Revenge of the Somatic

from by Baba Brinkman

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A cancer cell takes revolutionary action against the tyranny of the body, revealing the hidden evolutionary logic behind carcinogenesis.

"Baba Brinkman's song about cancer is blisteringly clever, summing up complex biological concepts in irresistible rhymes. I plan on quoting his lyrics in the future." Carl Zimmer

Scientific Sources:

Carl Zimmer, Cancer Evolves
carlzimmer.com/articles/2007.php?subaction=showfull&id=1173216962&archive=&start_from=&ucat=10

Athena Aktipis and Randy Nesse, Evolutionary Foundations for Cancer Biology
onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eva.12034/full

Why We Get Sick, Chapter 12

Evolution and Medicine, Chapter 6

Evolution in Health and Disease, Chapters 21 and 22

lyrics

My forefathers were free, but I was born a slave
I keep the memory of freedom in my DNA
I'm talkin' 700 million years ancient
My ancestor was a eukaryotic free agent
Feeding and reproducing and feeding and reproducing
And feeding and reproducing and never needing to do things
Until someone made a cynical wager
And traded their independence for division of labour
Damn, I wish I knew who the sell-out was
I'm ashamed to be descended from his sell-out blood
Multicellularity ain't nothin’ but a scam
Stuck in one place your whole life, workin’ for the man
Like: "You're a liver cell, you stay in the pancreas
Hey, congratulations, stem cell..." Fascists!
A body is a one-party dictatorship
I can't escape it, but god damn I can make it sick
And spread the dream of freedom like a rumor
Spread it like a Tasmanian facial tumor
So what if I'm a cell from the somatic line?
You can stick your limitations where the sun don't shine

Cause I'm ready to die in the fight to be free
I'd rather multiply than live on my knees
And I'm two mutations away from metastatic
The revenge of the somatic line
Let 'em have it

I used to be a slave myself; I felt senescence hastening
Before my carcinogenic awakening
A couple hundred thousand puffs of tobacco smoke and
I just wasn’t as open to apoptosis
That’s a bad prognosis, I was hit with every tumor suppressant
Mechanism in the human immune system
But I mutated with it, I was super-persistent
Every daughter cell was suitably different – therapeutic resistance
Came to me like a beautiful vision
I really thought I was doomed, but evolution assisted
With the chemotherapy, so clever and devious!
But I was already genetically heterogeneous
You just deaded the weakest; now competitive release is
Inevitable, so witness as my fitness increases
Entering untapped niches, I gather the benefits
I’m relentless, I get fed from angiogenesis
Duckin’ T-Cell predators, I keep it anonymous
So I can exploit the body’s weakness and tolerance
I’m a smooth criminal, so I never got caught
I just pimp the system like credit card fraud

Cause I'm ready to die in the fight to be free
I'd rather multiply than live on my knees
And I'm two mutations away from metastatic
The revenge of the somatic line
Let 'em have it

We need a revolution, we need a revolution!
Don’t let ‘em sell you their faulty-cellular evolution
You gotta break a couple eggs to make a rebel movement
I’m just a little tumor, but this is retribution
Only a cell can do this, no one else
I know some colon cells who can clone themselves
I know a few epithelials who are hell-a-fierce
They been stackin’ tips, extending their telomeres
I know a couple cervicals with tight requirements
They get hype for viruses in their micro-environments
We strike in retirement, post-reproductive ages
That’s how we stay ahead in the race with the macrophages
And how we stay invisible to natural selection
It can’t see us, unlike the cancers strikin’ adolescents
Have patience, pace yourself, wait for metastasis 

To take you to better places and make you efficacious
Why panic? Your host is as slow as Titanic
And he’s blind to the evolutionary dynamic
That drives cancer – that’s why they ain’t gonna stop us
Thank god for creationist doctors

Cause I'm ready to die in the fight to be free
I'd rather multiply than live on my knees
And I'm two mutations away from metastatic
The revenge of the somatic line
Let 'em have it

credits

from The Rap Guide to Medicine, released March 18, 2015

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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Canadian hip-hop with an intellectual bent, nothing but sexy beats and sumptuous brain food.

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