Rap legend and Wu-Tang Clan member GZA will return to MIT’s campus in May to talk with students at the Cambridge university about his latest album, and how art and outer space collide.
GZA’s appearance will mark the third installment in an ongoing speaker series featuring hip-hop artists.
“This is really geared toward students to engender a conversation with popular artists who have a certain influence, and who have experience that other visiting artists don’t necessarily have,” said Sam Magee, manager of student programs at the Arts at MIT office.
Physics professor Christoph Paus will moderate GZA’s lecture to MIT students, Magee said, since the rapper’s latest album is titled “Dark Matter,” and encompasses aspects of space and time.
“GZA is coming in to talk specifically about how the arts and the study of physics intertwine,” Magee said.
GZA — a.k.a. the Genius — isn’t new to the school’s campus. The original Wu-Tang member stopped in Cambridge in 2012, to talk about chess, freestyle rapping, and the music that influenced his life.
Other rappers have come through as part of the series, which began unofficially last November, when a member of the MIT-based crowdfunding startup TapTape arranged to bring in recording artist Lil’ B to talk about how to build a personal brand online.
The lecture was such a success that other artists reached out to organizers so they could also tap into the brains of students.
“That’s when we had the idea and said, ‘let’s make this an official thing, and make this a series,’” said Christopher Nolte, a graduate student and co-founder of TapTape.
The startup teamed up with the Arts at MIT to continue the series in a more formal setting with professors from the school. Funding for the series comes from the Institute’s Center for Art, Science, and Technology.
Hip-hop star Killer Mike, of Run the Jewels fame, will present a lecture on April 24. He is scheduled to talk about how technology is affecting race relations in the United States.
“This isn’t just about ‘rapper X spoke at MIT,’” Nolte said. “We are trying to create interesting discussions based on what these artists care about.”
GZA’s talk will be the last of the series this academic year, but the program will pick up againwhen students return to campus in the fall.
Magee wouldn’t reveal who is on tap for the next series, but said organizers have reached out to artists who are right up there with the likes of GZA.
“Our students are eating it up. They love it,” Magee said.Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.