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This Clemson Grad Who Rapped His Dissertation Is Now A Hip Hop Professor

By January 27th, 2021No Comments
This Clemson Grad Who Rapped His Dissertation Is Now A Hip Hop Professor

Can’t stop won’t stop! A.D. Carson decided to turn his dissertation into a hip-hop love letter by submitting a 34-track rap album entitled “Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions” to Clemson University. The dissertation was nationally acclaimed and has now earned him a dream job.

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Carson is now the assistant professor of hip-hop and the global south at the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music! GOALS.

“In my mind, I’m thinking about the hip-hop world. I’m making music — I’m still a part of this world,” said Carson. “If the music is not dope, if I’m not a dope emcee, if I’m not good at what I do, then this all means very little.”

His dissertation served as his campus life story and and the style was one-of-a-kind at Clemson. “Being in the climate that is Clemson University really helped to push forward the thoughts I was having and how I would present my work,” Carson mused. “My life every day in Clemson — the dissertation is kind of like a metaphor for that.”

Carson’s dissertation was basically a call-out in regards to the institutional injustices he and other students experienced at Clemson. Carson’s dedication to fighting these injustices aren’t just limited to him spitting hot bars, but he was also involved in a nine-day sit-in on campus, in which lead to his arrest for trespassing. So, for Clemson to be publicly applauding his work now seems disingenuous to Carson.

“Being detained out in front of Sikes [Hall], then to have Clemson tweeting and posting on Facebook about this ‘innovative dissertation project’ as though it was always in support or as though it was their idea — it was really a surreal moment,” Carson noted. “Just a year ago it seemed as though the institution had taken a stance against me and now the institution is championing this work. They’ve taken a certain kind of credit for it.” Per Slate, Clemson University declined to comment on this issue.

Though Carson credits his Clemson experiences for the quality of his dissertation, he is definitely ready to move on. “It was very impactful, I learned a lot. But there was no hesitation whatsoever with me packing up and leaving town,” said Carson.

And Virginia is excited to have him! UVA’s Associate professor of composition and computer technologies Ted Coffey, highly praised Carson as his dissertation was super unique. “I think that A.D. is rooted in black American intellectual history, both literature and theory. And the content of his dissertation — he has rap where he’s ripping, sampling the rhyme scheme of Langston Hughes and of Jay-Z. He’s synthesizing stuff that came before,” said Coffey, who was a chair of the search committee that hired Carson. “I’m just really curious to see what he’s going to do next.”

Clearly an ambitious person, Carson is already jumping in head-first into things, incorporating his music and literature background by performing at The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative and collaborating with a UVA doctoral student on a new music project. “He’s (in a sense) a freedom fighter. I have a sense that he’s going to throw himself into the middle of the most egregious injustices he can find and work to make them more just.”

“I believe so strongly in hip-hop and have been so influenced by the culture that I take the responsibility very seriously and I have to be very mindful and very careful and very deliberate of the moves I make while I’m in this position,” said Carson. “I want to establish myself as a scholar and artist and to really get a feel of the community that exists through hip-hop, especially at the local level in Charlottesville.”

I love it! Congrats to A.D. Carson! We have no doubt he will exceed in this role. The University of Virginia is lucky to have him!


What do you think about A.D. Carson’s unique dissertation and generally thinking outside the box?
This Clemson Grad Who Rapped His Dissertation Is Now A Hip Hop Professor
Tonja Renée Stidhum is a writer/director living in Los Angeles by way of Chicago. She is the co-host of the movie review podcast, Cinema Bun Podcast. She is made of sugar and spice and everything rice… with the uncanny ability to make a Disney/Pixar reference in the same sentence as a double entendre. You can follow her on Twitter @EmbraceTheJ, on Facebook, and Instagram @embracethej. You can find more of her work on her About Me page,

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