Lupe Fiasco to teach at MIT: "Rap is a Lossless Data Compression Algorithm"

In this extensive interview with Okay Player, Lupe Fiasco discusses his most recent album, Drill Music in Zion, the criminalization of HipHop, technology, science, and the humanities, and his relationship with other rappers.

One of the projects Fiasco is preparing for is a university class he will teach as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor and Scholar Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

"It's still in process. I can say this with certainty: it's only available to MIT students. MIT has a relationship with Harvard, MassArt and Wellesley College, where students from those other three schools are able to take the course, too. It starts in the Spring of 2023 and it will be Rap Theory and Practice."

"There's a lot of things that I have personal experience on, things that I think about in rap… They're not gonna have this conversation or lesson on the Okayplayer boards. It's talking about, like, "What is the relationship between rap and biology?" We're not talking about Biggie Smalls, we're not just talking about the entertainment side or the culture side of it, it's like, "How is rap informed by astrophysics?" We've done rapping, we've done freestyles, we've done shows, we did a club walkthrough, we made some money, we bought a Rolex, we did all of that stuff, but there's still lingering questions and paths that I want to explore with the student body as well as with the faculty."

In this interview with Xapiens, "Lupe Fiasco's MIT: Academic Rap," the MIT visiting professor gives insight into his pedagogical and curricular approach, i.e., the how, what, and why of teaching and learning.It is a bit under 2.5 hours long. Below is a timestamp with the themes Fiasco covers, a syllabus so to speak, so your listening can be more intentional and detailed. The entire presentation is worth engaging.


00:00 – Rap is a Lossless Data Compression Algorithm

2:20 – Lupe's Upcoming Year at MIT – Class and Research

6:20 – Evolution & Rap Mechanics

31:35 – Teaching Rap and Rap Technology

48:04 – Explicit and Implicit Benefits Between Rap and Hard Sciences

1:00:20 – Merging Rap and Institutions

1:05:52 – Rap Degree from MIT

1:10:40 – Importance of Rap at MIT, not Berklee

1:22:34 – Fundamental Laws of Rap

1:27:13 – Rap as a Lossless Data Compression Algorithm

1:31:28 – Rapping with Emojis

1:42:55 – Lupe's Language Fluidity

1:53:24 – Reassess Your Constraints to Be Better than Lupe

2:02:12 – Makings of a Rap Grandmaster

2:11:05 – Citation and Conservatory Mechanisms for Rap

2:17:20 – Cuz I Love It

"The Xapiens Podcast, hosted by two MIT Nuclear Physics PhD students, explores the bleeding edge ideas spanning biology, physics, chemistry, and computer science that mark our road to the future. Hear from experts in the field about the fundamental particles that make up the universe, revolutionary interfaces to the brain, and new technology that can change the way we interact with our futures."

Check out this Pitchfork review of Drill Music in Zion.