The world’s most famous college dropout has finally received his degree.
On Tuesday afternoon, Kanye West was given an honorary doctoral degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The hip-hop mogul attended both the American Academy of Art and Chicago State University for brief periods, but left at 20 years old to pursue music.
Dressed in a black cap and gown, the 37-year-old Chicago native accepted the honor by first removing the water bottles from the podium.
“I'm sorry, that was just my opinion,” he told the professors and students in the auditorium.
“I am a pop artist so my medium is public opinion and the world is my canvas,” he continued.
“George Bush…” he trailed off before the crowd erupted in laughter. “Has some very cool self-portraits. I didn't know he was an artist.”
The Chicago native, who has won numerous accolades and sold out arenas worldwide, admitted to being nervous.Thank you SAIC… This is my greatest honor to date and would have been my mother - Dr. West’s - proudest moment. pic.twitter.com/UmbmkJDHhq— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 12, 2015
“I felt my nerves a bit, and I don't feel that feeling a lot—the nerves of humility and modesty, when being honored. A humanization, a reality of being recognized.”
He made a promise to the crowd. “I’m gonna make all of our lives easier. And it’s these Floyd Mayweather belts that are needed to prove what I've been saying my entire life. Whether it’s the co-sign of Paul McCartney grabbing me and saying, ‘It’s OK. He doesn't bite white people.’ Or the New York Times cover. Or the TIME Most Influential cover. And now a doctorate at The Art Institute of Chicago.”
He also acknowledged his struggles in the fashion industry and how a degree would have come in handy.
“When I went on that mission to create in other spaces—apparel, film, performance. It would have been easier if I could have said I had a degree at The Art Institute of Chicago.”
A proud Kim Kardashian took to Instagram to congratulate her husband.
“Dr. Kanye West!!!!!!! I'm so proud of you baby & I know your mom would be so proud too!!!!” she said of the late Dr. Donda West, who was Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University.
Lisa Wainwright, dean of faculty and vice president of academic administration at SAIC, said the university was compelled to give Kanye an honorary degree after he mentioned a desire to have attended.
“I read it and thought, ‘Wow, this is a fantastic moment,’ Wainwright told the Chicago Tribune. “Here is this major figure in the cultural landscape promoting art school, this guy from Chicago saying art school is cool. So we thought, ‘This man deserves an honorary doctorate from us!’ He should have gone here.”
Kanye gave a lecture at SAIC a night prior to his commencement, which you can read in full below.
During the Q&A portion, a student asked Kanye about the violence plaguing Chicago. Via Complex:
Question: I’m from the West Side of Chicago—this is gonna get a little emotional—I’ve lost two of my friends to violence. They got shot and killed. I made all the right decisions—never did drugs, never did anything, but… I'm scared. I’m scared I’m next. My family and I we live on a corner street, and we're scared for bullets to come through the window and hit my sister, but like… I’m the last hope. I’m the first one to ever make it, and I’m so hungry, and I need something now. Just hoping you give some guidance, to all of us… We need something to keep on in this city… because I don't know if somebody else is gonna end my life or… if I’ll never get out.
Kanye West: I’m speechless. I don't have the answer to that. I can only just listen to you and feel and understand what we’re dealing with here. And I can't say that anything that I do or say will be the end-all be-all difference. I mean, we could just try. Yeah, I’m not even gonna try to give any politically correct answer that makes it seem like, after I say it, it’s all good—‘cause it’s not all good; it’s fucked up out here.