Why are ASAP Rocky and Stormzy the talk of Oxford? | University of Oxford
ASAP Rocky
ASAP Rocky's freestyle rap at the Oxford Union has gone viral

Why are ASAP Rocky and Stormzy the talk of Oxford?

Most hip hop promoters could only dream of signing ASAP Rocky and Stormzy.

But last week, they were both in the headlines for stories involving Oxford University.

On Monday, grime artist Stormzy helped one of our students reach her goal of studying for a master’s at Harvard University by donating £9,000 to her crowdfunding page.

Fiona Asiedu, a final-year Experimental Psychology student at New College, says she was “completely overwhelmed” when she saw the donation and that it will be “life-changing” for her.

She met the musician when he visited Oxford’s African and Carribean Society last year, and has promised to thank him by taking him for dinner at Nando’s.

She is now hoping to put any extra money she raises to provide financial support for black British students from low-income backgrounds who gain places at Oxford and Harvard.

The next day, our Twitter mentions blew up after a talk by rapper ASAP Rocky went viral.

Rocky spoke to the Oxford Union back in June 2015 and last week, nearly two years later, a freestyle rap he performed during the lecture was shared online thousands of times.

Part of the reason why both of these stories have been so popular is that people are surprised that these artists would visit Oxford University, which is well-known for its world-leading choirs and classical musicians.

But many people living and studying in Oxford are not surprised – musical tastes and even the University’s music curriculum are changing all the time.

Since 2012, Oxford University has offered a course on global hip hop to first-year undergraduates at Oxford University. To date, nearly 400 students have passed the course.

Earlier this year, the Race and Resistance Programme in The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) hosted a lecture about the cultural value of hip hop.

The lecture hall was full as participants including a professor from Harvard University’s Hiphop Archive and Research Institute discussed the significance of hip hop’s rising popularity.

In his speech, ASAP Rocky said he was pleasantly surprised by what he found in Oxford.

‘‘When I was coming here, I expected to see a bunch of stiff, fancy schmancy people,’ he said.

‘You guys are fancy but you’re not stiff, you’re cool. To come to Oxford and to be walking around and you see people looking like hipsters, you see people who like hip hop, you see people who look kind of regular, who look like they don’t really care about what they wear.

‘It’s really diverse, and it shows the progress, man.’

We cannot confirm the rumour that ASAP Rocky is a devoted reader of Oxford University’s Arts Blog – possibly because we have only just started that rumour.

But in case Rocky is spending his Monday morning browsing this page, we want him to know he is welcome back here any time he wants.