Rapper Nas kicked off a fellowship in his honour at America's prestigious Harvard University by insisting hip-hop is as important to society as computer science.

The I Can hitmaker lends his name to Harvard's Hip-Hop Archive for a new programme called The Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship, and will benefit students who excel in the arts connected to the genre.

During Nas' visit to the university to introduce the initiative on Thursday (31Oct13), the high school drop-out told students about how music played a huge part in educating him.

He says, "One thing that drew me to hip-hop was the things (rappers) Kurtis Blow... Melle Mel was saying, I would ask my folks, 'What do Run-D.M.C. or Rakim mean by this?'

"Hip-hop is important like computer science. The world is changing. If you want to understand the youth, listen to the music. This is what's happening right underneath your nose."

The fellowship is a result of a major endowment from an anonymous donor who wanted to name the programme after the rapper.