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The “knowledge argument” is a philosophical thought experiment in which a colour scientist, Mary, learns every conceivable detail about colour vision and the brain basis of colour experience while being raised from birth in a black and white room without the ability to see colour herself. When she sees colour for the first time, is she surprised? Or did she know enough to “see it coming”? In this version, Baba re-imagines Mary as a deaf acoustic scientist who studies rap music without hearing it firsthand. And then when she listens to a rap song for the first time, does she learn anything new? Or does her vastly enhanced imagination mean she knows in advance what it will feel like?



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


from The Rap Guide to Consciousness, released April 20, 2018
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall

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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Science rapper and inventor of several novel hip-hop variants. Canadian transplant to New York. Pathological optimist.

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