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!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rock Beyond Belief Canceled Due to Lack of Intent

Some of you will have heard via Twitter and Facebook and other sources, but the concert that was due to be held at Fort Bragg, NC on April 2nd has been cancelled because the Army administrators reneged on their commitment to provide "equal support" to the event after sponsoring an evangelical christian concert on the base last year to the tune of over $50,000. Masala Skeptic over at Skepchick put it perfectly: Fail Beyond Belief.

As if this wasn't hypocritical enough, I recently heard from one of the organizers and apparently the Fort Bragg admin people are now trying to justify their decision to pull the funding and downgrade the venue by pointing out that the performers hadn't signed a "Statement of Intent" with the concert organizers. So they asked me to write a short letter confirming that I had indeed intended to be there. This is starting to take on the same surreal feel as the Dover Intelligent Design trial which put the whole "Liars for Jesus" phenomenon on full display. Anyway, here's the letter, now public:

Fort Bragg

Subject: Statement Of Intent

ATTN: Erica Walker, Benjamin Abel, Stephen Sicinski

It has recently come to my attention that questions are being raised as to the seriousness of my compact with SGT Justin Griffith to perform at a concert event he was organizing at Fort Bragg for April 2nd called "Rock Beyond Belief". Please allow me to clear up any confusion by saying that I did confirm this gig with SGT Griffith, in writing, and although my usual fee to perform is around $2,000 I had also agreed in writing to waive my honorarium for the event, because the cause (equal treatment of those with divergent religious beliefs, including atheists) is one I believe in strongly.

My written confirmation was sent to SGT Griffith via email on February 6th, and on February 13th I wrote a blog announcing the event to my fans online, which you can read here: I also followed up with a newsletter that went out to my personal email list of more than 7,000 individuals, and I received many encouraging responses and expressions of interest from fans around the world. If you have any doubt about this I would be happy to show you the messages and/or send out a follow-up newsletter asking everyone on my mailing list to individually write to you via email in support of SGT Griffith and in protest of Fort Bragg's discrimination against his event on religious grounds, in clear violation of the US constitution. I was very disappointed to hear that the event was cancelled, but under the circumstances I think SGT Griffith made the right choice.

I should also add, in case anyone is foolish enough to quibble over the "official" status of email confirmation as a form of written compact or "Statement of Intent", that I currently perform more than 100 gigs per year and the majority of those events are confirmed via email with no formal contract, and never once have I canceled a gig for anything other than grave illness. Once an event has been confirmed via email and announced online and one's name has been added to the poster, it would be career suicide to treat such commitments frivolously. The music industry, like many other professions, is mostly governed by a code of honour enforced by peers with a strong interest in each others' reputation for integrity, something that is worth more than a signed contract in many spheres. I am proud to say SGT Griffith took me at my (written) word that I would be there, just like he seems to have (mistakenly) taken the word of Fort Bragg's administrators that he would receive "equal support" for his event.

At any rate, I sincerely hope SGT Griffith is able to resurrect Rock Beyond Belief at a future date, and please be assured that I will do everything in my power to attend and perform. As we say in the hip-hop world: "word is bond".


Baba Brinkman

The Rap Guide to Evolution

PS - if anyone does want to support SGT Griffith and the Foxhole Atheists by donating or writing in, here's how you do it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shows, Tours, Vids

I'm just writing to give you a quick update, share a new music video, and put the word out about some upcoming gigs and tours, including Vancouver, California, and the Eastern USA.

First the update: we exceeded the Crowdfunder target with flying colours back in January, raising £12,588 from 304 funders in 60 days, a fantastic response! The video team in London is now putting these funds to good use on post-production, and we're hoping to have the videos ready for release by April or May, so standby for more!

Speaking of videos, here's a new one that was commissioned by Macmillan Dictionary, a battle between Canadian and British slang, pitting my own verbal skills against the inimitable Professor Elemental. It is an exercise in exalted silliness and was lots of fun to put together, with fine music by Mr Simmonds and visuals by Tommy Nagle who also did the video for Off That. Click here to watch it.

Elemental is an old friend and collaborator of mine and one of the finest MCs I've encountered in the UK. He has an upcoming tour of Eastern Canada and the USA in April and May, so if any of you know of a venue or event he could grace I think he still has dates to fill. Check out his website for more info and to get in touch with him.

Another friend with a great project is David Sloan Wilson, the author of Evolution for Everyone which was a major inspiration for the Rap Guide to Evolution (seriously, if you read it you'll be startled by how many of his ideas I adapted). One of David's best ideas was the Binghamton Neighborhood Project, a real-world application of evolutionary theory that is currently transforming his city for the better, and one of the project's initiatives, the Design Your Own Park Contest, was recently shortlisted for a major urban achievement award, but he needs your vote to win it! To learn more about the project in David's own words just click here, or go directly to the voting page to support him.

As for me, I'm hanging out in Vancouver until the next round of touring kicks off. I'll be performing the Rap Guide to Evolution as a fundraiser for CFI Vancouver on February 20th at the Railway Club, supported by Aaron Nazrul and Boom Booms, my last show in Vancouver before I decamp for New York, so please come if you can! Here's the Facebook event page and the CFI announcement.

Next I'll be performing my new-ish show Rapconteur at the Fresno Rogue Festival March 5-12, so if any of you know of a venue in California I could add to that tour, I could probably make it work in March.

Then in April I'm off to Fort Bragg in North Carolina to perform for the troops alongside Richard Dawkins and others at an event called Rock Beyond Belief, organized by some non-religious soldiers (who call themselves Foxhole Atheists!) as a response to an evangelical christian concert held on the base last year. It's not exactly a "counter-event", more of an attempt to celebrate critical thinking and foster community and solidarity among nonbelievers, especially ones who often feel like they are under siege from religious zealots. It's a pretty interesting backstory if you want to read about it.

After that it's off to New York for the big off-Broadway run, although I might have a few weeks free before rehearsals begin, so if any of you wants to organize a gig in early April just get in touch.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Two Weeks' Notice (Help!)

Happy New Year!

It's the final two weeks of the Rap Guide to Evolution DVD Crowdfunder drive and we're only at 81%, which is much better than I had feared, but Crowdfunder's rules are strict. If we don't meet or exceed the £10,000 target in the 60 day timeframe everyone gets their money back and we're stuck with our original (highly stretched) budget. We can't let this happen! There are 13 days left as of today, so this is a call to arms. Please share the link below on facebook, twitter, blogs, and emails, and if you've been thinking of contributing, now is the time!

And here's a recent post on that has given the pitch a nice boost, literally a 6% increase in the past 48 hours, thanks in part perhaps to the heated debates raging in the comments section, including a spat between myself and a semi-famous transexual blank-slatist over the scientific validity of evolutionary psychology:

Also, I'm accepting bookings through the Crowdfunder drive, and so far two different venues have secured bookings by contributing £1,000. Email me to check about possible dates and availability first, as this is currently the only way I'm booking events for 2011 due to the off-Broadway run that's scheduled to start in New York in March. So if you've been thinking of organizing a performance of the Rap Guide to Evolution or Rap Canterbury Tales this year, let's do it through Crowdfunder and put the money towards the DVD post-production costs!

Speaking of the upcoming off-Broadway run, Sharon Levy of Dovetail Productions is currently organizing the venue, hiring the team, and raising the crucial funds to make this happen, mostly through private investment. She needs to secure $300K (minimum $5-$10K units), standard for New York off-Broadway theatre, and she is open to investors from my network (that's y'all). Be warned that there is risk involved, but also possible financial reward (if you think I'm bankable prospect!) Let me know if you're seriously interested and I'll connect you with Sharon, but first read her Executive Summary with the pitch.

In other news, we have now finished all of the live filming for the music videos and the footage we have is amazing! We filmed a Galapagos beach party for "Worst Comes to Worst", a grimy snarling fire-in-a-barrel rudeboy video for "Survival of the Fittest", and a breakdance battle between Darwin, Sarah Palin, Michel Foucault, and *God* for "Survival of the Fittest". Check out the photos on the bottom of the Crowdfunder pitch page.

Next, crowdfunder willing, is the editing and post-production phase, and finally the release party, hopefully in early April to coincide with the off-Broadway run. One final push to make it happen!

Thanks for your support and continued efforts,