i used to love to dream

A.D. Carson


“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.

Praise / 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
  • "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

  • "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

News, Reviews, Interviews

Watch: A.D. Carson discusses i used to love to dream with a panel of academics on Straight No Chaser with Dr. Julius Bailey | 09/28/2020

Product Details

Available worldwide

  • Open Access
  • 2020
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-99903-3

Access Online


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