Move over Dr. Dre, A.D. Carson may be the first official doctor of hip-hop. The 2017 Clemson University doctoral graduate has accepted a faculty position at the University of Virginia as Assistant Professor of Hip-Hop and the global south. With a Ph.D. in rhetorics, communication and information design, Carson graduated with honors this past spring and made national headlines when he presented a 34-track rap album, "Owning My Masters: The Rhetoric's of Rhymes and Revolutions," as his dissertation.


While the innovative move was publically praised by the university, Carson says the show of support is not indicative of his overall experience. In fact, much of the lyrical content addressed in his dissertation was inspired by his experiences as a minority at the South Carolina institution. "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," he said in an interview with Independent Mail. "My life every day in Clemson—the dissertation is kind of like a metaphor for that."

Carson, who was heavily involved in campus activism confronting issues of institutional injustice at Clemson, was arrested in 2016 for trespassing during a nine-day sit-in at Sikes Hall. "Being detained out in front of Sikes, then to have Clemson tweeting and posting on Facebook about this "innovative dissertation project' was really a surreal moment," he said.  "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 credit for it." Clemson's current show of support has not silenced Carson from calling out the contradictions he experienced while a student there. "They weren't willing to engage - they were just interested in public perception.

Carson looks forward to his work at UVA.