Monday, July 4, 2011

Album Release and Review Round-up

First thing's first, I have a new CD out! The Rap Guide to Evolution: Revised is a brand new 14-track album produced by Mr. Simmonds. It started out as a "remix" of the original RGE CD from a few years ago but soon took on a life of its own with all new music, new collaborations, and most of the lyrics re-written (performance, feedback, revision), plus three completely new tracks. We've been working on this album all year long and finally finished it last week. Click here to listen to the evolution of the rap guide, and download it Radiohead-style (pay what you like).

The record came out just in time too. Last Sunday was the official launch of the Rap Guide to Evolution off-Broadway at the Soho Playhouse, and after the official opening comes the official reviews. (Hold your breath, I did).

The first indications were a little off-putting, with a review from Theatre Mania generally praising the show but complaining that my slogan "Don't Sleep With Mean People" is "a little too simplistic" (kind of like the Golden Rule?), followed by an utterly ignorant and petty review from Backstage that accused me of being insufficiently brave and claimed that I am "interested less in Darwinian theory than in the newer and murkier fields of evolutionary biology and psychology." WTF?!

However, Darwinian theory predicts that critics this clueless about Darwinian theory will soon be supplanted by critics with a higher level of Darwinian theoretical fitness, and I was not disappointed. On Tuesday the New York Times published a double feature, with a glowing review in their Theatre section ("brainy and entertaining") and a feature article in their Science section ("hard to beat"). I am told this is the first time the NY Times has ever profiled a show in both the Science and Theatre sections in the same day, which is consoling since the Science section decided to print the most unflattering photo of me ever taken, hands down.

Add Image

We also got a nice review in the New York Post ("a total Dar-winner") and a four-star review from Time Out New York ("Dope, data-filled raps"), as well as reviews and write-ups in Respect Magazine,, The Inept Owl, Think Thoughts Do Stuff, and Sci-ence (with an awesome cartoon of me and Jamie).

So what does all of this fanfare mean? It means we've had full houses! The last few days the show has been packed, and that makes for happy staff, happy producers, and happy crowds, able to shake the walls with a rousing chorus of "When I say 'Don't Sleep With'... you say 'Mean People!'"

Friday, June 17, 2011

Beat the Drum!

Greetings from New York! Jamie (Mr. Simmonds) and I arrived two weeks ago, and after a weekend of performing at the World Science Festival we got settled into our new apartment here in the West Village and immersed ourselves in daily rehearsals and re-writes for the off-Broadway run of the Rap Guide to Evolution at the Soho Playhouse, which starts tonight!

The most amazing part of this process so far has been the collaborations with some of New York's top theatre artists, including Julliard's Derek Stenborg on set design, Jason Boyd on lighting design, Dodd Loomis the director, Wendall Harrington on visual projections, and Ken Travis on sound design, and of course Jamie Simmonds who has been producing new music for the show, which will soon be a new album: "The Rap Guide to Evolution: Revised". Take a moment to check out their bios and credentials on the show website.

The result of all this collaboration is a truly stunning production with an audio/visual tapestry that complements the words in a way I have never experienced. I really can't wait to get it up and running, but with the launch tonight I guess I won't have to. Check out Derek's new mural designed especially for the show, which is now painted in full relief on the theatre wall:

For now this is me beating the drum and asking for your help. We will be running for a minimum of two months, eight shows per week, but if the audience response is strong enough the run could be extended for several more months, and the only way that will happen is through word of mouth. If you know anyone in New York or anyone planning to visit, please send them an invite, a recommendation, and/or a link to the show website:

Also, if you know anyone who does a blog, any journalists, anyone with Twitter followers, that's how we'll reach the most people. For instance, here's a recent post from the science writer Carl Zimmer at Discover Magazine helping to spread the word on his blog, The Loom. Now we need more evolution-lovers to beat the drum!

Hope to see you at a show, and wish us luck,


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rapconteur at the Rio (Post-Election Smut)

Here's a moment of hilarity to take the edge off.

My last Canadian performance before I depart for New York and London and beyond is on Thursday night at the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver. Well, yesterday Canada had an election, and my mother, Joyce Murray, was a candidate for the Liberal party in Vancouver Quadra (the West side). You'll be happy to know she won the election, although her party most emphatically did not, but that's another story. Congratulations to my mom the MP!

So the hilarity came the day before the election, when she decided to use her high public profile to help promote my final show (if that's nepotism then I'll take it) so she wrote to her campaign assistant, Leah, asking "could you put some kind of link to Baba’s gig on my FaceBook and website?" This might sound like an executive order, but Leah's response (generously forwarded to me) is worth quoting in full:

Hi Joyce,

I went to post this on facebook but think it may be inappropriate until after the polls close tomorrow: the picture for the event blatantly has people having sex in a tree. Are you ok if I put it on facebook as of 7pm tomorrow?

I don't think it is appropriate to have it on the website.

See you soon,


But... but... that's a scene from the Merchant's Tale! It's Chaucer! It's educational! Ah well, I guess the poster is a bit too liberal even for the Liberals, and democracy should never be confused with entertainment. Check out the event on facebook here, or the ticketing site here, or get more details about the show on my website here.

If you're in Vancouver I hope you can make it, and you'll find out how illuminating and non-gratuitous sex in a tree can really be.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Countdown to Launch

Here's a quick update about my recent goings-on for your amusement.

Upcoming Gigs and Tours

In about two and half weeks I'll be leaving for New York (six days), London (two weeks), and then New York again (indefinitely), but first I've got a couple of shows coming up in Vancouver. I'm hosting a launch party for my new Lit Fuse Records website on April 25th at the Library Square Pub featuring my label-mates Aaron Nazrul and the Boom Booms and Smoky Tiger. I'll also be presenting Rapconteur at the Rio Theatre on May 5th, the debut Vancouver performance of my new Chaucer/Gilgamesh/Beowulf adaptations.

Rap Guide to Evolution Music Video UK Premier

We have confirmed the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, May 25th, as the launch event for the Rap Guide to Evolution video project. The final DVD probably won't be finished and ready for sale by then, but we will be showing the finished videos and launching the website at that event, with the DVD to follow shortly. Huge thanks to the Wellcome Trust and all of the Crowfunding supporters for making this possible.

Lit Fuse Records .Com

Check out my new record label website, with links to listen to all of the music I have released and executive produced over the years. The site is especially designed for showcasing our artists, for easy access to buy their music digitally, and for film and television producers to browse our songs (including instrumentals) for licensing purposes. If you know someone working on a film or web project or video game that needs synchronized music, please send them to!

Off-Broadway Venue Confirmed!

Starting June 17th I'll be performing eight shows per week at the Soho Playhouse in downtown Manhattan, running for somewhere between six weeks and complete incapacitation, so as the date approaches I promise you'll be hearing more from me about that. I'm also planning to write a blog about my adventures in New York. (I'm not blogging right now because my days consist of sitting at my computer typing and adjusting my broken ankle for comfort and occasionally recording a rap song, so not much to tell). Soho Playhouse is a great venue though, check it out.

Don't Vote For Mean People!

Some of you will no doubt recognize this slogan from the Rap Guide to Evolution, in which I admonish the audience to do their part for humanity by refusing to sleep with mean people. Well, as a variation on the theme and since we're in an election right now I recorded a battle rap song about the mean-spirited uber-conservative automaton we've recently been forced to call the Prime Minister of Canada. Click here to watch the music video, filmed at my mom's campaign launch (she's a candidate for the Liberal Party here in Vancouver). The star of the show is my formidable grandmother Charlotte, a fact picked up on by some of the media response. It also ran on the six o'clock news before the leaders' debate last week.

To all the Canadians reading this, let's vote Harper out! We can do this by talking to people, staying engaged, rallying the vote on May 2nd, and by voting strategically where there's a close race with a split left. It's the only way to avoid voting for mean people by proxy. Check out Project Democracy for guidance.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't Vote For Mean People - Press Release

Press Release: "Don't Vote For Mean People" Sums Up the Election in Rap

April 11 2011

Vancouver rap artist Baba Brinkman, the son of a Liberal candidate, has released a Youtube video for his new anti-Stephen Harper rap song "Don't Vote For Mean People," and it's already generating some buzz, including tweets from prominent Canadian writers Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake) and Andrew Potter (The Rebel Sell).

Joyce Murray, the Liberal candidate for Vancouver Quadra and Brinkman's mother, was quick to distance herself from the video, writing in her weekly campaign update: "I don’t always agree with every detail in his creative interpretation of the issues, but his raps are always entertaining." Vancouver's Georgia Straight newspaper ran a story pointing out that Murray was also promoting the song by mentioning it in her campaign material.

The music video was filmed at Murray's campaign headquarters and features Liberal signage, but its message is entirely national in scope. Brinkman also departs from the Liberal Party line in advocating strategic voting for the NDP in ridings that are "heavily NDP polling." The song calls Stephen Harper "a menace" and accuses him of "acting like a dictator". Brinkman's previous Youtube postings have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Joyce Murray is featured in the video, as is Brinkman's fearsome grandmother Charlotte Murray, whose presence has drawn Youtube comments. In the Youtube notes Brinkman writes: "Yes, that is my grandma. I advise you not to mess with her." He also includes a list of recent news stories about Conservative misdeeds under the heading "Mean stuff that Harper has done."

The video can be viewed here.

And the song can be downloaded here for free.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shiny and New

I don't usually do headings, but this is a heady update. Each headline could have been its own email. I didn't want to carpet bomb you though, so here goes.

New Website

I have a brand new website! I am officially phasing out my old site for the more straightforward, which has now been fully redesigned for ease and enjoyment. Please take a moment to check it out.

Twin Studies

In other news, I received a weird random Skype call from my long-lost identical twin brother recently, which was pretty surreal. Luckily I had the presence of mind to screen capture the whole thing. Have a look.

I'm A African!

Would you like to be in one of my music videos? We're doing a video for the song I'm A African and we need lots of people to send in video clips of themselves rapping along with the song, so we can cut between dozens of faces all proclaiming "I'm A African!" like any well-informed Homo sapien. If you'd like to join us, click here for instructions.

Fail Beyond Belief

The Rock Beyond Belief concert at Fort Bragg that I was so looking forward to performing at has been cancelled! This was a blatant example of discrimination against non-religious people by the US Army, but there's a chance it might be resurrected in the Fall, or it could result in a court challenge. Here's their latest update if you're curious about the unfolding drama.

Broken Ankle

As for me, I'm laid-up in Vancouver at the moment since I broke my ankle bone snowboarding a few weeks ago, which earned me 6-8 weeks in a cast and on crutches. This is inconvenient to say the least, but I'm cracking on with desk work in a state of general agitation while I heal.


Speaking of agitation, I made some political videos, including one about Canada's sleazy Prime Minister and one about US Health Care Reform.

Tours and gigs

My upcoming off-Broadway run is now scheduled to start in mid-June, which clears some time for fun in the run-up. On May 9th I'll be presenting at TEDxEast in New York, and then I'm heading over to England for a few weeks. I'll definitely have a gig or two in London, but if anyone out there knows of a UK venue or event I could be part of roughly 11 - 30 May, I'm looking. I'll also be in Vancouver until May 7th or so if anyone wants to set up a local gig.

Rapping Chaucer

Yeah, I still do that, although lately I've spiced things up a bit with Beowulf and the Merchant's Tale. I'm still surprised that schools let me perform the material from Rapconteur in their classes, but I'm glad too, 'cause the kids lap it up. I'll leave you with a video of one of my recent school performances captured by a Vancouver TV crew.

I'm A African!

Calling all Homo sapiens!

I'm currently working with a video production team in London on a series of music videos for my album The Rap Guide to Evolution, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Crowdfunding. The result will be part hip-hop swagger and part educational nature documentary, showing the animal roots of human behavior and the unity of all living things by descent, and we need your help!

We need some additional footage for the "I'm A African" video - yes that means footage of you. If you would like to be a part of it, all I need you to do is download the song, familiarize yourself with it, and play it on your stereo in the background while making a video of yourself rapping along to the lyrics as close to in time with the rhythm as you can (keep the camera still!). Don't worry if it's not all perfectly in time, or if you just want to do a segment of the song rather than the whole thing, but keep in mind that we can only use the parts that are in time!

If you can memorize the lyrics great, but if not you can get them from Bandcamp, print them off, and place the cheat-sheet near the camera so you can read them while facing the lens. Please make sure the scene is well-lit, the background isn't too cluttered, and the camera captures you from the torso up or closer. iPhone4 is okay, or Quicktime via webcam (make sure the recording quality is set to "Best" under preferences), but if you have an HD video camera that would be even better, and of course all ages, races, genders, and body-types are welcome, that's the point!

If you would like to take part please email me at info [at] babasword [dot] com with the subject "I'm A African!" to confirm your participation (first come first serve!) and I'll respond with instructions on how to send me the files. All submissions must be received by April 15th!

**Note: this deadline has now been extended until April 30th, but please get them in soon!

Then once we get everyone's clips we'll cut back and forth between me rapping and all of you rapping to illustrate the evolutionary fact that we are all African under the skin. So say it loud and proud: I'm A African!

Disclaimer: I can't guarantee that everyone who sends me a video will appear in the final cut, as this will be left up to the discretion of the video design team and it will be based on video quality, timing, expressiveness, and the need to represent diversity of ages, races, genders, etc. However, we will stop accepting footage once we have enough to work with, so your chances are much better than average.

Legalese: we don't have physical consent forms for you to literally sign, so please be advised that sending us footage via email in accordance with the instructions attached means you consent to your image being used in the video for us to distribute and promote as we see fit, and for us to use in material for the purpose of promoting the video and the Rap Guide to Evolution project as a whole, worldwide, in perpetuity, etc, etc. That way you can't sue us if you get cold feet after sending something in!