Baba’s hip-hop theatre productions have received rave reviews off-Broadway and at festivals around the world, including two Drama Desk Award Nominations and a Fringe First Award for Outstanding New Writing at the Edinburgh Fringe. He was the 2019 Artist-in-Residence at New York's historic SoHo Playhouse theater, where he presented the first-ever five show cycle off-Broadway, with 87 performances of his Rap Guides to Evolution, Climate Change, Consciousness, Religion, and Culture in rotation. Baba regularly tours and performs at performing arts venues and college campuses across North America and around the world.
Baba Brinkman’s latest “Rap Guide” explores humanity’s unique talent for cumulative culture, and how rap music offers unique insights into how viral memes compete for space in our brains.
Whether it’s encoded in genes or brain circuits or a combination of the two, Darwin had it right: culture is biology.
Music, poetry, art, science, politics, relationships, love, lust and hip-hop. How do social norms and cultural systems evolve and who benefits? Individuals, groups, societies and now the whole planet hangs in the balance as cultural variants compete for survival in our brains and the viral come-up.
RAP GUIDE TO CONSCIOUSNESS
The science of perception, hallucination and free will comes to life on stage as “peer reviewed rapper” Baba Brinkman takes a deep dive into the neurobiology of human experience. Baba’s brain consists of roughly 80 billion neurons, none of which has any clue that he exists. And yet somehow those cells come together to produce a steady stream of ill rhymes, laughs, and mind-blowing scientific discoveries. Take a deep dive into embryos, octopuses, and self-conscious robots, and see whether your sense of reality survives intact.
Made with support from University of Sussex Neuroscience, the Sandpiper Fund, the Schein Foundation, the Anthropocene Institute, and the Canadian Core for Neuroethics.
RAP GUIDE TO EVOLUTION
Baba Brinkman’s original hip-hop tour of modern evolutionary biology, winner of a 2009 Scotsman Fringe First Award in Edinburgh and nominated for a 2012 Drama Desk Award off-Broadway in the category “Outstanding Solo Performance”. Baba’s first “peer-reviewed rap” production combines the skills and charisma of a live MC with the precision of a scientist, offering deep insights into human nature and the origins of all living things, including rappers and their fans.
RAP GUIDE TO RELIGION
Nominated for a 2015 Drama Desk Award in the category “Unique Theatrical Experience,” Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Religion fearlessly explores the religious instincts and beliefs seemingly shared by most humans throughout history. Taking “philosophical naturalism” as his starting point, Baba performs faith-illuminating songs inspired by the best of evolutionary and cognitive science, seeking the natural origins of our supernatural beliefs, whether adaptive or irredeemable.
Why do most humans believe in a higher power? What are those beliefs good for? And once they are gone, what can replace them? This groundbreaking show explores the various pathways by which religion evolves, leaving audiences with a new appreciation of religion, and its critics.
RAP GUIDE TO CLIMATE CHAOS
Baba Brinkman breaks down the politics, economics, and physical science of global warming, following its surprising twists from the carbon cycle to the energy economy, in a pull-no-punches hip-hop manifesto that confronts both the scale of the challenge and also the failings of human psychology that make it such an easy problem to ignore. With scientists, activists, contrarians, and even the Pope adding their voices to the soundtrack, get ready for a funny and refreshing take on the world’s hottest topic.
THE CANTERBURY TALES REMIXED
Geoffrey Chaucer’s timeless Canterbury Tales comes to vivid life in an “entertaining and brilliant” (Time Out) virtuoso performance linking today’s hip-hop lyrics with the greatest stories ever told. The Pardoner, the Merchant, the Nun’s Priest, and the Wife of Bath weave together rhymes and characters that rival Nicki Minaj and Kanye, spinning tales of greed, lust, jealousy and revenge for modern and medieval audiences alike.
OFF THE TOP
A hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival three years running, Off the Top teams up science rapper Baba Brinkman (Rap Guide to Evolution) with neuroscientist Dr. Heather Berlin (host of “Science Goes to the Movies” on PBS) to explore the science of improvisation and comedy.
A married couple in real life, Baba and Heather bring you the latest research on spontaenous creativity while putting their odd-couple relationship under the microscope. Learn how a rapper seduces a scientist, how hard it is to solve a math problem while rapping, and how your subconscious comes to the surface in spontaneous moments. Humorous, lyrical, and rich with subliminal stimuli, this is hard-core science communication at its best.
Premiered off-Broadway in 2012 for a limited five-week run, Ingenious Nature follows the story of an entirely fictional Canadian science rapper who moves to New York in search of one special lady, or lots of semi-special ladies, as opportunity would allow. In the show, our anti-hero recounts a series of failed dates acquired through OK Cupid, each of which is analyzed through the lens of evolutionary psychology and its emerging view of human mating strategies.
In the end, the hapless Canadian science rapper falls for a beautiful and brilliant New York neuroscientist, who bears only a mild resemblance to Baba’s current wife in real life, Dr. Heather Berlin. Ingenious Nature is no longer available for bookings, since the material it contained was unwisely autobiographical.
Premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2010. Comedy hip-hop retellings of some of the world’s great oral epics, featuring Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, with music by Mr. Simmonds. This production is no longer available for touring, having been re-written and updated into The Canterbury Tales Remixed (above).
RAP GUIDE TO HUMAN NATURE
Premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2010, this comedy rap sequel to The Rap Guide to Evolution zeros in on human behaviour and evolutionary psychology. Rap Guide to Human Nature is no longer available for touring, having been revised and adapted into the off-Broadway production Ingenious Nature (above).
THE REBEL CELL
Premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008. Co-written with MC Dizraeli, the Rebel Cell is a verse play set in England in the (formerly future) year 2013, a scorching political satire and lyrical debate between Che Guevara-style revolutionary politics and Nelson Mandela-style civil disobedience.
THE RAP CANTERBURY TALES
Premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004. Winner: Three Weeks Editor’s Choice Award, Edinburgh 2007. Combining virtuoso lyricism with physical theatre and dramatic storytelling, Baba Brinkman recreates Chaucer’s best-loved Tales in an engaging, accessible, and often hilarious hip-hop style. This performance is no longer available for touring, having been fully revised and re-written as The Canterbury Tales Remixed (above).