Black excellence

A graduate who rapped his dissertation has been appointed the hip-hop professor at the University of Virginia


A GRADUATE who who rapped his dissertation has taken on the role of assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music.

A.D. Carson graduated with distinctions this past spring from Clemson University’s rhetorics, communication and information design doctorate program.

His dissertation was a 34-track rap album titled “Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions”.

During his four years on campus, Carson was heavily involved in addressing what he and others viewed as institutional injustice embedded within Clemson.

“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,” Carson said. “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.”

Ted Coffey, associate professor of composition and computer technologies in UVA’s McIntire Department of Music, chaired the search committee that ultimately hired Carson. While he said they had numerous outstanding candidates, Carson’s work — and especially his dissertation — was something they hadn’t seen before.

“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,” Ted Coffey said. “I’m just really curious to see what he’s going to do next.”


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