Review: The Rap Guide to Evolution
A Canadian rapper explains Darwin through dope rhymes.
Wed Jun 29 2011
Photograph: Audra Melton
UNNATURAL SELECTION Brinkman drops phat beats in exploring Darwinism
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Don't let the fratboy-chilling title deter you: This solo opus is smart, funny and seriously meta. Brinkman—a Caucasian, Canadian ex-Calvinist—eviscerates creationism with dope, data-filled raps that incorporate Darwin, DNA and a Dead Prez sing-along. But Brinkman doesn't just deconstruct the evolution of man; he examines the genesis of hip-hop, ruminates on gender relations and inner-city violence, and breaks down the nature of his own constantly changing show.A charismatic nerd, Brinkman is a goofy, self-deprecating MC, who talks about the ladies who love him (they're all grannies), and is as comfortable quoting Cypress Hill as he is rhyming intifada and Lysistrata. He deftly illuminates complicated scientific and biological concepts like sexual selection and mitochondria through his raps (which are quite skillful), and interesting but less theatrically compelling lectures.
Wendall K. Harrington's clever, pop-culture-filled projections and DJ Jamie Simmonds tight beats enhance Brinkman's musings. Although there is a script, the performer leaves room for improvisation. At the finale, he takes questions from the audience and uses them as inspiration for a freestyle rap (though he ain't gonna win any battles). Brinkman's been performing and honing this show for a few years, and its flexible structure means he can keep adding to it at will. In other words, this totally original and thought-provoking piece is in a constant state of evolution.
SoHo Playhouse (see Off Broadway). By Baba Brinkman. Dir. Dodd Loomis. With Brinkman. 1hr 20min. No intermission.