Stormzy has been given an honorary degree by the University of Exeter.
The rapper was granted the honour because of his “remarkable contribution to society and extraordinary talent”.
The ‘Shut Up’ artist also addressed the university’s graduating class where he praised them for having “the guts and the grit and the dedication that it takes to study for years and to finish your degree”.
He also reflected on his own education: “I got my AS results in my first year of college and said ‘Yeah, see you later’. I didn’t have the same minerals that you guys have. A year later I took another swing at my A levels at a different college… until I sat down for my English exam in January and walked out after 10 minutes.”
Stormzy went on to praise the students for graduating from their courses: “It took a hell of a lot for you to get here today. Your journeys to get to this moment were hard-fought. The road you took was not easy. And this is coming from someone who tried to walk that exact same road and failed. So from the bottom of my heart, I say congratulations, well done and you should all be so proud of yourselves, what you have achieved is incredible. Don’t let anybody downplay it and don’t let anybody undermine it. If you are sat in this room today you are worthy and you are brilliant.”
The rapper also shared his reaction to being told he was getting an honorary degree: “When I asked what exactly am I receiving this honour for I was told, and I quote, ‘It is in recognition of your outstanding achievements in the field of higher education, philanthropy and widening participation’, and I was like, ‘Rah boy… check me out. They’re calling lil’ old Mike a philanthropist,’”
Professor Lisa Roberts, the university’s vice-chancellor said the rapper is “an outstanding musician and wordsmith [who] inspires people to speak openly about their beliefs and fight for their rights”.
She continued: “The University of Exeter has put social justice at the heart of its new ten-year strategy which includes opening doors to people from all walks of life into higher education and it was wonderful to hear Michael’s powerful speech today to students and graduates.”
In recent years Stormzy has established a scholarship that supports Black British students while studying at the University of Cambridge.
So far, six students have been helped out by the scholarship scheme.