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This PhD Candidate Made a 34-Track Rap Album for His Dissertation

2 minute read

A PhD candidate created a different kind of dissertation looks like with his own rap music.

A.D. Carson is a student in Clemson University studying rhetorics, communication and information design, and his 34-track hip hop album titled Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions explores everything from identity politics to citizenship.

On the project’s website, Carson provides lyrics and rationale for the tracks. He also notes that the samples he uses in his music, ranging from Aretha Franklin to audio clips from the movie Django Unchained, work a bit like citing sources in a more conventional dissertation.

According to The Clemson Newstand, Carson’s choice of medium is an integral part of his thesis’ message.

“The central thesis of my dissertation is: Are certain voices treated differently?” Carson said. “I’m trying to examine how an authentically identifiable black voice might be used or accepted as authentic, or ignored, or could answer academic questions and be considered rightly academic. So I have to present a voice rather than writing about a voice.”

Listen to Carson’s powerful full album below, and be warned, there’s a parental advisory.


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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com