Christian rapper Dee-1 has started a new chapter in his career, embarking on an artist/scholar residency at Tufts University where, according to the school, he will “focus on the transformative power of art, especially hip-hop music, as an instrument of social change.”
Dee-1, whose real name is David Arnold Augustine Jr., is a New Orleans native who has been making music for over a decade. He is known for his socially conscious and faith-forward lyrics and commitment to using his platform to make a positive impact.
Dee-1’s activism and youth outreach have earned him an NAACP “Power of Image” award and a historic appointment to the Louisiana Council for the Success of Black Men and Boys, which advises the governor. Renowned for uplifting and inspiring fans on social media and through his music, Dee-1 is now taking it back to the classroom.
He was recently announced as the inaugural Alan Solomont Artist/Scholar-in-Residence at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life for the 2023-2024 academic year. As part of his residency at Tufts, the award-winning rapper will teach a course about hip-hop’s influence on societal change. The residency news came after Dee-1 appeared as a guest speaker in April and spoke on a similar topic, which left an impression.
In a news release, Dayna L. Cunningham, a dean at Tufts University, said that attendees “were inspired not only by his unique perspective and talents in the art and activism space but also by his sheer enthusiasm for this work.”
Cunningham described the “artist” and “civic leader” as a “natural choice for the inaugural residency.”
Based on his Instagram post announcing a campus meet-and-greet, Dee-1, a Louisiana State University graduate, is excited about his new role at Tufts.
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Dee-1, 34, was named a 2022-2023 Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellow at Harvard’s Hiphop Archive & Research Institute last November. The fellowship is named after the rapper Nas and “fund[s] scholars and artists who demonstrate exceptional scholarship and creativity in the arts in connection” with hip-hop.
Before starting a full-time rap career, Dee-1 was a middle school teacher, equipping students to tackle math. As a recording artist, Dee-1 challenges listeners to think critically about their lives and the world. His discography, grounded in his faith, includes six studio albums, several mixtapes, and numerous singles — including 2016’s viral hit “Sallie Mae Back.” His latest album, UNO, reportedly charted at no. 4 on Apple’s iTunes.