| Lists |

Five Rappers You Didn't Know Had College Degrees

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Myth: The ability to string rhymes together automatically kills brain cells, thereby making it impossible for said stringer of rhymes to obtain a college degree.

Fact: Many of your favorite hip-hoppers are college graduates with funny-sounding honorary titles.

Myth: Street education is a prerequisite for success in rap.

Fact: College education helped rappers like Ludacris and J.Cole land careers in music. Here are five rappers with college degrees, and five others with some level of college education.

5. J. COLE

College: St. John's University

Major: Communications

If it seems that J. Cole is always alluding to college in his rhymes, it's because he spent some time at one. After graduating from Fayetteville's Terry Sanford High School in 2003, the North Carolina MC moved to the Big Apple in pursuit of a college education. Cole attended New York's St. John's University on an academic scholarship.

Rapping on the side and writing full-time, J. Cole graduated Magna cum Laude with a major in communication and a minor in business. He would go on to become the first artist inked to Jay-Z's Roc Nation.


College: North Carolina Central University

Major: English

Phonte of Little Brother met his would-be cohorts Rapper Big Pooh and 9th Wonder in 1998, while taking classes at North Carolina Central University.

The group was known as Speed back then, but later switched to Little Brother. While his friends dropped out of college, Tay went on to obtain graduate with Magna Cum Laude honors.


College: Georgia State University

Major: Music Management

The lyrics to Luda's "Tell It Like It Is" - "Start up ya own company, trademark the name/ That's gon' run ya bout a grand so start savin' ya change" - sounds like a lesson in Music Business 101. Maybe that's because Ludacris majored in Music Management at Georgia State University.

The ATL rapper scored an internship at the radio station Hot 107.9 where he later held down on-air hosting gig under the moniker Chris Lova Lova. That Music Management degree came in hand when the Ludameister took his own advice and launched the label Disturbing tha Peace in 2000.


College: Adelphi University

Major: Graphic Design

What do Pulitzer Prize winners Jonathan Larson, Paul Moravec, and Chuck D have in common? All three graduated from Adelphi University's arts program. Chuck is also literally married to education; his wife is an assistant professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The hip-hop great is also a board member of the TransAfrica Forum, a Pan African organization that works for the right of Africa, Caribbean and Latin American issues.


College: Southern University

Major: Business

David Banner not only obtained a business degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., he was an active college student. Banner served as president of his school's Student Government Association. He put that experience to use when he was tapped to defend hip-hop at U.S. congressional hearing.

Banner also enrolled in the University of Maryland's master's in education program, but dropped out to pursue music.


Paul Wall: The Houston rapper studied mass communications at the University of Houston for three years.

Common: The Chicago MC (Sarah Palin's favorite!) majored in business at Florida A&M University for two years under an academic scholarship.

Ice Cube: Cube briefly studied architectural drafting at the Phoenix Institute of Technology in the late 1980s.

Plies: Plies played football at wide receiver while attending Miami University in 1996. In his sophomore year, he caught 25 passes for 262 yards and scored 2 TDs. He later transferred to the University of Central Florida before dropping out to pursue a music career.

Lil Wayne: After obtaining his GED, Lil Wayne attended the University of Houston as a psychology major. He later transferred to the University of Phoenix, where he's currently taking classes online.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.