Olivia Judson has a review in The New York Times of The Rap Guide to Evolution. Unfortunately, the New York engagement closed tonight, but if you liked the science-themed music I’ve blogged about before, keep an eye out for this. (Discover Blogs is also all over The Rap Guide.)
Baba Brinkman, a Canadian rap artist (apologies for anyone reminded of Snow…I’m truly sorry), developed the show and album from a conversation with and encouragement from Dr. Mark Pallen of the University of Birmingham, an evolutionary biologist. The project also received support from the British Council. Brinkman is an accomplished artist, recognized at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and his previous work has included interpretations of selected Canterbury Tales. In other words, he’s no stranger to combining works that would seem to defy combination. Here’s his explanation of The Rap Guide, in words and video from his website.
“‘The Rap Guide to Evolution‘ explores the history and current understanding of Darwin’s theory, combining remixes of popular rap songs with storytelling rap/poems that cover Natural Selection, Artificial Selection, Sexual Selection, Group Selection, Unity of Common Descent, and Evolutionary Psychology. Dr. Pallen has vetted the entire script for scientific and historical accuracy, making it a powerful teaching tool as well as a laugh-out-loud entertainment experience. The show also engages directly with challenging questions about cultural evolution, asking the audience to imagine themselves as the environment and the performer as an organism undergoing a form of live adaptation.”
You can listen to tracks and download the CD through Brinkman’s website (he’d appreciate a donation if you do). He’s taken seriously the admonition from Darwin in On the Origin of Species:
“Whoever is led to believe that species are mutable, would do good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction, for only thus will the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed, be removed.”
And he makes it look easy…
He’s not kidding that this one’s a freestyle.