The Rap Guide to Evolution (Original Version)

by Baba Brinkman

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    Supported by the Wellcome Trust and 300 independent crowdfunding backers, this DVD includes ten professional music videos based on Baba's classic Darwin/Rap mash-up.

    The videos can be previewed along with downloadable teaching materials available here: www.rapguidetoevolution.co.uk

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    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Ballad of a Zombie, Data Science, Bright Future, Stay Home, See From Space, The Rap Guide to Consciousness, The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, The Rap Guide to Religion, and 16 more. , and , .

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1.
“Whoever is lead to believe that species are mutable, will do good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction, for only thus can the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed, be removed.” Charles Darwin, Origin of Species So what-ch-you know about Natural Selection? Go ahead And ask a question and see where the answer gets you Try bein’ passive aggressive or try smashin’ heads in And see which tactic brings your plans to fruition And if you have an explanation in mind, then you’re Wastin’ your time, ‘cause the best watchmaker is blind It takes a certain base kind of impatient mind To explain away nature with “intelligent design” But the truth shall set you free From those useless superstitious beliefs In a literal Adam and Eve, and that Edenic myth ‘Cause their family tree is showin’ some genetic drift Take it from this bald-headed non-celibate monk With the lyrical equivalent of an elephant’s trunk It’s time to elevate your mind-state And celebrate your kinship with the primates The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on? We lived in the dark for so long The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on Creationism is dead wrong “The view which most naturalists entertain…namely that each species has been independently created, is erroneous.” Charles Darwin, Origin of Species Okay, it’s time to reveal my identity I’m the manifestation of tens of millions Of centuries of sexual selection, best believe I’m the best of the best of the best of the best Of generations of competitive pressure genetically But don’t get upset, ‘cause we’ve got the same pedigree You and I will find a common ancestor eventually If we rewind geological time regressively And I could say the same for this hibiscus tree And this lizard and this flea and this sesame seed And if you still disbelieve in what your senses perceive Then I could even use this rhyme as a remedy ‘Cause there’s so much variation in the styles in this industry And differential survival when the people listening Decide what they’re into and what really isn’t interesting You could thrive like Timberlake on a Timberland beat Or go extinct like Vanilla Ice and N’Sync It’s survival of the fittest, but fitness is a tricky thing It changes from place to place and from winter to spring But the real question in this social-scientific simile Is heredity, whether we inherit our techniques From our predecessors, or invent them independently But then we’re talkin’ memes and that’s a different thing Richard Dawkins can I get a proper definition please? The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on? We lived in the dark for so long The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on Creationism is dead wrong The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on? Whoever leaves the most spawn The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on Creationism is erroneous I hear some people complain, like “I don’t wanna be an ape! I never came from monkey DNA! I believe God made me in a day – Jesus saves!” Yeah, he’s great, but stop bein’ afraid To use the reason “he” gave you to let science solve Some giant problems and find some final results I think it’s time for y’all to let your minds evolve And listen to a different kind of silent call The kind that comes from pine trees and not Pinesol I’m talkin’ about the mystical vision that Einstein saw Wondering at the infinite depth of divine thought And realizing that scripture can never define God ‘Cause if there is a personal God, then he’s been jerkin’ off So why would he bother designing an albatross Especially when natural selection does such an excellent job Just by balancing benefits and costs? I say banish God into the gaps If he can’t help us understand the simplest facts I want a relaxed God of infinite naps We’ll be all right without him, just give us a chance The weak and the strong, who got it goin’ on We lived in the dark for so long The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on Creationism is dead wrong
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Artificial selection, it starts with a question How did people ever get cows, chickens and pigs And other animals and plants to act so domestic? We took them from the wild and we bred them, brethren Welcome to the Charles Darwin Bicentennial So, why does everybody think this guy is so special? Maybe because a man was born two centuries ago Who, as far as anyone knows, was the first To recognize the underlying pattern behind the pageant Affectionately known as “life on this planet” He was the first to understand it The first to translate his amazement At the wonder of life, into a way to explain it So this is a celebration of Darwin’s greatness In the form of a rap – some would say “a debasement” I would say “be patient”, just think of this as A manifestation of the evolutionary equation A recapitulation of life, a re-enactment So, how do you go from amoebas to rappers? You open The Origin of Species, and you read its chapters The first chapter is about the impact of people’s actions On farm animals, pets, and domestic crops Where did they come from? From original stocks Of wild animals and plants, which were selected and crossed For the best properties, and thus became the effect of their cause But of course, not every selection was conscious Still, even if breeders in ancient Egypt couldn’t see this And had no idea how to rework the features Of a species of sheep or increase the sweetness Of their peaches every season, when they chose to seed it Or to feed it or to breed it or to weed it out and delete it ‘Cause they didn’t see it as needed, whether the preferences in question Were for bigger chicken breasts or whippets with a thinner mid-section Or if it was just an inner predilection to pick the best in Any mixed collection, that’s artificial selection Artificial selection, it starts with a question How did people ever get cows, chickens and pigs And other animals and plants to act so domestic? We took them from the wild and we bred them, brethren But there’s nothing artificial about domestication Ant colonies keep domestic aphids It’s just an arrangement where one hand washes the other We protect the cow, and the cow offers the udder And even if there’s never a conscious discussion If our little selections and little preferences Can change and enhance the critical differences Between wild and domestic breeds over the centuries Then maybe that can explain… everything In nature it isn’t us that makes the selections It’s just survival and reproduction in the midst of competition Where slight differences that arise randomly Get selected by the pressures applied environmentally And eventually species divide like a family tree Into everything alive, from a fly to a manatee So how does this apply to the craft of the MC? Well, variation can be found in the styles on display Rappers all have different techniques when they’re on stage And the results can be seen in the audience’s face Like, for instance, at this moment, you all look amazed Like guppies removed abruptly from their aquatic space Your minds are probably racing over questions of style and race And genre and time and place, and some of your eyes are glazed Like “For God’s sake, how long will this take?!?” But if you all feel that way, then soon I’ll be replaced By someone more entertaining, like maybe Lil Wayne This is the rap version of the doctrine of Malthus It’s the proportion of hungry mouths To food resources in the form of captive audiences Where crowds of two or more will always Be at least half as common as performers Can you see the mathematical problem? But survival on stage is a non-random process ‘Cause those who get massive responses tend to influence Those who aspire to get massive responses So if you say I sound like, for instance, Eminem, then I’ll say “That’s preposterous!” But if you catch me grabbing my crotch And acting obnoxious, then I might have to acknowledge That this is a form of imitation modified by experience Which is similar to the genetic basis of inheritance Except it’s part Darwinism and part Lamarkism With genes and culture co-evolving as we rock to the rhythm But whether you think cultures really evolve Or if it’s just a silly metaphor that’s pretty but false Or whether you’ve never even thought about that I still think Darwin can teach us a lot about rap And vice verse; ‘cause it’s all about that Competition for status with intricate language Delivered in battles, and it’s all about getting that Fitness advantage and the different adaptive behaviour patterns That have us acting crazier than capercaillie mating dances But hey, that’s natural selection; so just sit back and listen And witness the evolution of the rap profession Artificial selection, it starts with a question How did people ever get cows, chickens and pigs And other animals and plants to act so domestic? We took them from the wild and we bred them, brethren Scratch: “Too many MCs, not enough Mics” (Pras from the Fugees)
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I’m a African, I’m a African And I know what’s happenin’ I’m a African, I’m a African Archaeologists know what’s happenin’ You a African? You a African? Do you know what’s happenin’? I’m a African, I’m a African Geneticists know what’s happenin’ No I wasn’t born in Ghana but Africa is my mama ‘Cause that’s where my mama got her mitochondria You can try to fight if you wanna, but it’s not gonna change me ‘Cause it’s plain to see, Africans are my people And if it’s not plain to see then your eyes deceive you I’m talkin’ primeval; the DNA in my veins Tells a story that reasonable people find believable But it might even blow your transistors; Africa is the home of our most recent common ancestors Which means human beings are all brothers and sisters So check the massive evidence of Homo erectus And Australopithecus afarensis in the fossil record And then try to tell me that we’re not all connected The fossil record has gaps but no contradictions And it complements the evidence in your chromosomes So I came to let you know about your ancestral home I’m a African, I’m a African And I know what’s happenin’ I’m a African, I’m a African Archaeologists know what’s happenin’ You a African? You a African? Do you know what’s happenin’? I’m a African, I’m a African Geneticists know what’s happenin’ Yeah, it’s plain to see, you can’t change me ‘Cause I’ma be a Homo sapien for life Yeah, it’s plain to see, you can’t change me ‘Cause I’ma be a Homo sapien for life Yeah, the red is for the blood in my arm – it runs in the veins Of all my cousins from the same African mom And the black is for the melanin, which I guess I lost A mutation with benefits that offset the costs At least in the North, after massive glaciation My family passed through some adaptive radiations We started as Africans, and then became Eurasians And then one final migration made us Canadians But it’s back to my origin, ‘cause I understand For every colour of man, Africa is the motherland So I’m comin’ back, that’s my right of return I’m only speakin’ the facts, which I invite you to learn We came from Africa first; Charles Darwin predicted it ‘Cause that’s where modern chimps and gorillas live So the green is for the envy in the eyes of intelligent design Advocates and scientific illiterates I’m a African, I’m a African And I know what’s happenin’ I’m a African, I’m a African Archaeologists know what’s happenin’ You a African? You a African? Do you know what’s happenin’? I’m a African, I’m a African Geneticists know what’s happenin’ Yeah, C-A-N-A-D-A Asia, U-K, U-S-A R-U-S-S-I-A No, it ain’t ‘bout where you stay It’s ‘bout the motherland C-H-I-N-A A-U-S-T-R-I-A Oz, Tazmania, and Ukraine No, it ain’t ‘bout where you stay It’s ‘bout the motherland M-O-N-G-O-L-I-A Saudi Arabia and Kuwait Sweden, Denmark, and Norway No, it ain’t ‘bout where you stay It’s ‘bout the motherland C-O-L-O-M-B-I-A Costa Rica, I-N-D-I-A First nations in A-L-A-S-K-A No, it ain’t ‘bout where you stay It’s ‘bout the motherland
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Creationist cousins, they’re my relations, I love ‘em But when they talk about Jesus and Revelations and Judges I’ve gotta take it up with them ‘Cause there’s a better explanation for the place that we come from, okay? Creationist cousins, they’re my relations, I love ‘em But at the dinner table we get on some crazy discussions I’m always questioning their basic assumptions And saying, “yes I believe we came from monkeys, okay?” That’s the idea that most enrages Darwin’s detractors The idea that we came from ape-like ancestors Some people still question this, and say: “If we came from Monkeys, then how come there’s monkeys still in existence?” Allow me to illustrate a similar instance I’m descended from Dutch Calvinist immigrants Who came to Canada in the 1950s And I still have second cousins who live in the Netherlands But they’re not my ancestors; they’re my relatives Since we have common genetic elements Inherited from our great grandparents That’s just three generations back, but here’s the relevance Three thousand generations back, human beings all have Common ancestors, so really we’re all relatives Which also means all relationships are relatively incestuous Further back we have common ancestors with chimps And gorillas and elephants and plants, and billions Of years back our ancestors are all single-cellular But what I find incredible isn’t this principle Of “unity of common descent”, that’s just elegant What’s incredible to me is that some of my living relatives Still believe the earth was created about seventy-odd Centuries ago – around the time of the Egyptians By a benevolent God and that this same God Is currently manipulating the elements And that evolutionism is devilish Did I mention that I was descended from Calvinist fundamentalists? Well, I still have cousins as dedicated representatives Approximately twenty percent of them And at the dinner table we debate statistics And those debates get kind of interesting They go like this... Creationist cousins, they’re my relations, I love ‘em But when they talk about Jesus and Revelations and Judges I’ve gotta take it up with them ‘Cause there’s a better explanation for the place that we come from, okay? Creationist cousins, they’re my relations, I love ‘em But at the dinner table we get on some crazy discussions I’m always questioning their basic assumptions And saying, “yes I believe we came from monkeys, okay?” I say, “Creationism is unscientific Ninety-nine percent of practicing scientists accept evolution As the best explanation we have for living systems Why? Because there’s overwhelming empirical evidence!” And they say, “Baba, science isn’t run by consensus That one percent is quite significant Those are the creationist scientists who have found signs Of intelligent design, but whenever they try and Publish it in the mainstream literature, they get black-listed Besides, your presuppositions are materialistic Maybe all that evidence scientists say they’ve collected Just empirically proves that God wants our faith to be tested!” So then I say, “But that means your benevolent God Is perpetrating a massive intellectual fraud! So either evolution is the victim of a frame job Which explains all of its predictive successes Or we have to separate God from the scientific method” And that’s when my sister steps in To defend a different kind of creationism – Cultural creationism, Also known as “social constructivism” or “post-modernism” She says: “Baba, the Western scientific method Is just as subjective as every other cultural tradition Except it’s just better at pretending to be objective Because, like, all behaviour is socially constructed And mostly, it just promotes injustice And, like, gender roles have nothing to do with genitals They’re just a way for men to control women’s goals And try to turn us all into Playboy centerfolds Haven’t you heard about that tribe in the Amazon Where the woman does the man’s jobs and hunts and plants the crops And brings home the food for the man to wash? Um, I can’t remember exactly what that clan is called But I know it’s a published fact Because I read about it in my Women’s Studies class And it proves that gender is a socially constructed act So how does sociobiology explain that?” And all I can do is come back with more statistics About the high percentage of indigenous Societies where polygamy is prolific And about human sexual dimorphism And the different reproductive investments between men and women Which of course then gets my religious cousins offended Because it doesn’t credit Genesis with our humble beginnings And, let’s just say, the discussions are endless But it isn’t about who is impartial; no one’s impartial It’s about how much evidence you can marshal And how you deliver the parcel And when my relatives argue, I have to have faith That we can reach the genuine article in a rational way That’s a different kind of faith than my cousins have In divine creation, but hey, to all of my relatives And fellow primates, I say If it makes you feel better, go head and pray In fact, here’s how I pray in a secular way I say, “I have creationist relatives and relative apes And I wish them all happiness, whatever their faith And I wish myself patience, since I relish debates Let us all be respectful and still tell it straight” Creationist cousins, they’re my relations, I love ‘em But when they talk about Jesus and Revelations and Judges I’ve gotta take it up with them ‘Cause there’s a better explanation for the place that we come from, okay? Creationist cousins, they’re my relations, I love ‘em But at the dinner table we get on some crazy discussions I’m always questioning their basic assumptions And saying, “yes I believe we came from monkeys, okay?”
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We livin’ this ‘til the day that we die Survival of the fit, only the strong survive There’s a war goin’ on outside no man is safe from You can run but you can’t hide forever If you come to my block, you’ll see some territoriality A place where kill or be killed is the mentality But get it straight, it’s just a necessary strategy You gotta play the hand you’re dealt; you can’t magically Escape from the habitat that you was born in Three homicides in my neighbourhood this mornin’ Cops came and kicked the crooked door in, with no warnin’ And started roughin’ up my young cousin She’s only seventeen and got a bun in the oven Plus a concussion, but she ain’t done nothin’ So keep your mouth shut and don’t jump to judgment On the lives we’re livin’ – just close your eyes and listen While I break down some homicide statistics If you’re thinkin’ the criminal mind is just vacant You’re mistaken, this is calculated risk takin’ We’re livin’ in a situation with a low Life-expectancy, and a major discrepancy Between the haves and have-nots, and you wonder Why the padlock on every cash box is smashed off C’mon, you can’t call it “pathological” Naw, that’s illogical; you can try to understand it But you can’t stop it though, not unless you address The root causes, the conscious and unconscious Decisions to discount future prospects C’mon, it’s obvious – the beat keeps bouncing The homicide rate keeps mounting, which leads To steep discounting, and a lot of violence But it’s not a virus; it’s a rational response To high risk environments and short time horizons With high stakes and highly visible prizes And you wonder why we’re criminal-minded Hey, you can’t say we’ll get satisfaction if we’re patient With self-control and delayed gratification When the only job that pays is casket-makin’ And death is the ultimate plan cancellation So check the facts and recent data releasin’ You’ll see a pattern of increasin’ competition A bunch of young guys all stugglin’ and status seekin’ And causin’ the crimes that make the social fabric weaken And life expectancy also predicts teen pregnancy The need to leave a legacy genetically Will never be completely controlled contraceptively Yeah, that’s transparent – imagine if your kids Would never meet their grandparents, unless you followed The Bristol Palen plan for parenthood And then they say, “Ooh, these young girls are so damn careless Getting’ pregnant before marriage; it’s such a tragedy” Apparently it’s also a reproductive strategy, Especially when you can see them adjusting actively When their circumstances change; in both the cases Of the young ladies with babies and the male risk-takers You see people adapting to their situations And it’s the same in different places and with different races This is not about ethical justifications It’s evolutionary psych, and it’s just the basics And still people call this behaviour “maladaptive” Because of our reaction when violence happens But if we really want to change the outcome Then maybe we should just start questioning how it’s adaptive And the bottom line is that inequity and life Expectancy are the ultimate causes of crime And the results of crime; to me that’s true The two combine together in a feedback loop But I got some moves to make, so I’ll be back soon Just don’t ask me what I’m about to do ‘Cause I can’t say, so it’s left to untold fact Until my death, my ghost will stay alive Survival of the fit, only the strong survive We livin’ this ‘til the day that we die Survival of the fit, only the strong survive
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“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.” Charles Darwin, Descent of Man Worst comes to worst, my people come first But my tribe lives on every country on earth I’ll do anything to protect them from hurt The human race is what I serve Some people got good friend; I’ve got disparate friends They live on different ends of earth, but just pretend We actually get to the end of the time of tribalism Like Obama said, and dissolve the lines of difference As man advances in civilization And small tribes expand into larger bases And communities, the truest reason tells each individual That’s it’s not that difficult to extend our instinctual Sympathies to all members of one nation Like, for instance, notice how everybody loves Canadians Overseas, even if they’re personally unknown Well so do I! But not so much when I come home But I know there’s nothing to stop me extending this basic Sympathy to the people of all nations and all races By the way, those are Charles Darwin’s statements Paraphrased, a man ahead of his time Extending his imagination and formidable mind Into a future where all human sympathies combine Worst comes to worst, my peoples comes first But my tribe lives on every country on earth I’ll do anything to protect them from hurt The human race is what I serve In the South Pacific Islands, there’s certain animals that don’t Experience fear, like Galapagos iguanas They never had predators, so their adaptive responses Evolved to be as calm as a pack of Dalai Llamas So then, why do we have to live with violence When this whole planet could be like a pacifistic island? Do we need fear to escape invading aliens? The only predators here are called Homo sapiens And yeah, we can be dangerous, but we can also be Motivated by affection and reciprocity Or by that Old Testament animosity: an eye for an eye But that philosophy’s got the whole world blind Let’s not pretend it’s gonna be a cake-walk to end it If violence is an instinct it’s not entirely senseless But the logic of human destiny is reciprocal altruism Yes we can change our perspectives And as soon as this is widely comprehended Then I predict we’ll be as calm as Galapagos finches Worst comes to worst, my peoples comes first But my tribe lives on every country on earth I’ll do anything to protect them from hurt The human race is what I serve
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“Sure, I could get up at dawn, go to a job I hate that does not inspire me creatively whatsoever, or I could get up at noon and learn how to play the sitar” Bill Hicks Survival of the fittest is such a bleak vision Are we really just a freakish collision of selfish genes Selfishly promoting their own individual interests? Well, maybe, but sometimes those interests are collective Still, “survival of the fittest” is a phrase easily twisted By anybody out to justify the meager existence That some people live with; it’s a phrase often enlisted By parasites eager to benefit from these differences In the nineteenth century it was aristocratic eugenicists In the twentieth century, genocidal menaces Used “survival of the fittest” to justify their death sentences And gangsters still use it today to degrade their victims Not to mention the purveyors of disaster capitalism These are all examples of “Social Darwinism” But none of this is based on scientific evidence Merely showing that something exists in a state of nature Doesn’t give it a moral basis; that’s a false correlation Competition can sometimes increase motivation But evolution is also driven by cooperation Just ask the dictyostelium nation Bacteria combined into eukaryotic cells And became the organelles within their symbiotic shells And we have fifty trillion of those in our individual selves So we’re like physical spaces where creative collectives dwell And this applies to the societies we erect as well ‘Cause survival of the fittest also applies to groups And the fittest group makes the best combined moves So, can’t we all just get along, whatever we try and do? Where’s the altruism? Where’s the love? Where’s the altruism? All these vultures talkin’ ‘bout survival of the fittest But the atruism y’all, come on, where’s the altruism? We need to get together on a common vision! Group selection just puts me in an altruistic mood Like: Yeah, love thy neighbour! What’s that? You need some sugar? Okay, come by later! Of course I’ll do you favour; why’s that? ‘Cause I’ve got the compassion of a vampire bat If you need some food, I’ll do what I can So what if we’re not related; you’re still my man You’re still my sister; I feel high, man! This universal love is good stuff, god damn! And you don’t have to reciprocate either Because karma is a sophisticated teacher Karma isn’t just energy waves in the ether! No, karma’s in the way everyone hates a cheater Cheater detection will keep you in check when You jump cues and refuse to treat people respectfully So go ahead, take what you want, run me down ‘Cause I believe what goes around comes around Liars and thieves and those who try to deceive Get dealt with by the immune systems of society And survival of the fittest? Don’t let it baffle you Because fitness isn’t “fitness”, no, it’s aptitude Between the environment and whatever’s adapted to it And in social animals like humans, aptitude is attitude And my attitude is there’s nothing we can’t do As a human family group, as long as we have rules To keep the cheaters in check; I figure we can’t lose We can go to the moon and back this afternoon As long as what’s bad for me is also bad for you So let’s just all get together and have some food And put an end to this endless feud – is that cool? Where’s the altruism? Where’s the love? Where’s the altruism? All these vultures talkin’ ‘bout survival of the fittest But the atruism y’all, come on, where’s the altruism? We need to get together on a common vision! “And if we evolve the idea, you see, the planet might be more compassionate, and something like heaven might dawn” Bill Hicks
11.
Hypnotize 02:14
Sicker than your average; picture Any artistic practice, with musicians or actors Or visual craftsman; just pick an example And imagine the competitive advantages That would come with recognition if you have the gift Now picture the artist with unlimited cash, and with Picturesque women always givin’ him glances Or, if you’re picturing a woman, then picture the advances Of the handsome prince whose attention she catches Now, picture them livin’ happily ever after And havin’ kids faster than Angie and Brad Pitt All because they have this gift with craftsmanship Now take it from the master of the adjectives I think it’s adaptive; it has to be instinct In synch with the rhythm, just listen and sink Deep into the subconscious of the obnoxious Sexual selection, I’m just tickin’ the boxes And if you’re feelin’ it then mission accomplished Baba, Baba, Baba, can’t you see Sometimes your words just hypnotize me And I just love your turns of phrase So even though you’re still broke I love you anyway Yeah, I could fill you with real scientific Lyrics, but I confess that my mind is twisted ‘Cause I’ve been listenin’ to Kanye, Nas and Jay While reading Richard Dawkins on the opposite page So now this whole rap thing seems awfully strange Talkin’ ‘bout, “He got game, and he’s not real And he’s got chains” but wait, that’s a peacock’s tail! ‘Cause you never hear them say they got it cheap on sale Which means that bling is meant to represent How much they really spent, and at the end of the day That’s the definition of a “fitness display” Like a bowerbird’s nest, which takes hours of work And makes the females catch a powerful urge Just like a style of verse or an amazing flow But it takes dedication and it takes a toll ‘Cause the best displays are unfakeable Baba, Baba, Baba, can’t you see Sometimes your words just hypnotize me And I just love your turns of phrase So even though you’re still broke I love you anyway
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I’m cocky and single and I got your genes tingling Girl, with my costly signaling Rockin’ the rhythm and all you keep thinkin’ about Is the offspring we’ll bring into the world And you’re awfully tempting, so you got my genes tingling Too, with your costly signaling You’re cute, but you gotta be considerate And have a sense of humour, or you will not be interesting Charles Darwin saw natural selection as the most serious cause Of evolution, but what was going on with bird songs And peacocks? They follow mysterious laws And then Darwin had a curious thought It probably occurred to him while explaining his theory To a young Victorian blond, whose face displayed A mixture of desire and feverish awe The immediate cause of which Darwin clearly saw So he said: “My dear, descent with modification comes from The struggle for survival and reproduction Hence, the reason for some structures must be seduction” In fact, Darwin’s brain was probably one such structure Just as peacocks’ tails show off the genes of the top males And likewise the songs of nightingales, the fighting skills Of elephant seals, and minnows with colourful scales These are all traits that sexual selection has shaped Through the female preference to get with the fittest mates But in human beings that selection goes both ways Pretty much anything that’s just for display And isn’t meant dissuade or chase predators away Was probably selected for in a sexual way… But wait, isn’t this just such a display? I mean, I really thought I had something to say But, is it just a demonstration of my DNA? And, so what if it is? Great, what’s to explain? Okay, maybe a couple of things First, to say that something ornate Like complex language, first evolved as a seductive display Doesn’t mean that people only use it just to get laid Darwin leaves Freud in the dustbin, okay? For instance, I could use a urine stream to put out a fire But that doesn’t mean the penis evolved as bush fire fighter This is a theory of language function A theory of where it comes from; what it’s used for now Is a separate discussion; so which was it? Was language originally a mechanism for survival or reproduction? Can you talk a predator out of attacking? Can you talk a parasite out of infecting? Can you talk a potential mate in to consenting? Potentially, right? Hence, presenting The grand unified theory of rhyme The mating mind uses lyrical signs, combined with wit And wordplay, conversation, humour and different narrative styles To appraise the fitness of mates, both for the purpose of marriage ties And for mates of the more temporary kind These are the humble roots of the literary sublime We’re all just Shakespearean primates verbalizing our cherry behinds But how could we test this theory of mine? Ideally, we could use experimental holding zoos Filled with human subjects, and with an overhead view We could observe which breeding pairs reproduce And how often they use their verbal ornaments to seduce We could even separate them into control groups To see whether male or female vocals Are more prone to be used to stimulate hormones Although, it’s true that this sort of method isn’t normally approved If only there existed in a state of nature Some cultural group preoccupied with makin’ paper And parading naked women shakin’ their money makers In front of competitive males displaying mating behaviour While trading their creativity for sexual favours If such a group existed, I predict it would be a major Player in the entertainment industry, and would be in major Danger of being overwhelmed by angry player haters But I may have to save some of my research for later And how do I answer the charge that I’m participating In this mating dance myself with these dazzling bars? That isn’t hard – I plead guilty I worked hard to achieve this ability And if it also gives my genes visibility then so be it But, I confess, it also reveals my unique disability See, my tendency to tell these monkey fables And funny medieval tales, generally fails To attract any nubile young females It does attract women a lot though All highly-educated and post-menopausal! I know, isn’t it awful? I get mobbed after my Chaucer shows By grandmas thanking me for making it possible For them to appreciate a hip-hop flow And, you might ask, where are their granddaughters? My guess is, they’re at gangster rap concerts But that’s how sexual selection works Any mutation gets tested first And if it doesn’t get spread, then it gets purged So this experimental hip-hop mix Where it gets crossed with literature and lectures Will probably get the burial that it deserves That is, unless you spread it like whispers I’m cocky and single and I got your genes tingling Girl, with my costly signaling Rockin’ the rhythm and all you keep thinkin’ about Is the offspring we’ll bring into the world And you’re awfully tempting, so you got my genes tingling Too, with your costly signaling You’re cute, but you gotta be considerate And have a sense of humour, or you will not be interesting
14.
DNA 03:11
We are made of DNA We are made of DNA Deoxyribonucleic Acid is what we are made of We are made of DNA We are made of DNA Strands of double helix Are where all these bodies came from In the story of life on this crazy planet The protagonist isn’t man, no It’s a microscopic information package Called deoxyribonucleic acid The DNA strand has the same basic plan In every living thing, every plant Every animal, every little flea Has the same proteins with a certain percentage Of the same genes arranged identically It’s no coincidence; it means every living thing Has a shared ancestor with every living thing This is true for Jews and Christians and Sufi mystics And Buddhists and every religion and superstition If you can listen to this it means you’re passing through This existence on a wave of DNA And you’re just one of its newest inventions We are made of DNA We are made of DNA Deoxyribonucleic Acid is what we are made of We are made of DNA We are made of DNA Strands of double helix Are where all these bodies came from Now if you want me to tell you how a simple molecule Could build bodies so well with such an obvious wealth Of variation and adaptation, well In DNA’s case it’s ‘cause it copies itself And makes little mistakes, which would not really help Except that one in every million is a slight improvement And leaves more copies, whether mice or humans And that’s what keeps this whole life thing movin’ Changing and growing and competing for mates ‘Cause that’s the only way to keep your DNA Up in the race, which explains a lot Like how animals and plants all behave in the wild So next time you shake hands or break dance Or make plans, don’t forget the straight facts The information that makes your brains and hands Comes from one place: DNA strands We are made of DNA We are made of DNA Deoxyribonucleic Acid is what we are made of We are made of DNA We are made of DNA Strands of double helix Are where all these bodies came from Yeah, this goes out to Watson and Crick Who discovered the twist And to the Human Genome Project And to those who speed up the process I mean like digital PCR Record a gene faster than a VCR This is the future so you better get used to it This is what we are
15.
Performance, Feedback, Revision The first version of this rap was pretty primitive It was like, “Yo, yo, the origin of species Ain’t no feces, dawg, believe me…” And that’s all I could think of So then I thought, this needs to be re-written And sometimes people ask: “How does your show get written?” Like this: performance, feedback, revision And how do I generally develop my lyricism? Like this: performance, feedback, revision And how do human beings ever learn to do anything? Like this: performance, feedback, revision And evolution is really an algorithm that goes Like this: performance, feedback, revision So the genetic code of every living creature was written Like this: performance, feedback, revision See, the genes are like a text with a thousand pages And revision occurs in the random changes That come from mutations, and when they see the light That’s the performance, that’s the phenotype And natural selection is the feedback side That’s about who survives and whose genes catch rides In the next generation, yes, what I’m saying Is that a rap performance like this is the best illustration Of the way descent with modification works ‘Cause the performance is necessary to change the words To decide which have an impact and which to send back To the drawing board, in fact I just did that When you failed to react, ‘cause any line can change And mutations occur when I improvise on stage ‘Cause up until this moment, everything I said was off the page But… (Freestyle improvised rhyme) And that’s how my show gets written and re-written Like this: performance, feedback, revision And anyone can use this algorithm to learn anything Like this: performance, feedback, revision But remember, you get the feedback, and you make the decision Like this: performance, feedback, revision You wanna know about evolution? This is the definition Like this: performance, feedback, revision
16.
In 1859 Darwin spilled the first splashes Of his universal acid, and the effects were like magic Burning human arrogance into ashes In exactly the same way that Copernican math did No, the stars don’t shine just to improve the view from earth No, we’re not the centre of the universe No, we weren’t created in the image of Jupiter No, we’re not so special, and yes, the truth hurts But that’s how evolution works – once it’s been applied The acid burns into the superstitious side Of the human mind, and fills it with light It even dissolves the original sin of pride The pride that says: “I’m a special creation And my creator has given me dominion over nature And he has the power to replenish his creatures So if species go extinct, he can recreate them later And if he doesn’t, well that’s just part of his plan” Ah, but Darwin’s acid is hard to withstand It plucks the arrogance deep from within the hearts of man And teaches us never to build our houses on sand But instead to try to understand why we’re here One species among millions in this biosphere Each with millions of ancestors, whose fighting spirits Combined to give us this great survival gear These minds, these limbs, these incredible tools Perfected by millennia of competitive use And yes, these attention-seeking genitals too Without them, these living forms could never improve It’s such an elegant view, full of breadth and grandeur And yet, some people react with depression and anger Like: “It’s so unsympathetic, so viciously random! What’s the point of compassion, or ethical standards? If this is just a game that organisms are trapped in Genetically adapting to environmental factors Then there’s no responsibility for individual actions! Where’s the governing dynamic?!?” Well, once again Darwin gives us some answers He says yes, everything from violence to violets to viruses Consists of organisms adapting to environments If you’re alive, it’s because your ancestors were the best survivalists They were the finalists in the genetic Olympic Games Every one of your ancestors lived to reproductive age And they were all better than their competitors at getting laid Otherwise, you wouldn’t be sitting here today There’s something inspirational in this vision of Darwin’s And it goes like this: organisms – like us – are not isolated Organisms are part of an environmental mix So your decisions affect evolution – it isn’t directionless Now, before you dismiss me as a mad environmentalist Just try to imagine how natural selection applies To countries that have industrialized Companies live and companies die And when customers buy based on a company’s green plan That affects the economy, just ask Alan Greenspan Cultural evolution is ours to reinvent Wait, can we affect current events? Yes We Can And when we choose who to sleep with and reproduce Our sexual choices affect the gene pool So it’s simple, all we need to do is refuse To sleep with mean people, and things will improve Especially women – on you the pressure is greater ‘Cause men will always do what it takes to get into your favour That’s just in our nature, so if selfish behaviour Was a sexual graveyard, the effects would be major! In each of these cases, our intentional efforts Can play the part of environmental pressures I can say: “This is a space where a peaceful existence Will never be threatened by needless aggression” I can say: “This is an ecosystem where people listen Where justice increases over egotism This is a space where religions achieve co-existence And racism decreases with each coalition” This is my vision of Darwinism, and how we all factor in Each of us is a part of the environment; we pass through it And change it, and affect the way that others adapt to it And after we get to look back and see how we impacted it And maybe have a laugh if our sense of humour is still alive And what did Charles Darwin do? Darwin threw some light On the origin of mankind, and he left us with skewered pride But he taught us that, yes, there’s grandeur in this view of life “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one, and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful, and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” Charles Darwin, Origin of Species

about

A hip-hop exploration of modern biology. This is the original version of the album, recorded in 2009 and is the soundtrack for the Wellcome Trust Music Video Project, available online here:
www.rapguidetoevolution.co.uk

For the revised, updated album produced by Mr. Simmonds, click here:
bababrinkman.bandcamp.com/album/the-rap-guide-to-evolution-revised

credits

released August 1, 2009

Produced by Soulful Spider, Tom Caruana & Nokz
Engineered and mixed by Soulful Spider
Mastered by Mr. Simmonds
Executive Produced and written by Baba Brinkman

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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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