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from Rapsode by Baba Brinkman



A manifesto for the less-than-notorious middle majority in the rap music industry to seize their moment and pivot to a different economic model and approach to making money from music.

Are topic-based commissions the next evolution of hip-hop?

Maybe not, but then again stranger things have happened.


This is Baba Brinkman
Recording live from Long Island, New York
And this record is called "Rapsode"

Want you to check the method people
Of what you think you want be
Oh oh oh oh

A rapsode is like a lyrical technician

We share a common sight and seashore
There's no reason to drown for keeps
Alone oh oh oh

But not a superstar, you know
It's like a service job

Nobody paid me to write this
Only track on the record that wasn’t a paid assignment
And that makes me delighted, major alignment
I say what I like, but the topic, I let the patron decide it

Only proper, when they spent the paper to hype it
Like a private investigator, you can pay me to dive in
But never dictate what I’m writin’, I can claim it as mine then
Rapsode, with the vocational rhymin’

Occasional versification, that’s my livin’
I can’t work a 9-to-5, I’m purpose-driven
Skills never rusty, college credits dusty
But the reach of the music is down to the algorithm

Shout out to the slept-on rappers blazin’ verses
Major wordsmiths workin’ bars and table service
Flow so crazy but never get paid for verses
A vast, unappreciated labor surplus

And yeah they can hustle, embrace that struggle
The pipeline is leaky but they see Drake and covet
21 Savage and Travis Scott make them hungry
Crabs in a bottomless bucket facing upwards

Facin’ math lottery-level-bad, but it’s all for the art
Walk-ons and extras, we all play a part
Workin’ actors hit auditions, it’s tough to get started
But workin’ rappers don’t exist in this market

Just artists decades into the skill-build
Who find the grind still doesn’t pay real bills
Knowin’ the road is rocky and steep uphill
Doesn’t make that feel like less of a raw deal

I can relate, ‘cause I’m another one and the same
Always figured one day I’d Roc-A-Fella my name
But I never been the type to get jealous of fame
Instead I figured a pivot and reinvented the game

And became a Rapsode, embraced the public service
Scientifically informative when I’m bustin’ verses
Something of a rapper and something of a journalist
A cross between Biggie Smalls and Copernicus

Mappin’ a clear path out of a lyrical trap
Rational actor, check the rearview and adapt
Causin’ a misconception near you to collapse
Scientific collabs on peer-reviewed raps

A useful application of a rapper’s abilities
Abilities accumulated by practicing diligently
In the pursuit of celebrity, frustrated eventually
And then applied flexibly to a different niche

Not the niche of the typical music industry
Sex symbols and singles and status signaling
Jingles and jiggling, appetite tickling
In the pursuit of followers and profitability

A lot of songs really speak on the same topics
But I’m not gonna judge, ‘cause yup, the motive is profit
And rappers are good at giving the fans what they wanted
The lowest common denominator path to the top

To get them to stream it and cop it, that aspirational
Motivational music to climb a ladder and chase a goal
Olympic podium music about takin’ gold
And makin’ the competition pay respect to the throne

And that’s dope, but limiting, returns are diminishing
Rapsode life, where status isn’t everything
This art form is capable of encompassing anything
If incentives are disconnected from mass-distributing

So change the incentives, embrace reinvention
Fossil fuel is just one way of crankin’ engines
Imagine a rap game where the rappers make sense of
A thousand diverse topics, and get paid for their efforts

Under the renaissance patronage system, it seems backwards
But it takes a Medici to make a Sistine Chapel
Commission a Michelangelo, pick an issue to tackle
Suggest the back-up sources and leave the rest to the rapper

And watch as the ceiling is painted, that feeling’s amazing
The scene may not go on to become exceedingly famous
But you can always be part of the means of its making
And stories today are better than biblical scenes of creation

I’m talkin’ scientific discoveries that are changing
The way we perceive creatures in nature
Energy generation, DNA, technology and it’s major
And people hang in the balance of each innovation

It needs interpretation, a storytelling medium
Beats, rhymes, and life science to break the tedium
A distribution platform on digital media
And a trained labor force, if we can give the means to them

Three consecutive records of custom raps
Original tracks I got the privilege to craft
Why? ‘Cause I liked the topic, and someone asked
And rap is a business, they budgeted for the task

How fun is that? In the midst of a major disturbance
The pandemic had me in a cage never workin’
At the peak of a labor surplus I made that swerve and
Transformed the rap game into a service

A useful service in which rap pays
A middle class wage, let’s erect that stage
Quit the day jobs, and spit mad flames
And drop whole records that Event Rap made

That’s the album intro, the passion and vision
That’s the manifesto, now it has to deliver
For the Rapsodes, makin’ the raps on commission
So check the method, just play this album and listen

Listen to thirtreen original tracks
All paid commissions
Made on assignment

Want you to check the method people
Of what you think you want be
Oh oh oh oh

Now I get it
If you're Drake, that is not cool

We share a common sight and seashore
There's no reason to drown for keeps

But then again, if you get paid to do what you love
There's gotta be intermediate definitions of cool


from Rapsode, released May 15, 2023
Lyrics by Baba Brinkman
Chorus vocals by Isaiah Dunkley
Music by Mr. Simmonds


all rights reserved



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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