The Rap Guide to Consciousness

by Baba Brinkman

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1.
Consciousness: the sound of music, the scent of a woman Sensations, and the sense of a self at the centre of them Consciousness: the redness of a rose Your subjective assessment when you listen to lyrical flows Consciousness: you can erase it with anaesthesia Lose it in one second from a brain lesion or seizure Consciousness: say the word mindfully Now come and take a journey backwards in time with me… To nineteen seventy eight, when the cult, Heaven’s Gate Was still a couple of decades away from drinkin’ the Kool Aid Imagine the level of faith it takes to chug that arsenic Forget becomin’ a carcass, I’m gonna wake up in a starship! Let’s take it to Western Canada, nineteen seventy eight A baby was born and given the name B-A-B-A Baba, my father called me because of my calm expression Which he took as evidence that I was on a Siddhartha mission A Dalai Llama infant, a reincarnated mystic Who died enlightened and came back bringin’ his consciousness with him Imagine the faith that takes, but that’s really how I entered Now I treat the exploration of consciousness like an adventure I’ve done meditation, I’ve tried psychedelics and ayahuasca I’ve tried annihilating my consciousness lining up shots of vodka I’ve lucid dreamed and seen every kind of trippy But nothing competes with treating this subject scientifically
 Consciousness: once we know what it is Can we upload it to a robot as a code on a chip? Consciousness: what happens after we die? Come on science, is there any rational hope for an afterlife? Consciousness: is free will an illusion? Is it just a part of my brain that gives me the feelin’ of choosin’? Consciousness: say the word mindfully You are here in this moment, of all the places your mind could be Consciousness, you can check it with a probe Sample the stream at any moment and tell me what’s in the flow Of consciousness – it’s yours, so you should know You should, but there’s a lot you probably don’t notice though So let me show you somethin’ – let your eyes take in the scene Observe consciousness on your personal movie screen Now move your eyes at high speed, notice the image doesn’t blur Why? Because that picture isn’t seen, it’s inferred Some people have strokes and end up with anosognosia Completely blind, unable to recognize things even close up Bumping into furniture, fabricating reasons Claimin’ to see things perfectly and yes, completely believing it Consciousness, you can figure it by the results It’s no wonder some people end up completely blinded in cults Optical illusions, blind spots and blocked views Make sense of consciousness, and maybe even Fox News Consciousness: pay attention and keep records Everybody’s got it, so I’m surrounded by experts Consciousness: in a universe of confusion What’s the one thing that logically can’t be an illusion? Consciousness: I say this line first And the second line is designed to set up the repeated word Consciousness: so say the word mindfully Here in this moment, out of all the places your mind could be Consciousness, it’s really all that matters If something matters, it has to matter to a mind with conscious status A Buddha statue doesn’t feel any pain when you smash it Like the Taliban did – but a lot of people thought it was tragic And now I have kids, just wakin’ up to subjective experience What’s a mind gonna look like by the time they’re septuagenarians? When Wikipedia’s standard, neurologically implanted They’re gonna get some perspective on questions we can’t answer What’s it like to be a bat? There’s an explanatory gap Other minds differ from mine in ways I can’t really grasp What’s it like to be a white Canadian who’s 39, kickin’ a rap About consciousness? Only I can speak to that Its lyrical psilocybin, experience killer timin’  You hear it and feel the vibe and awareness is still arrivin’ It’s scary but still exciting, I’m barely able to hide it Every syllable designed to thrill and delight So welcome everyone, step inside the temple of my... Consciousness!
2.
Lyrics Are we dreamin’ baby? Or is this real? (Real recognize real) I’m tryin’ to find a sign But I can’t tell (Recognize real) I can feel you Inhale your smell (Real recognize real) Oh baby, let’s look Behind the veil (Recognize real)
 I’m comin’ at you from a brain in a vat A brain trapped in the skull of someone sayin’ a rap You couldn’t see from my perspective if your brain was attached To my optic nerve, ‘cause if your brain was intact It wouldn’t work, you’d just end up bringin’ your mind along So a better way to connect is via this dialogue I have a thought, I find a beat to recite it on And if it lands, you have a similar kind of thought Igniting a spark in dark places The fact that we can even share thoughts is amazing What’s a thought made of, if not information That’s contagious? I guess I caught the plague from Black Thought, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest They infected me with the memes to rhyme complex Conscious hip-hop, what a fine concept But I’m tryin’ to discover how I’m conscious How I can say a line with a line on deck Memorize rhymes and improvise content How can I invent? Practice makes perfect Okay, but what’s poppin’ up in the brain circuits? Are we dreamin’ baby? Or is this real? (Real recognize real) I’m tryin’ to find a sign But I can’t tell (Recognize real) I can feel you Inhale your smell (Real recognize real) Oh baby, let’s look Behind the veil (Recognize real) The brain is a pattern finder How much design work can you find in a rhyme verse? To make a rhyme, first you need a rhymer An organism with no intelligent designer From Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas People thought if you wanted design, you need a mind first But it’s kinda the reverse, a mind is a product Of a mindless process that builds it from the bottom up Physical stuff pushing physical stuff A perspective from a quintessence of dust It was a blind watchmaker that perfected us It took a billion years to make a brain and connect it up Eighty billions neurons in a network Each with seven thousand synaptic connectors A minimum of fifty trillion intersections Such a pretty materialistic picture Daniel Dennett: Yes we have a soul But it’s made of lots of tiny robots Not a single one of the cells that compose you Knows who you are or cares At the moment I recite these lyrics I'm conscious Savouring experiential nuances Forget objectives, it's all about the process Of deriving subjectivity from objects Tiny objects, with action potentials Axons with potassium ion differentials Thinkin’ people tend to think that thinkin’ is mental But thinkin’ is physical too, it’s the blinkin’ of signals So enter the present moment, and really notice it How hot or cold is it? The details are so vivid It’s encoded in your cells in a coalition That's what your soul’s composed of if it's no fiction Pay attention for a second or more That’s enlightenment, like opening refrigerator doors Check and check and check again in there, it’s like it’s never dark But when you ain’t checkin’ tell me who’s really in charge? Forget the mysticism, look for the mechanism That differentiates oblivion from recognition Either stay trapped in subjective intuitions Or take the escape hatch: the scientific method Are we dreamin’ baby? Or is this real? (Real recognize real) I’m tryin’ to find a sign But I can’t tell (Recognize real) I can feel you Inhale your smell (Real recognize real) Oh baby, let’s look Behind the veil (Recognize real) Daniel Dennett: Each trillion robot team is gathered together In a breathtakingly efficient regime that has no dictator But manages to keep itself organized to repel outsiders And serve as the headquarters of one conscious self One mind
3.
Lyrics Anil Seth: We don’t just passively perceive the world We actively generate it So perception, figuring out what’s there Has to be a process of informed guesswork In which the brain combines sensory signals With its prior expectations or beliefs about the way the world is The world we experience comes as much from the inside out As from the outside in Let me show you how to be a good Bayesian Change your predictions after takin’ information in And if you’re thinkin’ I’ll be less than amazin’ Let’s adjust those expectations What’s a Bayesian? It’s someone who cares about evidence And doesn’t jump to assumptions based on intuitions and prejudice A Bayesian makes prediction on the best available info And adjusts the probability, ‘cause every belief is provisional And when I kick a flow, mostly I’m watchin’ eyes widen Maybe ‘cause my likeness lowers expectations of tight rhymin’ How would I know, unless I’m rhymin’ in front of a bunch of blind men? Droppin’ placebo-controlled science like I’m Richard Feynman Is it because of my looks? Or the fact that I talk like I’m mad for books? Either way, in the ecosystem of rap, I’m the platypus So my patron saint on stage is Reverend Bayes Just watch me update the equations in everyone’s brains Teachin’ a crowd about probabilistical statistical science For instance, if the president’s a degenerate liar Remember your priors and be skeptical whenever he’s testifyin’ Is it always inaccurate? No, but you discount outliers Especially when he's testifyin' about non-citizens Muslims, African Americans, and other victims of dog whistlin’ Bigoted unconscious bias, unreliable information The antidote is to learn how to think like a Bayesian So let me show you how to be a good Bayesian Change your predictions after takin’ information in And if you’re thinkin’ I’ll be less than amazin’ Let’s adjust those expectations Let me show you how to be a good Bayesian Change calculations after takin’ fresh data in Those predictions that your brain is makin’? Let’s get them on a solid foundation MC Lars: It was 2009 and I was opening for Nas Predicted they would love us, hypothesis was wrong Crowd presented evidence, booing while I rhymed They’d rather hear “The Message”, or “New York State of Mind” Was it my flow? No, I hardly lacked ability Rapping with agility, check the probability Not likely to give up under fierce choleric scrutiny Refused to stop the show, though their peer review was news to me Confusing me, like the anti-science right I was drippin’ like the ice caps, guess it was not my night But I kept it Bayesian, ‘cause the lane I’m in is solid Anticipate results with my a priori knowledge So never let a hater shower you with data That tells you you should quit, drop the mic and be like “later” Two more songs, then like OJ, I was out Saw Nas backstage and thanked him, grabbed my bag and then I bounced Let me show you how to be a good Bayesian Change your predictions after takin’ information in And if you’re thinkin’ I’ll be less than amazin’ Let’s adjust those expectations Let me show you how to be a good Bayesian Change calculations after takin’ fresh data in Those predictions that your brain is makin’? Let’s get them on a solid foundation Mega Ran: Felt like I was still a baby when I first learned to be a Bayesian I would find myself within a constant state of frustration before the day begins  On Facebook, my sample consisted of people I called my friends Whose self-aggrandizing posts constantly aligned with the latest trends  Using inconclusive evidence, to assess the probability  That people will never examine what is true, and accept a lie willingly From my observation came a question: Are people really so naive? Or is there a correlation between make believe and what is on the screen? Cause it seems, that we have forgotten this, that truth and politics are opposites  Humans are intelligent, and that’s the lay up of the hypothesis So I would conduct an experiment by layin’ down a simple rap And wondering, would every one of the people who heard each line call it fact? Even if it were verifiable, supportable, sustainable Considering the source, would anyone ask how their info was attainable? So I analyzed my data, the context in which I framed it in 50 percent would agree with me, takin’ the info I gave to them  Maybe if I was the platinum pop star rockin’ football stadiums And not a little known rap artist, whose status strictly subterranean  I can conclude they would place a higher value on the power of my cranium But minds I'm forever changin’ them, and that my friends is Bayesian Let me show you how to be a good Bayesian Change your predictions after takin’ information in And if you’re thinkin’ I’ll be less than amazin’ Let’s adjust those expectations Let me show you how to be a good Bayesian Change calculations after takin’ fresh data in Those predictions that your brain is makin’? Let’s get them on a solid foundation
4.
Zombie 02:25 video
Lyrics Picture a zombie version of a hip-hop head Not a flesh-eating zombie from The Walking Dead This zombie listens to Nas and Dead Prez He's kind of old school, like Busta Rhymes with dreads He’s not the kind of zombie eating brains for a meal But he’s way more gruesome and way harder to kill ‘Cause people always take him for a regular guy  He can pass any physical test you devise You want to question this zombie on the relative merits Of Biggie and Tupac? He knows all of the lyrics And when they died he cried, and poured liquor on concrete This hip-hop zombie is kind of a big softie So what exactly gives him “zombieness"? Oh, did I forget to mention? He lacks consciousness He’s indistinguishable from a human being Except it's not “like anything” to be him At rap shows, he goes wild when they hype the crowd But there's nothing goin’ on inside – his lights are out You could even take a scanner and examine his brain You’d find every single part of it exactly the same And if you asked him, he’d say “Hell yeah, I’m conscious I’m conscious of the fly ladies with the tight haunches!” He's not socially awkward, he's not unkind He’s just a hip-hop zombie with an unconscious mind Unconsciously quoting rap songs with bravado “‘Cause you only live once, YOLO, that’s the motto!” Could you imagine that? If so a conscious mind  Might be more than the sum of physical stuff inside Or maybe he’s no more imaginable Than four corners on a triangular “O” And if you think you can imagine this zombie Try to imagine a way to prove that it’s not me Anil Seth: Now at one time, people thought the property of being alive Could not be explained by physics and chemistry That life had to be more than just mechanism But people no longer think that As biologists got on with the job Of explaining the properties of living systems The basic mystery of “what life is” started to fade away And people didn’t propose any more magical solutions Like a “force of life” or an “elan vital” So, as with life, so with consciousness Once we start explaining its properties In terms of things happening inside brains and bodies The apparently insoluble mystery of “what consciousness is” Should start to fade away
5.
Dylan 04:55 video
Lyrics You know the feelin’ when you’re chillin’ like a villain Dealin’ with no stress, like a room with no ceilin’ Just open, and you like the rhyme “–illin’” So much, you name your first son Dylan? That’s the feelin’ I had November 12th When I first held Dylan and fell under his spell It was three days after the election from hell When the Trump cartel captured Winterfell Remember that feelin’? Just ill and disgusted With political drivel on Twitter from Trumpkins Tellin’ us the civic discussion is critically busted You know that feelin’? Well Dylan doesn’t What’s it like to be a human baby? Just a “blooming buzzing confusion” maybe? I look in his eyes and try to read his thoughts and Find myself wondering whether he’s got them Or just sensations, chaotic and messy I wanna relate, should I take some LSD? So I can stop thinkin’ and just exist I mean, look at the kid! Ignorance is bliss… You know the feelin’ when you find the right words To express your thoughts, connect and get heard? Y’all know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’ Animals don’t though, and neither does Dylan You know the feelin’ of bladder control When you don’t even go when you have to go? Y’all know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’ Even dogs know that feelin’, but not Dylan Dylan doesn’t know the feelin’ of regret Or anticipation of future stress Is he conscious? Yes… or maybe not just yet There could be several different levels of consciousness Does he have a subjective perspective? I guess so But is it like a fish, or like a gecko? The kid started out as a single cell About a year ago, but don’t call it a “miracle” Call it a triumph of modern medicine Dylan was an excellent IVF specimen I know ‘cause he spent a month in a freezer So we could check his genes first and do research Sometimes evolution needs a boost And it worked too: Aww, he’s so cute But when does he begin to be a mental self? I’ve seen a picture of him at a hundred cells And I wondered: when does consciousness emerge? At the paramecium level, or nematode worm? I was still a proud dad though When the kid had a tail and gills like a tadpole You know the feelin’ when you comprehend And solve a problem that was tryin’ to box you in? You know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’ Animals don’t though, and neither does Dylan You know the feelin’ when you wanna to suck a boob So bad that nothin’ but a nipple’s gonna do? Who knows the feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’ Hetero men, lesbians, and Dylan Baby mammals, they’re so beguiling Dylan’s got skills, eating, smiling Babbling a little bit of call and response Communicating all of his needs and wants But that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing Planning, considering, executing Yeah, Dylan’s got reasons to do stuff But are they his reasons, or evolution’s? A cuckoo chick doesn’t laugh or cry It focusses on host chick infanticide And if Dylan was a Barbary macaque He’d be clingin’ instinctively to mama’s back It’s easy to anthropomorphize the mind Of an animal, but evolution is blind And thinkin’ is costly; a baby bird Doesn’t need it to get its mama to feed it And Dylan doesn’t need to reflect on his cuteness To recruit parental contributions All he needs to do is “goo goo” and ooh child Resistance is futile You know the feelin’ when you make a whole plan In your mind, strategize and revise and adapt? Y’all know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’ Animals don’t though, and neither does Dylan You know the feelin’ when you’re lost in a memory Daydreamin’ off in a thoughtful revery Y’all know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’ You and me see eye to eye, but not Dylan
6.
Lyrics Forget me not, love When I’m gone You are the platform I want to be trending on Listen as I remedy my limited status and recognition Situation with scientifical rappin' I got a lotta competition to get your attention From other rappers to the fittest Kardashian I’m kinda shameless with the fame-seekin’ My aim is ekin’ out a piece of real estate when I’m speakin’ Infiltrating a niche in your mental ecosystem Flippin’ a switch and initiating a sequence The scanner captures a pattern of activation A cascade of chain reactions and avalanches That’s “Fame in your Brain” – know what I’m sayin’? If the answer’s “yes”, then I guess I have access I’m trending… but only locally Vocally, in your cortical workspace platinum Globally I’m not exactly getting broadcasted But if your brain is active then I got what I’m after Forget me not, love When I’m gone You are the platform I want to be trending on Forget me not, love Let me not fade Just let our song play Again and again and again No fifteen minutes of fame Consciousness is nothin’ but fame in the brain And if enough brains remember your name you get fame And if you get too much of it you can't step into public places Without gazes and cameras aimin' your way And I'm no fan of binoculars so I rock a verse Always sayin' something unpopular to chase 'em away Like "You ain't nothin’ but ignitions in coalitions Of neurons activating and fading away" Your subconscious is messy, unconscious circuits are always Processing everything, cross-talking and guessing Like “What’s he talkin’ ‘bout? It sounds complicated I’m hungry. What’s for dinner? I wonder what’s on television?” Until a signal gets amplified, and enters into Circulation in your cortical connections And that's when you can flexibly convert it into action Like: “Wait a second, who is this rapper? He's excellent…” Forget me not, love When I’m gone You are the platform I want to be trending on Forget me not, love Let me not fade Just let our song play Again and again and again No fifteen minutes of fame All the thoughts and feelings you’re always dealin' with The brilliant visuals and perceptual vividness It's either an incredible waste, or an adaptation Enhancing your basic Darwinian fitness So bear witness to inner mental richness And communicate it with linguistics Food for thought, maybe we only savour flavours Just to be able to tell people that “it’s delicious” I know it doesn’t feel like that. From the inside Experience feels like it’s intrinsic But why would natural selection give us the talent To reflect, if not to share reflections with some listeners? So can you savour the flavour of my lyrics? If not, you’ll probably tell people “it’s best to skip this” But if so, if you think the info-rich flow is dope Tell everyone that it’s delicious! Forget me not, love When I’m gone You are the platform I want to be trending on Forget me not, love Let me not fade Just let our song play Again and again and again No fifteen minutes of fame
7.
Mary 03:14 video
Lyrics Mary was a walkin’ talkin’ lab experiment She studied rap music without ever hearin' it She was born deaf, congenitally So she had no way to check check out the melody She became a scientist and studied the brain She could watch it change while you listen to Lil Wayne She could strap a subject into a scanner And play them Julez Montana, Eminem and David Banner She could see the spreading waves of alpha beta gamma  When Desiigner would say "panda panda panda panda" She wanted to know whether the physical facts Could ever match the experience of listenin' to rap So she gathered every physical fact in the universe Relevant to this music that she had never heard Indulge me, it’s a thought experiment Every physical fact that exists, she was aware of it And once her brain was suitably enhanced The last step was a set of cochlear implants She cues up a song on the boom box  Something old school from Illmatic by Nas…
 The thief’s theme, play me at night they won’t act right The fiend of hip-hop has got me stuck like a crack pipe Whoah, that flow is so menacing But the question is, does Mary learn anything? Remember, she already knew everything And not just everything you know, every single Physical cause and effect that exists Are you picturing this total omniscience? No cheating! She’s not just really smart Mary comprehends every single part Of the physical brain, right down the atom Every neuron, every synapse, every pattern So was it beyond anything even she could imagine? Or was she like: “Meh, that’s what I thought would happen!” Heather Berlin: The basic unit of the nervous system is the neuron It’s a fairly complex cell, but its basic job Is simply to transmit electrical and chemical signals And the human brain has 86 to 100 billion neurons There’s more connections in the human brain Than there are stars in the milky way, think about that So we have a whole inner cosmos inside of our head The brain is basically like an information-processing machine Everything that you experience, from the moment you wake up From a deep, dreamless sleep, until you go back to sleep again Or into a coma, or death – everything you experience Your thought, your emotions, your sensations They are all being encoded in these neurons firing In this information-processing machine But, what’s really interesting is that much of what’s happening In your brain is actually happening outside of awareness And it’s a myth that we only ten percent of our brain We actually use all of our brain, none of it is redundant But we’re only conscious of a very little bit of it Much of what’s happening that’s affecting your decisions You’re making, your behaviour, it’s happening because of Processes that are occurring unconsciously
8.
Lyrics I had a conversation With a cephalopod Sippin’ on psilocybin We integrated information A skeptic would call it “Anthropomorphizin’” Just a bloody reductivist Bustin’ the bubble Of a pan-psychic But I swear to god That octopus was conscious, y’all We was vibin’ Damn, look at those eyes, look at those legs Baby, tell me, what is you thinkin'? People call me Baba Brinkman, and I’m trippin’ From this mushroom tea I’m sippin’ Who am I? Just another Homo sapien We’re the last in a long line of hominids And it’s been a long time since one of us Had a common ancestor with an octopus Look at you – you’re a living alien! I’m like Amy Adams in Arrival Not as attractive, but just as passionate About the planet's survival And I wanna know, how can you be so Good at problem solvin’ and camouflagin’ When your brain is small, but your semi-autonomous arms Have two thirds of all your neurons in them? It’s like that theory of consciousness Called “Integrated Information” That says any system is conscious If it's connected up and differentiated It’s got that mathematical figure called "Phi" That's quantifiably calculated  As a measure of how much the whole is greater Than the sum of the parts when they’re isolated You probably couldn’t calculate it yourself I mean, you’ve only got eight legs But it’s kind of a measurement of redundancy Like the compression that makes JPEGs And you understand "compression" don’t you? Yeah, you can fit through soda bottle heads No bones about it, just viscous organs Tentacles, and a little bit of cartilage In your eyes I’m drowning I’m stuck on you Wrap your arms around me I’m a sucker for you I like your Phi, baby There’s not much time left Be my cephalophile While I’m still conscious The thing is, if this theory is right And I can't say if it’s right cause I'm trippin’ hard But if it's right, there might be “something it's like” To be an octopus' arm Some kind of subjective tentacle perspective A mind that you would have nine of And when you swim in a straight line I guess those minds Line up and you would combine them? You must think I’m a serious hippy But it’s not me, this theory is trippy It’s got multidimensional crystals Distilling experiences mysteriously And Phi is uncalculatable I mean, incalculable – unrelatable Even a worm has a Phi of ten to the power Of four hundred and sixty eight or so So what kind of Phi do you and I get? This whole theory is pan-psychic Is the universe really conscious Or is it just the psilocybin that I did? I’m tryin’ stay open-minded Consciousness is unified and can’t be divided But when I’m high, the temporal signal diversity Gets elevated inside it Check out the magnetoencephalographic Charts my signal is off My uncompressible thoughts got me trippin’ And talkin’ to cephalopods I had to go home and sleep it off Later I came back to see my eight-legged friend And the aquarium staff told me That she already laid eggs and was dead I had a conversation With a cephalopod Sippin’ on psilocybin We integrated information A skeptic would call it “Anthropomorphizin’” Just a bloody reductivist Bustin’ the bubble Of a pan-psychic But I swear to god That octopus was conscious, y’all We was vibin’ In your eyes I’m drowning I’m stuck on you Wrap your arms around me I’m a sucker for you I like your Phi, baby There’s not much time left Be my cephalophile While I’m still conscious
9.
Lyrics Anil Seth: Imagine being a brain You’re locked inside a bony skull Trying to figure what’s out there in the world There’s no light inside the skull There’s no sound either All you’ve got to go on are Streams of electrical impulses Which are only indirectly related To things in the world Whatever they may be While you’re dancin’, I’ll be calculating Chances in your thoughts Here to guide you From inside you… Look around and see faces, places You really think you’re takin' in this information From the outside? No, it’s generated From within, a controlled hallucination Cascades comin’ from the top down Interpreting ambiguity all around The brain doesn’t “see sights” or “hear sounds” It takes in signals that it’s gotta figure out “Bam Bam Bam” go the axons firing Action potentials comin’ up the wiring What is it? A friend or a predator hiding? Threats to survival are so exciting Make a prediction, compare it to the signal Calculate the difference, what’s the residual? Let that info update your best guesses In a cascade of predictive processes You see colours, I see numbers You hear music, I hear code You see lovers under covers I’m in darkness on my own While you’re dancin’, I’ll be calculating Chances in your thoughts Here to guide you from inside you I’m the Wizard of Odds “Bam Bam Bam” go the axon signals And somehow the brain converts those to visuals? Even fast asleep with eyes closed When there’s no feedback from the outside world To revise the code, to give it relevance Interpreting all the predictable elements In the images, the brain does it superbly Only novel information is newsworthy And it’s not just perception only It’s action and cognition, predictive coding Has to figure out whether a signal’s phoney So take steps, get your fingers probing Take what you can from points of contact The Bayesian Brain makes bets on dog tracks Or wolf tracks, or whatever's up next That’s relevant to survival prospects Or reproduction, let’s not forget The brain calculates the odds of hot sex Every few minutes, or seconds, or less Depending on the present context… You see colours, I see numbers You hear music, I hear code You see lovers under covers I’m in darkness on my own While you’re dancin’, I’ll be calculating Chances in your thoughts Here to guide you from inside you I’m the Wizard of Odds Expectations of expectations Governing internal bodily sensations Maintaining a sense of homeostasis As the brain sits in a lonely oasis Just an organ, a tool that’s evolved To do a job, to compute the odds Of the causes of its own moods and thoughts And the contours of what a body moves across Even emotions are just predictions Of internal and external influences I get pissed off! And that’s just my senses Signalling a preference for something different That’s how my ancestors got selected Okay stop, cool off, pay attention To my sense of self and… god damn I predict myself therefore I am! You see colours, I see numbers You hear music, I hear code You see lovers under covers I’m in darkness on my own While you’re dancin’, I’ll be calculating Chances in your thoughts Here to guide you from inside you I’m the Wizard of Odds Deepak Chopra: Just tell me: how does electrochemistry Produce a thought, an idea And you get the million dollars I will live up to this But it has to be a valid scientific explanation For the biological basis of an idea One thought, any thought… One thought, one million dollars
10.
Room 01:52 video
Lyrics Picture an old man in a room with a drum machine A book of rhymes, and a long instruction sheet With the details of how to spit raps An encyclopedia of hip-hop syntax The old man doesn't know how to rap But somehow he still sounds dope on a track He can even kick it with syncopated delivery Lyrically sketchin' pictures so vividly That outside the room, people never imagine  The old man is less than a wizard at rappin' ‘Cause they can't see it happen, it's a black box In goes a concept, out comes a rap that's hot Some people think it's Jay-Z in the room Eminem or Kanye that’s makin' the tunes But really it's just an old man who’s not a rapper And his non rap skills are a non-factor ‘Cause this old man has a set of instructions For kickin’ raps with such impeccable functions That it’s not even readable, it’s computer code A digital cypher, totally inscrutable So, the old man is nothing but a cog In a machine designed to produce hip-hop He adds nothing, no skills, no comprehension No linguistic invention It’s the code that’s intelligent, the code understands What the old man doesn’t: how to bust raps And that's just “functionalism” in a nutshell Dope rap is what dope rap does well So what does it take to make a record? Just a few billion computations every second And why would you assume that I'm human instead Of a machine with a man in a room in my head?
11.
Lyrics I woke up from a coma, unable to communicate They called it a “persistent vegetative state” Nobody home, Terri Schiavo But I was in there, trapped inside my dome I couldn’t even blink eyelashes But I could still control my synapses Routine fMRI might find action So I stayed mentally dynamic And never let my mind panic And that’s when a surprise happened Doctors tried scanning me They saw my brain patterns reacting Jaws drop, like Oh my god, can it be? I just wanted to dance and scream Yes I’m in here! I’m tryin’ to communicate! But I still couldn’t move or blink Just think, how can I get a message out? They told me different things to think about Imagine walkin’ through your house Or playing in a tennis match! Forget that I want Implants, forget a digital wristband I wanna be cognitively enhanced With implants, like Angelina I’ll pass a test from a cancer screener With implants, a nanobot’ll beat it Robotic bodies for quadriplegics Implants, oh you wanna debate? Okay, just lemme get my implants, wait… Let me get the implants hooked up Ray Kurzweil, hey, give me the good stuff I want a boost from computer hackers Surgically implanted google glasses Prosthetics are often injurious Don’t try to get it from Oscar Pistorius First they go to the disabled Then everyone else gets the payload Okay so, now we’ve got a channel open So much imaging, the scanner’s smokin’ They can ask me questions And I can answer with mental images Imagine playing tennis for “yes” That activates my motor cortex Inside my head in total darkness And for “no”, picture your apartment And imagine walkin’ inside it That lights up my parahippocampal gyrus Now they can ask my name and age We communicate; we’re on the same page We think you’re conscious, can you confirm that? Oh yeah, playin’ in a tennis match Is Donald Trump a better president Than the previous White House resident? What? That rodeo clown? I’m walkin’ through every room in my house right now! My mood has improved though But this blood flow stuff is too slow I want implants, forget a digital wristband I wanna be cognitively enhanced With implants, like Angelina I’ll pass a test from a cancer screener With implants, a nanobot’ll beat it Robotic bodies for quadriplegics Implants, oh you wanna debate? Okay, just let me get my implants, wait… Oh yeah, I made a full recovery Came out of the coma, the media was lovin’ me But I can’t stop now that I’ve had a taste Elon Musk, hook up the neural lace! It’s like smokin’ opium I confess, I’m a techno-utopian As the cost of electrodes drops I want injections of digital botox Oh gosh, I’m so into the benefits There’s no cost, no loss to contend with I’m fittin’ to get myself a microchip in my fingerprint Any citizen who isn’t into it’s uncompetitive Thomas Edison, and Benjamin Franklin Every innovator who ever invented a gadget That’s evolution in action! From swingin’ from branches to mental enhancements I’m sick of whiners crying at new developments I want robotics and artificial intelligence I want a machine that can invent a machine That can invent a better machine indefinitely And at the pinnacle, we’ll have machines rappin’ Nah, on second thought, that’ll never happen I got the last job that’ll go to computers Peace to Amazon, Apple, Uber I say the proof is in the pudding Let’s have a debate: is improvement is a good thing? I’ll take the technology option You can be the human team and I’ll be Watson
 With the implants, forget a digital wristband I wanna be cognitively enhanced With implants, like Angelina I’ll pass a test from a cancer screener With implants, a nanobot’ll beat it Robotic bodies for quadriplegics Implants, oh you wanna debate? Okay, just let me get my implants, wait…
12.
Can't Stop 04:28
Lyrics Daniel Dennett: Many people think the implications of this are dreadful We don’t really have “free will”, and nothing really matters Listen to this lyric, it isn’t freestyle, it’s written I wrote it of my own free will, it was my decision Every intimate constituent part of it was deliberate I considered how to script it and how to stand and deliver it Forethought, but that doesn't mean nothin’ comes before thought Take to look at the source of your thoughts, you might find the door's blocked If every decision is made in a part of my brain that's invisible to me That's “will”, but with a subliminal origin, I'm not thinkin' it's too “free” But if not me, who was it that chose to bust the rhyme? And if the clock was reset, I bet I could not have done otherwise If every molecule and brain state was in the same place The same thing would happen, so what sense does blame make? Or praise make? I’m trainin’ to bring nothin’ but my game face Even if the outcome of the race goes back to big bang days In a deterministic universe that obeys the laws of physics It takes a magic wand to make a truly uncaused decision So there’s no such thing as absolute responsibility And the more we discover, the more we degrade culpability Every brain tumour found in someone who shoots up a playground Tells us that we’re nothin’ but brain tumours all the way down I can’t stop, I won’t stop livin’ Makin’ decisions as if I can pivot I can’t stop, wont stop sellin’ mad “isms” Natural, rational, and compatiblism I can’t stop attraction and avoidance Trapped with no choice but to make choices I can’t stop, whatever happens Free will, I’m determined to have it Daniel Dennett: People are surprisingly good At distracting themselves From ominous prospects But don’t give up hope Quantum physics to the rescue! But wait, what if a random quantum fluctuation Breaks up the universe’s basic deterministic nature A swerve we can surf, a wave-particle duality That puts a human agent back in the chain of causality Don’t waste my time with that quantum tomfoolery If a swerve is truly random, it’s got nothin’ to do with me! I want free will that puts me back in the drivers seat And makes me the author of the rhymes I recite on beats I spent a lot of time trainin’ my brain to rhyme At the drop of a dime; that’s a kind of freedom I can claim as mine Freedom isn’t a metaphysical state at the level of atoms It’s a collection of talents that each of us can develop and manage Freedom evolves, evolution gave us the building blocks Absolute freedom? Maybe not, but more than a digger wasp And more than prefrontal cortex lesion patients living today I’ll take the freedom I’ve got over the non-freedom of Phineas Gage Freedom is having a brain that can reject options Detect imposters and dodge sucker punches like boxers
 Freedom is having a brain that can navigate obstacles 
In a continuous exploration of the adjacent possible
 A brain that’s free enough to identify goals and pursue them
 And recognize the reasons why, even if it’s prone to illusions
 Freedom, it’s what you have to skip a song or rewind it
 And it’s yours to lose, if you lack the will to find it

 I can’t stop, I won’t stop livin’
 Makin’ decisions as if I can pivot can’t stop, wont stop sellin’ mad “isms”
 Natural, rational, and compatiblism 
I can’t stop attraction and avoidance
 Trapped with no choice but to make choices
 I can’t stop, whatever happens
 Free will, I’m determined to have it
 Daniel Dennett:
 Free will is like the air we breath
 We count on it, but it is neither a 
 Metaphysical background condition
 Nor a fundamental physical condition 
It evolved, and is still evolving
13.
Memes Up 04:15
Lyrics I kick flows for ya, deliver info for ya Obstacles to thought, get rid of those for ya How can a protozoa develop into a lawyer Without any supernatural magic? Just let me show ya Evolution, it's blind and kind of ruthless It finds designs by trying different types of mutants Mindless movements, randomly finding uses As if the only way to get a rhyme to fit the music Was to write a billion versions of a verse with tiny variations  And play them back, to see what difference each difference is makin' Stepwise exploration of design spaces With a lot fewer ways to love it than hate it We got a special kind of brain as Homo sapiens Genetic variation is such a slow way to change it Now that we can get infected and enculturated  With memes, the pace of evolution is getting crazy So get your memes up, try to read stuff If you don’t read get a book on speaker If you want to be a truth-seeker Get some memes up in your cerebrum
 Get your memes up, try to see stuff If you can’t travel, get on Wikipedia Get it from a teacher, or social media Get your memes up if you want freedom Ever since the beginning of multicellularity Evolution tended to favour one of two strategies Either anchor your body in place like clams and trees Or navigate actively like salmon and geese Humans and fleas, navigators  Need to have a brain to chase prey and evade danger A brain is a control centre, action taker But it never was a generator of thoughts, that came later When a certain animal evolved a certain talent Recursive language, abstract words and grammar The ability to turn inwards and sample  The inner channel, which in turn turned it cinematic You've been collecting memes since you were just a kid That's how you can speak and know the date and do arithmetic That's what recognition is, if your consciousness is rich It's a list of memes that your brain has been infected with So get your memes up, try to read stuff If you don’t read get a book on speaker If you want to be a truth-seeker Get some memes up in your cerebrum
 Get your memes up, try to see stuff If you can’t travel, get on Wikipedia Get it from a teacher, or social media Get your memes up if you want freedom Freedom from automatic action by any means! Memes will set you free, but not just any memes Beautiful memes give us true beliefs  False beliefs take away freedom like skinny jeans That's what it means to “know what your doin’" With a ready explanation for any questioning human A reason that's not a reason discovered by evolution A reason represented in a mind, that's a new one My daughter's three years old, she's given limited freedom Citizenship is restricted when you're deficient in reason But she's got a brain that's voracious for takin' memes in So she's getting more and more conscious with every season You can't do much work with your bare hands, love  And your bare brain isn't equipped to understand much  You can either live in a state of incomprehension Or actively get your memes jacked up  So get your memes up, try to read stuff If you don’t read get a book on speaker If you want to be a truth-seeker Get some memes up in your cerebrum
 Get your memes up, try to see stuff If you can’t travel, get on Wikipedia Get it from a teacher, or social media Get your memes up if you want freedom
14.
Lyrics I never could sit still and just watch a show from my seat I had to peak behind the scenes if I was intrigue Stick my brain inside an fMRI machine And see this piece of meat that’s somehow my ground of being Three pounds of ground beef, every single experience Originates somewhere in its various signal carriers I met a scientist who could explain the brain areas Satisfactorily, so I naturally married her Now I got a baby mama ready with the quickest answers She’s the opposite of sycophantic with the wicked banter And if I ever take the kids out and forget the pampers She flips out like “Use your frickin’ hippocampus!” She’s got a doctorate in consciousness and taught me lots of it I get my lyrics peer reviewed over sausages She loves to break down my views and postulates And her seal of approval is good for boosting my confidence And when we get to finishing each other’s thoughts I wonder where my consciousness starts and her’s stops I think I must be running her perspective internally Like a PC on a Mac virtual machine Baby, maybe one day you’ll lose to me some kind of dementia And I promise I’ll do my best to always try to remember But when the connections are severed, what’s left of us? Let’s make the best of this quick existence, love We were nothing when this all began And soon we’ll disappear And be nothing once again But until then, we’re still here We’re stardust, we’re memories Flesh and blood and self-aware We’re dancin’ electricity While we’re still here So give me roses, give me oceans Give me love and tears Give me all the riches of my senses Stimulation, while I’m still here Newsflash! It might come as a huge shocker But there’s no evidence for souls, or chakras Every mathematician, every musician, author Architect, smooth talker, nothin’ but clockwork Awkward! What a terrible tragedy Everybody hallucinating their own little fantasy And when the details agree, we call it “reality” We call it a “self” – it’s a centre of narrative gravity Another set of cells that tell you how good it feels Adding to an autobiographical magnetic field Memories cling to it, and continue to build Until a person emerges from within a set of skills A person emerges from a physical brain Matter in motion, but it can’t remain There’s no reason to think consciousness continues After the brain degrades, or moves to different venues Unless you consider wishful thinkin’ a “reason” In which case there’s a lot you should probably believe in But there’s reason to believe in this We can do things to improve the experience Of all the other sentient beings sharing this Sequence of sensational, celebratable moments So take a deep breath And see what you notice We were nothing when this all began And soon we’ll disappear And be nothing once again But until then, we’re still here We’re stardust, we’re memories Flesh and blood and self-aware We’re dancin’ electricity While we’re still here So give me roses, give me oceans Give me love and tears Give me all the riches of my senses Stimulation, while I’m still here Anil Seth: With a greater sense of understanding Comes a greater sense of wonder And a greater realization that we are part of And not apart from the rest of nature And, when the end of consciousness comes There’s nothing to be afraid of Nothing at all
15.
N.E.R.D. 03:54
No one ever really dies, have you heard? That’s the moniker of the hip-hop group N.E.R.D. You don’t die, you fly like a bird To the spirit in the sky, and you merge And sure, I find that oh so comforting Brain dies, mind goes on functioning Perceptions, thoughts and emotions Within you get to continue to as “soul stuff” Or resurrect in a body that’s fresh Like a new set of kicks, stitched out of flesh In which case, I guess Heaven’s Gate Never made a mistake when sippin’ the Kool Aid And maybe I really did reincarnate From a mystical sage in the bronze age My father called my Baba; he thought he saw some kinda Dalai Llama-level karma, and I could sell nirvana To Deepak Chopra’s audience, opening chakras But opening Pandora’s box exposed me To scientific approaches to consciousness And oh, my soul got lost in it…
 I never been the coolest nerd Tellin’ you what you prefer Just lookin’ for the truest words Revealin’ this universe And how you emerge For a few short years Until you return Beautiful nerd
 No! Everyone really dies Beyond this existence oblivion lies What’s it like? To be a person that’s dead? What was it like for you, before your parents met? It’s like nothing, it’s a dreamless sleep It’s consciousness that’s completely ceased Death is total, we don’t get to “go home” – no We get one life, and this is it, YOLO And if you have a soul, it’s distributed in code Across your parietal, frontal, and temporal lobe And when they disintegrate, it’s got nowhere to go Unless we can learn to upload it to silicone As a computer code, which would be super dope It might happen in your life, except it probably won’t So, there’s no encore, this is the show And you’re just on for a minute or so
 I never been the coolest nerd Tellin’ you what you prefer Just lookin’ for the truest words Revealin’ this universe And how you emerge For a few short years Until you return Beautiful nerd
 So, everyone really dies, great Heaven’s Gate was a tragic waste Life is sacred, ‘cause it can’t be replaced No other brain has ever been connected that way And you can change it, meditation is pretty useful But I’m not here to tell you to take it like Metamucil I’m just here to make a basic prediction “No one ever really dies” is a comforting fiction Life is complicated but the scientific method is The best way to break it down, and make sense of it Our existence is limited, not infinite But that makes it more precious and intimate I’m not tryin’ to be mean I’m just tryin’ to reach out to sentient beings With brains, pleasures and pains, hopes and dreams Not to not die, but to live in between I never been the coolest nerd Tellin’ you what you prefer Just lookin’ for the truest words Revealin’ this universe And how you emerge For a few short years Until you return Beautiful nerd

about

Beats, rhymes, and brain science combine in Baba Brinkman's latest "peer reviewed rap" project exploring the material basis of consciousness. How do you get a thinking, feeling, experiencing person from an assembly of physical parts? Baba himself is made of trillions of cells, and none of them knows who he is or cares, but somehow those cells combine to produce some of the world's most thought-provoking rap music. Listen and find out how.

Scientific consultation by Anil Seth and Heather Berlin.

Bibliography:
Daniel C Dennett, From Bacteria to Bach and Back Again
Stanislas Dehaene, Consciousness and the Brain
Anil Seth, The 30 Second Brain
Christof Koch, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist
Sean Carroll, The Big Picture
Susan Blackmore, Consciousness, An Introduction

Digital download comes with lyric sheet pdf

credits

released April 20, 2018

Album Produced by Tom Caruana and Soulful Spider
Executive Produced by Baba Brinkman
Musical Direction by Simon Kendall at Hammond Ave Studios
Mixed by Tom Caruana at Tea Sea Records
Mastered by Morgan Sizer at Mozu Mastering.

1. Heaven's Gate
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Production and Mix by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall

Further reading:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven's_Gate_(religious_group)

2. Real Recognize Real (feat. Aaron Nazrul)
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana, S. Kendall, A. Ross)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Additional Vocals by Alice Andrews
Guitar by John Ellis
Cuts by Mr. Simmonds

Further reading:
www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_our_consciousness
neurobanter.com/2016/02/04/tracing-the-edges-of-consciousness/
aeon.co/essays/the-hard-problem-of-consciousness-is-a-distraction-from-the-real-one

3. Good Bayesian (feat. MC Lars and Mega Ran)
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana, R. Jarbo, A. Nielsen)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall

Further reading:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_probability
www.edge.org/response-detail/27098
www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqmJhPQYRc8

4. Zombie
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall

Further reading:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie
pp.kpnet.fi/seirioa/cdenn/unzombie.htm

5. Dylan
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Cuts by Mr. Simmonds

Further reading:
www.pnas.org/content/106/Supplement_1/10061.full
www.ted.com/talks/alison_gopnik_what_do_babies_think#t-1089915
www.newscientist.com/article/dn23401-emerging-consciousness-glimpsed-in-babies/

6. Forget Me Not (feat. Aaron Nazrul)
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross, A. Ross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Production and Mix by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Guitar by John Ellis

Further reading:
www.uni-trier.de/fileadmin/fb1/PHI/Hoffmann_-_Dokumente/Dennett_-_Are_we_explaining_consciousness_yet.pdf
www.edge.org/conversation/stanislas_dehaene-signatures-of-consciousness
www.nature.com/news/2005/050620/full/news050620-7.html

7. Mary
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall

Further reading:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_argument
ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/papers/RoboMaryfinal.htm
www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdKEy6vcCMw

8. Cephalophile (feat. Alice Andrews)
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana, A. Andrews)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall

Further reading:
ideas.ted.com/want-to-know-what-aliens-will-be-like-just-look-at-an-octopus/
www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-consciousness-universal/
neurobanter.com/2017/04/19/evidence-for-a-higher-state-of-consciousness-sort-of/

9. Wizard of Odds (feat. Aaron Nazrul)
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana, S. Kindall, A. Ross)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Guitar by John Ellis

Further reading:
www.ted.com/talks/anil_seth_how_your_brain_hallucinates_your_conscious_reality
www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/~karl/Whatever%20next.pdf

10. Room
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall

Further reading:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room
ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/papers/searle.htm

11. Ready for Implants
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross, S. Kendall, A. Ross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Production and Mix by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Additional Vocals by Aaron Nazrul

Further reading:
www.theguardian.com/science/2010/feb/03/vegetative-state-patient-communication
waitbutwhy.com/2017/04/neuralink.html

12. Can't Stop
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Production and Mix by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Guitar by John Ellis
Cuts by Mr. Simmonds

Further reading:
www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-marionettes-lament
soundcloud.com/samharrisorg/free-will-revisited-a-conversation-with-daniel-dennett
www.theguardian.com/science/2013/may/22/daniel-dennett-aristotle-flaming-idiot

13. Memes Up
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Guitar by Tom Caruana and John Ellis

Further reading:
www.susanblackmore.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/JCS03.pdf
ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/dennett/papers/MEMEMYTH.FIN.htm
bigthink.com/videos/daniel-dennett-memes-101

14. Still Here (feat. Tymisha Harris)
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana, T. Harris)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall

Further reading:
www.brainpickings.org/2016/05/31/sean-carroll-the-big-picture/
www.preposterousuniverse.com/poetic-naturalism/

15. N.E.R.D.
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana, S. Kendall, A. Ross)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Additional Vocals by Aaron Nazrul

Further reading:
www.theguardian.com/science/2011/may/15/stephen-hawking-interview-there-is-no-heaven
www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-the-ldquo-you-rdquo-in-an-afterlife-wouldnt-really-be-you/

Keyboards, organ, piano, guitar, and Aaron Nazrul vocals on all songs recorded by Simon Kendall at Hammond Ave Studios.

Album Mastered by Morgan Sizer at Mozu Mastering

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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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