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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Prof by day, rapper by night

Photo by Tanner Garza
Reuben May, sociology professor, will perform Thursday along with five other performers at the Rush Concert. 
 
Photo by Tanner Garza Reuben May, sociology professor, will perform Thursday along with five other performers at the Rush Concert.   

Reuben May leads a double life.
By day, he’s a professor of sociology, recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Achievement award at A&M and author of three books.
But by night, and to his friends, he’s better known as Reginald S. Stuckey, rapper extraordinaire. And on Thursday night, people will get to see Stuckey perform, along with four other acts at the Rush Concert.
But May, who grew up in Chicago and received his doctorate from Chicago University and his master’s from DePaul University, said, to him, rapping plays as much of a role in his life as being a professor does.
“I do it for me,” May said. “I have a genuine enthusiasm and happiness from doing it. They talk about ‘runner’s euphoria,’ and it’s very similar. I can look into the sky and see the clouds in a very different and defined way. I can look on the ground and see a bug and just notice it in a very different kind of way. It’s fascinating. I tell people it’s a cigarette break for me. I work and then I go out and do it, it’s very stimulating.”
May got his start as a college student. He found the activity as a fun way to interact with his friends and peers.
“I kind of started doing it when I was in college,” May said. “I still have tapes, which are horrible, but it’s just something I would do with friends in my spare time, like a lot of college students do now, they just kind of rap or freestyle. I no longer freestyle, but it’s a great bonding opportunity for you to kind of interact with your peers.”
May said he’s had people approach him while he’s rapping on benches using a water bottle as a microphone and tell him that he’s talented or that he inspires them.
“How can you get inspired by a crazy man screaming on a bench?” May said. “But I guess it’s the idea of doing what you really feel good about and people can actually see it’s genuine. It’s reaffirming in that way.”
As a professor, May finds that he puts the same passion into his teaching that he does into his music.
“One of my colleagues said, ‘It’s different sides of the same coin.’ The creativity and the passion are both things that are inside of me, and always have been, that are exercised through my music and through my teaching,” May said. “You can ask any student that has had my class and they will say the energy that I give about what he’s doing is the same as in my music. I think they’re one and the same, I just channel some of it into my music, and some of it into my teaching.”
Weston Snow, biomedical engineering junior, will also perform Thursday night. Snow met May after he ran into him while May was performing on the side of a highway. The two began talking, and now Snow is proud to call May his mentor.
“I see him more as a friend and a mentor than a professor,” Snow said. “He inspired me to change the game a bit and take it to another level that I had never taken it to before. I’m really thankful to him for the opportunity he’s giving and I’m looking forward to see what happens.”
May encouraged Snow to share his personal music with an audience.
“The first time he came into my room, he stepped back and said, ‘There are people out there who are going through what you’re going through, and can relate to you. Whatever inspires you to write the lyrics that you’ve written, that can be a release for someone else. They’ll get something out of it and you’ll get something out of it,’” Snow said.
Because of this encouragement, Snow has found the confidence to share one of his original songs.
“At the show I will be performing one of my original songs that I haven’t shown anyone before,” Snow said. “I’ll be able to relate to people at my most honest, my most real level.”
Also performing Thursday night with May is Darrian Slater, also known as D-Slate. Slater is an education administration graduate student and graduate hall director. Slater heard about May after he arrived on campus in August.
“You don’t think of a college Ph.D.-level professor and rap at the same time,” Slater said. “I looked up some of his videos. I shot him an email, told him I liked his work and sent him my mixtape.”
Slater said for him, too, rapping is a liberating experience to relieve some of the stress from his life, whether it’s about school or other events in his life.
“I feel like it’s a way for me to educate individuals about things that are going on in my community or certain things that I’m seeing within society, and also it’s an outlet,” Slater said. “I am a student, there are frustrations that go along with that, and seeing different things that go along with being an RA in a new community. I use it as a way to manifest my message and, hopefully provide inspiration to those who need it.”
Slater said he is sometimes viewed with skepticism of being both a graduate student and a rapper, but he doesn’t give those doubts credence.
“Most people would think, ‘Oh you’re a graduate student? And you’re rapping?’ But I look at it as a way where you can still be yourself while achieving your goals professionally and academically,” Slater said.
These three men have all found a balance between their music and professional lives, and the Rush Concert on Thursday night is an opportunity for them to share that with an audience, and May said the concert is well worth going to.
“If they want to have a good time and meet a collective of people that are really just cool people, then they should attend,” May said. “The music is a secondary source, that’s not the focus, and it’s just about having a good time.”
The free concert will be at 10 p.m. Thursday at the Foundation Lounge at Northgate.

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