The College Dropout gets his doctorate! Kanye West received an honorary degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on Monday, May 11, where the rapper was greeted with laughter and genuine appreciation during his commencement speech.
“I am a pop artist,” West, 37, told the crowd inside the city’s Auditorium Theatre. “So my medium is public opinion and the world is my canvas. ‘I’m sorry’ is something that 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!'”
He then lightened the mood with a random anecdote. “George Bush has some very cool self portraits,” West said, transitioning to a more heartfelt portion of his speech. “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 going to make your lives easier,” he continued to the crowd. “Two reasons: You don’t have to defend me as much. And, I’m gonna make all of our lives easier.”
The My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy hitmaker listed his accomplishments. “It’s these Floyd Mayweather belts that are needed to prove what I’ve been saying my entire life!” he shared. “Where there’s the cosign of Paul McCartney grabbing me and saying, ‘It’s okay, he doesn’t like 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. When I went on that mission to create…. it would’ve been easier if I could’ve said, ‘I have a degree at the Art Institute of Chicago.’ Thank you.”
West’s wife Kim Kardashian marked the special occasion on Monday with a celebratory Instagram post. “Dr. Kanye West!!!!!!!” she wrote alongside a photo of West grinning in his cap and gown. “I’m so proud of you baby & I know your mom would be so proud too!!!!”
West’s late mother, Donda West, was the subject of Kanye’s 2005 song “Hey Mama.” She died unexpectedly in 2007, but West was able to honor his mom on Monday by fulfilling a promise he once made in the song.
In it, he rapped: “My mama told me go to school, get your doctorate / Somethin to fall back on, you could profit with / But still supported me when I did the opposite / Now I feel like it’s things I gotta get / Things I gotta do, just to prove to you.”
West famously dropped out of Chicago’s Academy of Art and then Chicago State after one semester, which prompted him to call his debut album The College Dropout.
Listen to his speech above!
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