by Lafe Low

Harvard Professor Uses Rap to Convey Technology Message

Oct 01, 20012 mins
IT Leadership

Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes?you’ve heard of these rap artists. But peep this: the rapper Rosabeth Moss Kanter? The college professor doesn’t come outta South Central or Bed Stuy but the ivied halls of Harvard Business School. What’s she doing with a rap song? “Evolve,” recorded with Boston-based rap artist Mike Boston, is what Kanter calls an “alternative executive summary” that hits the main points of her latest book, Evolve!: Succeeding in the Digital Culture of Tomorrow.

Kanter met Boston through the community service organization City Year, with which they’re both involved. “I wrote some verses while writing my book because I wanted to take my conclusions from the boardroom to the community,” Kanter says. “I wanted my message to reach the young people who get involved with City Year and not just executives and managers who would read the book.” Proceeds from the rap CD and accompanying video benefit City Year.

Kanter uses the song to “rap up” her lectures too. “The lectures themselves are full of substance, so it’s nice to have an inspirational and imaginative ending. I don’t take it too seriously, and I don’t expect anyone else to,” she says. But listeners have loved it. It’s been well-received among Kanter’s colleagues in business, academic and City Year circles, who find her message about bridging the digital and generational divides a positive one. “Just pick a direction in this world of connection,” she raps. “So many problems to solve?you’ve got to evolve.”

So what’s next for the rapping Rosabeth? A VH1 Behind the Music special? A world tour? Fans will be dismayed: She says this was a one-time production, a medium that suited the message.