The Rap Guide to Human Nature

Tuesday, 31 August, 2010

Edinburgh 2010 – Gilded Balloon Teviot – 4-30 August­­ 2010 – 15.45 (1:00)

The Rap Guide to Human Nature is a powerful trip through a fascinating array of scientific theorums given extra punch by a number of impeccable raps by Canadian MC Baba Brinkman.

Baba Brinkman

The overarching theme is the way that evolution can, in theory, be credited for many aspects of personality and human nature.  This goes beyond the accepted genetic hand-me-downs of eye-colour and baldness into such controversial areas as homosexuality and racism.  The format of the show quickly settles into a pattern –  a short lecture by Baba Brinkman introducing the science, explaining various terms and statistics, before embarking on a rap covering the topic and drawing out the comedic potential of each densely-packed piece of rhyme.  It’s an eye-opening experience as religion takes on science and conservatism takes on liberalism in a huge musical punch-up, with ever-expanding beats and sonic trickery.

Throughout this marvellous show Baba Brinkman is ably assisted by DJ and producer Mr Simmonds who accompanies the raps on his turntables, even working in ‘peer reviews’ from notable scientists in the field.  At one point the two performers come together in a decidedly awkward love song of sorts, revelling in their musical partnership.  The overall impression is that of a passionate belief in science and a supreme confidence in the complex themes and material.  The performer’s resolutely liberal standpoint even comes under fire at various points as no sacred cow is left unexamined.

The show gets off to a roaring start with material about creationalism and a disastrous gig in Bible belt America.  The rapper, accepting he is preaching to the converted, raps about evolution from a creationalist stance, turning the arguments previously made on their heads, urging people to question everything – even the content of the show.

Racism is disposed of as being part of the behavioural immune system and a simple extention of a fear of disease – equating bugs and viruses with anything unusual or different.  The revelation that pregnant women have been shown to be more xenophobic during their first trimester as part of an impulse to protect their unborn baby is just one of multiple examples ripped from research papers to illustrate the point.  The following rap, knitted into a chorus taken from Ku Klux Klan anthem ‘There Aint No Bugs On Me’, takes all that has gone before and repeatedly subverts belief after believe in a thrilling display of atheistic bravado.

After a brief dalliance and dismissal of spiritualism, human relationships are up next, with distinctly unromantic theories surrounding monogamy and courtship rituals.   Could the belief in monogamy just be the best way of passing on the strongest genes?  Can men tell when a woman is ovulating?  If the answer is no, why do strippers receive 20 per cent more tips when they are ovulating?  Again, these theories, along with a segment about how taking the contraceptive pill when starting a relationship could be the quickest way to the divorce court, are wrapped up in a rap dedicated, to hilarious effect, to a female audience member.

A study of the way that homosexuality can be incorporated into evolutionary biology is perfectly structured to both inform and entertain before the final segment, concerning social constructivism versus biological determinism, fails to really ignite.

It’s the only low point in an hour which will has evolved into an absolute showstopper.

Cast Credits (alpha order): Baba BrinkmanMr Simmonds

Company Credits: Writer – Baba Brinkman.  Music/DJ – Mr Simmonds

(c) David Hepburn 2010

Reviewed Thursday 26 August


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