*Chance the Rapper and will.i.am have been tapped by separate universities to deliver words of wisdom for their 2018 commencement ceremonies.
Dillard University in New Orleans has recruited Chance to inspire more than 200 graduates at its 82nd Commencement ceremonies, to be held Saturday, May 12, at 8 a.m. on the campus’ historic Avenue of the Oaks.
Dillard President Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough says the Chicago emcee, born Chancelor Bennett, is part of a new wave of artists who can openly talk about faith while being in hip hop, balancing the secular and the sacred.
We are still celebrating! Can’t wait for #MyDU #2018 Commencement Sat., May 12, at 8 a.m. on The Oaks. And you’re invited! @chicagotribune @Suntimes @nytimes @washingtonpost @AP @NPR @nprmusic @whereyatnola @VibeMagazine @TheSource @BET @MTV @WBOK1230 @mypower1029 #DillardGrad18 pic.twitter.com/cmXTm0Ij5Q
— Dillard University (@du1869) April 6, 2018
In 2017, the 24-year-old’s independent project “Coloring Book” became the first streaming-only album to be nominated and win a Grammy.
“He’s not signed but a multiple Grammy winner,” Kimbrough said, noting that Bennett often gives away his music, movie tickets, Jordan-brand tennis shoes and awards to school teachers. “He’s the artist that your grandmother would love.”
Kimbrough, who’s known as the Hip-Hop Prez, teaches a class on ethics and hip-hop and has sought Chance to appear on campus for two years.
On the left coast, the first graduates of the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy at the University of Southern California will hear a commencement address from will.i.am, who “personifies the spirit of cross-disciplinary innovation and creativity, which is the essence of the Academy,” says Erica Muhl, dean and founding executive director of the school.
Iovine and Young (Dr. Dre), with their history of success as record producers, entrepreneurs (with Beats By Dre) and digital music pioneers (with Apple), endowed the academy in 2013 with a $70 million gift to USC in Los Angeles.
The first students enrolled in the fall of 2014 and will graduate May 11 with a unique bachelor of science of arts, technology and the business of innovation — a mix of disciplines that Iovine has called essential to industries of the future.
Will.i.am, a native of the working-class Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, was chosen as a speaker by the academy, in recognition of his work as a musician, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
“His drive to transform our world through his art, his support of groundbreaking technologies, and his philanthropic pursuits make him qualified to guide our first graduating class as they begin their own, individual, creative journeys,” says Muhl.
The Black Eyed Peas co-founder has worked as an advisor with technology and consumer products companies worldwide, including the mobile record company Amuse; Atom Bank, the U.K.’s first mobile-based bank; the Coca-Cola Company; and Intel and Beats Electronics, where he was a founding equity shareholder.