Dr. Kanye West’s Humble Commencement Speech Will Surprise You

May 12, 2015 at 12:45 pm |
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Kanye West Receives Honorary Doctoral from The Art Institute of Chicago

Let’s be honest – everyone was waiting with bated breath to see if Kanye West would do something stupid during the graduation ceremony at the Art Institute of Chicago yesterday. The rapper/designer/business mogul/loudspeaker and all-around-social-media social experiment was being honored by the school with an honorary doctorate degree. But to be fair, we’re so used to watching Kanye ruin the moment for other people, rather than respectfully marking the moment. However, the newly crowned Dr. West was arrestingly humble – he was quiet, he was self-aware, and dare we say, very nervous.

But why did they give him a doctorate?

Kanye West mentioned in a recent interview while discussing his upbringing in Chicago that he’d wished he had attended The Art Institute of Chicago, which was noted by the current dean of faculty who took the statement as an opportunity to promote the school, honor the rapper, and surely gain West’s “favor” in return. Smart dean.

West sat still for the the 90-minute ceremony with reverence of a 9-year-old attending mass with his Nana – and he definitely didn’t jump out of his seat to claim the salutatorian award in Beyoncé’s name. When he did stand up to speak, he approached the podium with respect due to each and every hard working student to whom he was speaking. He chatted about George Bush’s love for art and he chatted about the “nerves of humility and honesty” pumping through him while receiving the honor. Then he commented on why he was receiving the degree.

“This honor is going to make your lives easier,” Kanye said. “Two reasons: you don’t have to defend me as much… and I’m gonna make all of our lives easier… When I was giving a lecture at Oxford, I brought up this school because when I went out on that mission to create other spaces — apparel, film, performance — it would’ve been easier if I could have said I had a degree at the Art Institute of Chicago.”

While the media has had a heyday with Kanye (namely calling him out for his consistently inappropriate behavior), here is an opportunity to pat him on the back for revealing a side of his personality that we’re not used to seeing. Whether or not he wrote his own speech or if he sent those graduates off into the world with shiny nuggets of deep wisdom, he still proved that no matter what opinion people have developed of you over time, you’ll still always have the opportunity to prove them wrong.

Kanye West received his honorary doctoral in Chicago with grace and humility. Surprised?