The Rap Guide to Evolution

Following up on his critically acclaimed reworking of Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece in The Rap Canterbury Tales, Canadian actor and rap artist Baba B...

★★★
archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2009
33330 large
102793 original

Following up on his critically acclaimed reworking of Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece in The Rap Canterbury Tales, Canadian actor and rap artist Baba Brinkman has set his sights on an altogether more ambitious project: illustrating the majesty of Darwin’s theory of evolution through the medium of rap.

But a few minutes in to The Rap Guide to Evolution one could be forgiven for doubting that the two could be compatible bedfellows. Certainly there seems to be little promise of nuance when the lines “Darwin’s got it goin’ on/Creationism is dead wrong” are repeated ad infinitum.

However, this is much, much more than a Christian-bashing science love-in (although, let’s not be mistaken, it is that also!). This is a lovingly crafted,  intelligent exploration of one of the most important ideas to come out of Western science and its impact upon wider human thinking. In fact, The Rap Guide to Evolution is most stimulating and intelligent when addressing the social and behavioural theories associated with evolution: in one particularly nice segment, Brinkman uses Darwin to explain the rise of rap music and hip-hop culture in a way that is far from contrived. This is as much social commentary as it is science lesson.

Brinkman’s rhymes are at timesa Shakespearean in their beauty, but often the rapid-fire machine-gun rap format doesn’t give one enough time to appreciate their sentiment. And whilst unquestionably thought-provoking, it’s not sufficiently entertaining to warrant its billing as a theatre production. Which is a shame, because Brinkman himself is a thoroughly engaging personality and after an hour in his company one’s mind is noticeably a little more open.