RAP GUIDE TO EVOLUTION: Show Review by Hannah Singer

I had the opportunity to see one of Baba Brinkman’s “Guide To” rap shows. ‘Rap Guide to Evolution’ was my obvious choice as my tween and I have had many discussions about evolution vs. Adam & Eve.

Right off the bat, you know this will be a show that thinks out of the box, with the writer/performer being named Baba. And with the combo of rap and science, well, this will be interesting.

Upon entering the theatre, there was both a projection of images of life being formed and images of various animals and a quote from “On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin: “Whoever is led to believe that species are mutable will do good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction. For only thus can the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed be removed.”

This seems very relevant in today’s American society, where the anti-evolution sentiment is on the rise.

Baba has a huge stage presence. When he gets on stage we can’t look away. With video projections behind him, he toggles between science and evolution related rap songs and interesting informative thoughts, ideas, commentaries and facts rapidly coming at us, as we see how passionate he is about spreading the word. He connects rap to evolution and connects a peacocks’ colorful tail to rap’s bling, both aiming for the same results, he says.

My tween and I love interactive shows, and Baba did not disappoint. He had us chanting and singing along “ I am African”. Not I am A African he explains later. This is a rap song after all! (An homage to a rap group he loved growing up in British Columbia, “Dead Prez”.) Why are we all Africans you may ask? Baba explains how man first began in Africa, hence we are all Africans (and all related by the way!).

Baba speaks with the audience and makes eye contact throughout. He is one of us. He looks like the guy next door, an all American/Canadian guy who could easily be an insurance salesman or an accountant. But when he starts a rap and the lights turn low and he puts his hoody up,  he is transformed and his rap skill is evident.

At the end, Baba explains how he has worked on these rap shows for 10 years and how they have evolved.  He invites comments, feedback,  and whatever we want to share with him. He calls this Performance-Feedback-Revision. Every audience helps make the show newer. He takes genuine pleasure in answering unrehearsed questions.

And after all the comments and questions, he creates a new rap song inspired by those thoughts, utilizing and referencing them all in the rap, the first part of which was pre-written.  Once again, brilliant!

As we exited, we could see Baba greet folks on their way out and have more discussions about anything and everything which probably will help in evolving his art.  He clearly enjoys his audience, and they him.

I would love to see this show again, as it was a lot to take in. We came out knowing more than we came in with, yet fully entertained at the same time. Actually, I want to see his five Rap Guide shows. How does he remember all these shows when doing a different one every night!?

Baba Brickman is married to a neuroscientist with two children and lives and works in NYC. His first Rap Guide was Evolution in 2009. He has performed all over, and has done some Ted Talks. He also is a recipient of the “Friend of Darwin “ Award. He completed a Masters in Comparative Literature in 2003, his thesis exploring parallels between hip-hop music and medieval poetry.

He performs his rap shows in rotation at the Soho Playhouse : Rap Guide to Evolution, Rap Guide to Religion, Rap Guide to Consciousness, Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, and Rap Guide to Culture.

Visit www.bababrinkman.com and https://www.sohoplayhouse.com/rapguide.


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