Charlottesville, VA—A year into his new role at the University of Virginia as Professor of Hip-Hop A.D. Carson released a new album this summer.
Carson garnered national attention last May when he earned his PhD from Clemson University by submitting his dissertation, Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions, in the form of a rap album. Upon accepting the unique professorship in the music department at UVA and moving to Charlottesville, VA, Carson released Sleepwalking, Vol. 1: A Mixtape in the wake of the events of last summer’s chaos in the college town. That project opens with Carson performing Good Mourning, America in Charlottesville’s McGuffey Park at a counter-protest the morning of the “Unite the Right” rally.
His follow-up, Sleepwalking 2, will be released June 22, 2018. Similar to the previous two projects, Carson calls this a “mixtap/e/ssay” and draws inspiration from a diverse selection of media, including movie and literary sources to support his project’s thesis. Only five tracks, this project departs from the length of his previous 12-track mixtape and 34-track album released last year. The short track list is Carson’s deliberate attempt to communicate a multitude of messages with hopes that audiences will delve deeply into the content.
Sleepwalking 2 opens with “Sticks and Stones,” a laidback lyrical meditation on the power of language, produced by Deiontrae Lawrence, and begins:
Now that we see
the broken bodies and bones,
the bruises of the battered,
not from sticks and stones, but
from the results of what we’ve long been taught could never hurt us,
I wonder if we can stand by our assertion that words don’t matter as much as they’ve always told us.
“Antidote” showcases Carson and producer Preme rapping overlapping stories of internal and external conflict between the dark stabs of a piano loop, while “Kill Whitey,” also produced by Preme, is a raucous rumination on the realities of living with, and trying to resist, white supremacy. “Concern,” a piece Carson performed at both the UVA National Student Walkout and the Charlottesville March for Our Lives, presents a more reflective response to violence, set between the warbling bass line and pattering hi-hat of the RPM production, and “Escape” rounds out the project with Carson trading verses with Chicago emcee Truth about the difficulty and dangers of living in a world highly distracted by media that perpetuates stereotypes through images and language. The project is a culmination of a year’s work in Charlottesville, VA, a place that has become the symbolic epicenter of America’s racial, political, economic, and intellectual dis-ease.
At the University of Virginia Carson teaches classes on “The ‘Black Voice,’” “Writing Rap,” and “Composing Mixtapes,” for which the class wrote, produced, and recorded a mixtape of original music in the university’s Rap Lab during the spring semester. Sleepwalking 2 is available through iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, and Google Music, or for free streaming and/or download at aydeethegreat.com.
Watch the lyric video for “Sticks and Stones,” directed by Miguel “MiG” Martinez:
Follow A.D. Carson on Facebook/Twitter/IG: @aydeethegreat