At A Glance

With a background in Blues Epistemology and decades of music production experience, Melvin Earl Villaver Jr., Ph.D. combines his artistry and expertise to provide a historical and cultural lens into today’s music scene. A product of his hometown, music and culture-rich Los Angeles, Villaver weaves together his musical skills with the theoretical and historical foundations in his research and teachings.


Melvin Earl Villaver, Jr. Ph.D. explores the cultural origins of Hip Hop as well as how African American artists have played a hand in the formation of the history of music. From blues to jazz, rock and roll, techno and all the way to Hip Hop, Villaver examines how Black musicians have incorporated their history and culture into the development of American music. He explains how current trends are pushing brands to showcase Hip Hop artists and traditions at the forefront of society.

Joining Clemson in Fall 2023 as an assistant professor in audio technology and Global Black Studies, Villaver is an expert in both Blues Epistemology and music production. Drawing from almost two decades of music production and songwriting acumen, his research intricately weaves together the practical nuances of Black Musical technical skill with the rich tapestry of theoretical and historical foundations in his research and teachings.

Villaver’s journey to higher education is unique. He grew up a lifelong musician, taking piano lessons when he was 5 years old. After obtaining an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California in 2014, he worked as a professional musician and subsequently in the higher education non-profit sector for five years.

Following in the footsteps of Clemson graduate A.D. Carson ’17, Villaver elected to produce his own mixtape for his dissertation. “Harmonic Resurgence: Reclaiming the Godino Twins Journey Through Hip Hop” is a speculative fiction/archival support project on the conjoined Filipino jazz musicians popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

As the son of Filipino immigrants, Villaver holds a sentimental attachment to this work. “It’s a project honoring my identity as a Filipino musician to write about, perform and make music from the perspective of deceased Filipino musicians,” he said.

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The history of America is told through its music. Every time I teach a class, I inspire a new generation of thinkers to remember that history. Every conversation about Blues Epistemology and blues music in this country is an active dialogue about aspects our nation sometimes tries to forget. However, we engage in this conversation in a manner that honors and celebrates the histories of the people who created the music.

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    • Black American music
    • Music production
    • Songwriting
    • Global Black Studies
    • Asian American Studies

    Degrees, Institutions

    • Ph.D. in American studies, Purdue University
    • M.A. in American studies, Purdue University
    • B.A. in American studies, University of Southern California