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, and Queen Latifah would go on to be recognized by higher education officials.

An honorary degree is also a significant achievement recognizing their dedication and contributions to society. It also inspires young people interested in pursuing a music or art career, showing them that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance. While this list is not exhaustive, we've pulled together seven names in hip-hop who have been bestowed with honorary degrees. The acknowledgment speaks to just how powerful music's movement can be and how many doors it can open.

Diddy: Howard University

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: Sean Combs, who received an honorary degree, processes out after Howard University's commencement ceremonies have conclude on May, 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Sean "Diddy" Combs received an honorary doctorate from Howard University in 2014 for his ongoing contributions to entertainment. The media mogul has also employed thousands through various companies and branding, but his philanthropic work stole attention. The New York native is known to give back to the communities that helped raise him. Those efforts did not go unrecognized.

Further, Diddy has strongly advocated education, establishing a scholarship fund to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds who aspire to attend college. In 2016, Diddy announced that he would donate $1 million to Howard University, his alma mater, to establish the Sean Combs Scholarship Fund. The donation is reportedly the largest in the university's history. It has helped to provide greater access to higher education for students from underprivileged communities.

LL Cool J: Harvard University

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Host LL Cool J speaks onstage during The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

LL Cool J, a hip-hop pioneer, received an honorary degree from Harvard University in 2018. He started his career in the 1980s and later branched out into acting and entrepreneurship. His trophy room may be pouring over with awards, including several Grammys, but his social justice and philanthropy efforts are what warmed hearts. He is a strong supporter of the American Cancer Society, especially as his wife endured her battle with breast cancer. LL Cool J has also worked to raise awareness about the importance of early cancer detection. Additionally, the rap icon has been involved in various initiatives to promote education and fight poverty in disadvantaged communities.

Kendrick Lamar: University of Hartford

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Recording artist Kendrick Lamar performs on stage during the Coca-Cola Music Mix at the NCAA March Madness Music Festival Day 2 at Discovery Green on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Turner)

Kendrick Lamar is considered a leading voice in contemporary hip-hop spaces. The Los Angeles native shines a light on the lives of the marginalized and disadvantaged, even earning himself a Pulitzer. His innovative production, fusion of genres, socially conscious lyrics, and unique style set him apart from his contemporaries. It's no wonder that in 2018, the University of Hartford in Connecticut awarded him an honorary degree.

In addition to his music, Lamar has been involved in various social justice initiatives. He has used his platform to raise awareness about police brutality, systemic racism, and inequality. His music has also been celebrated for its ability to address these issues meaningfully and powerfully. He's hailed as a role model for young people passionate about social justice.

Missy Elliott: Berklee College Of Music

Missy Elliott is arguably one of the most beloved talents in the industry. She received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2019, and it didn't come as a surprise. Missy has a longstanding influence in entertainment. When she isn't topping the charts, she's helping a new generation of creatives find their footing. She's been hailed as a GOAT in music, but her socially conscious efforts haven't gone unnoticed.

Queen Latifah: Rutgers University

From the onset of her career, Queen Latifah has dominated. Her music videos stunned young girls around the globe as the rapper was a commanding force, often surrounded by street bikes and crew primarily made of men. She is a hip-hop pioneer unlike any other, demanding that the world refers to her as "queen." Outside of winning Grammys and storming hip hop, Dana Owens developed a lucrative acting career that has continued until now.

Queen Latifah has always used her platform to advocate for the disadvantaged, especially about issues involving Black women. She has also been involved with the Lancelot H. Owens Scholarship Foundation, which provides financial assistance to students who want to pursue higher education.

Chuck D: Adelphi University

NEW YORK - August 25: Public Enemy front man Chuck D poses for a portrait in his hometown of Roosevelt on August 25, 1999 in Long Island, New York. (Photo by Karjean Levine/Getty Images)

Chuck D, one of the frontmen for the legendary hip-hop collective Public Enemy, received an honorary doctorate from Adelphi University in New York in 2014. His work on the fronts of activism, education, and sharing the lesser-taught facts of Black history has made him an admirable figure. He has been involved in various initiatives to promote equality and fight systemic racism, including the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ice Cube: University Of Southern California

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 27: Rapper Ice Cube performs onstage during the Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock concert at Staples Center on June 27, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)

Los Angeles icon Ice Cube has been actively involved in entertainment since his NWA days in the 1980s. He has gone from being perceived as a rapper with a chip on his shoulder to an actor who has starred in family-friendly films. Additionally, Cube has long spoken out about the plight of his community. This was made evident in his fight against systemic racism with his proposed Contract with Black America initiative.


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