Our spring sale is on! Use promo code SPRING24 at checkout to save 50% on any order!

Fourteen tracks that use hip-hop creative and compositional practice to interrogate the idea of home


“i used to love to dream” is a mixtap/e/ssay that performs hip-hop scholarship using sampled and live instrumentation; repurposed music, film, and news clips; and original rap lyrics. As a genre, the mixtap/e/ssay brings together the mixtape—a self-produced or independently released album issued free of charge to gain publicity—and the personal and scholarly essays. “i used to love to dream” names Decatur, Illinois—the author's hometown—as a reference point for place- and time-specific rapped ruminations about the ideas of growing up, moving away, and pondering one's life choices. At the same time, the tracks attempt to account for moral, philosophical, and ethical dimensions undergirding unease about authenticity, or staying true to oneself and to one’s city or neighborhood, as well as the external factors that contribute to such feelings. Using the local to ask questions about the global, “i used to love to dream” highlights outlooks on Black life generally, and Black manhood in particular, in the United States.

The tracks are presented along with liner notes and a short documentary about the making of the mixtap/e/ssay, and accompanying articles to provide context for the tracks for listeners both in classrooms and outside of them.

A.D. Carson is Assistant Professor of Hip Hop and the Global South at the University of Virginia.

Winner: Association of American Publishers (AAP) 2021 PROSE Award— Best E-Product

- AAP PROSE Awards

"While a slew of scholarship over the past twenty-five years has situated hip-hop
as artistic expression with both didactic and symbolic intellectual content,
Carson’s professorial and artistic concerns pushes this assumption to another
level. Carson uses the art of music to participate equally with literature as a form
of cultural criticism."
—Guthrie Ramsey, University of Pennsylvania

- Guthrie Ramsey

"i used to love to dream breaks new ground, speaks to compelling issues in our
time, and is clearly rooted in both scholarship and Black rhetorical traditions,
even as it intervenes in both."
—Adam Banks, Stanford University

- Adam Banks

"Saying that A.D. Carson’s i used to love to dream is a good listening experience
would be like saying that the experience of being high is a strange breathing
experience, or that the experience of an overdose is a bad measuring experience.
The project cannot be reduced to the sounds, images, texts, and thin genre
descriptions that comprise it. With this disturbingly personal offering, Carson
gives us a dope critical process of inhaling and engaging today’s most pressing
questions about home and national identity, empire and the geography of
oppression, and the intimate politics of survival and transformation. I urge you to
spend time with this project. Submerge your entire body in it. Argue with it.
Demand that it explain why it approaches things the way it does. I’m not sure if
disciplines—as currently embodied—deserve or can handle this hit, but all of us
need what is revealed on this journey."
—Chenjerai Kumanyika, Rutgers University

- Chenjerai Kumanyika

"i used to love to dream is a historic recording and piece of popular music scholarship. It is also a major addition to the catalogue of great hip-hop music. Accordingly, A.D. Carson should be celebrated for the integrity and character of his work."
Journal of Popular Music Studies

- Anthony Kwame Harrison

"Digital rhetoric and writing scholars have long argued about the depth and richness that digital texts are capable of. A.D. Carson delivers rich sonic textures and layers. He delivers important contexts and arguments. But above all, you can feel the author’s presence in a way that academic texts are usually incapable. This, I hope, is the future for how we continue to build and create knowledge."
Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy

- Victor Del Hierro

"Overall, I Used to Love to Dream is an important and much-needed contribution to popular music scholarship, pedagogy, and tenure practices that will be of great interest to a broad array of music scholars, historians, educators, and students. Specifically, to have these distinct sonic and visual signifiers of Blackness accepted as legitimate academic discourse is an important means
of broadening what is considered tenure-worthy scholarship"
Journal of the American Musicological Society

- Jasmine A. Henry

Watch the lyric video for one of the mixtap/e/ssay tracks, 'just in case'Please see our Fulcrum platform for additional resources related to this title.

Finalist: 2024 ACLS Open Access Book Prize Multimodal Category Finalist | 01/09/2024
Listen: Interview with Amplified | 08/23/2022 
Listen: Interview on Tavis Smiley Podcast | 07/19/2022 
Read: Feature on The Conversation | 07/08/2022 
Read: Feature on The Conversation | 07/07/2022
Watch: Discussion with author, series editor, and publishing staff for Adventures in Digital Publishing | 08/26/2021
Read: Reviewed in Kairos | 08/17/2021
Read: Op-ed on Inside Higher Ed | 08/06/2021
Read: Featured on Passengers Journal
Read: Essay in NPR on Carson's poem | 5/24/2021
Watch: Interview on Auralia.Space with the University of London | 04/23/2021
Listen: Interview on The EdSurge Podcast | 04/21/2021
Read: Article on News18.com Buzz | 04/09/2021
Listen: Feature on Making It Up | 04/07/2021
Listen: Interview on BYU Radio about i used to love to dream | 03/24/2021
Listen: Interview on WORT 99.9 FM  about i used to love to dream​ | 03/23/2021
Read: Featured as one of the Aspen Institute's 'Five Best Ideas of the Day' | 03/23/2021
Read: Feature in Gizmodo Brasil (Portuguese) | 03/17/2021
Read: Article on The Conversation US | 03/15/2021
Watch: Feature and interview on PMBiP I 02/03/2021
Watch: Feature on The Poetry Vlog 
Read: Feature on UVA Today I 12/08/2020
Read: Feature on Current Awareness Portal (Japanese) | 11/16/2020
Read: Mention on UVA's Ampersand | 11/12/2020
Read: Reviewed on Rock & Roll Army (Spanish) I 11/10/2020
Read: Featured on Herald & Review I 10/21/2020
Read: Feature on 16 Bars (German) | 10/12/2020
Read: Feature on Forschung & Lehre (German) | 10/11/2020
Read: Feature from Millikin University | 10/09/2020
Read: Feature on Inside Higher Ed | 10/05/2020
Watch: Panel discussion with author on Straight No Chaser with Dr. Julius Bailey | 09/28/2020
Read: Feature on The Daily Progress | 09/09/2020
Read: Feature on C-Ville | 09/09/2020
Read: Feature on UVA Today | 08/20/2020
Watch: Author Talk with the University of Michigan Press | 8/20/2020