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Sexual Selection 2​.​0

from The Rap Guide to Evolution Revised by Baba Brinkman




Charles Darwin saw natural selection, not sexual selection
But natural selection as the most serious cause of evolution
But what was going on with bird songs and peacocks?
They follow mysterious laws – but then Darwin had a curious thought

It probably occurred to him while he was trying to explain 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… yee-ah

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… wassup!
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, see these are all traits that sexual selection
Has shaped through the female preference to get with the fittest mates

But in the case of human brains that selective pressure goes both ways
Male to female and female to male
Pretty much anything in nature that’s just for display, just for showing off
And isn’t meant dissuade or chase predators away, like camoflauge

Must have been selected for in a sexual way, anything in nature
That’s just for display and has no survival value… but wait
Doesn’t that mean this is just such a display?
Right now, at this very moment… no way, it’s a mistake

I swear, I really did come here with something to say
But, they’re telling me it’s just a demonstration of my DNA?
And so what if it is? That’s great, what’s to explain?
Okay, maybe a couple of things. First, when I say that something ornate

Like language, originally evolved as a seductive display
I am not arguing that people only use it just to get laid
Darwin leaves Freud in the dustbin, okay?
Something that evolved for one purpose can be used for a different purpose today

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, well that is a separate discussion;

So which was it? Was complex language originally a mechanism
For survival or reproduction? It must have been one of them
I’m talking about complex language now, not simple language
Like “Ooh look, snake, don’t step!” Think about it

How would complex language possible help you survive in the stone age?
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? Not necessarily, but potentially
Hence, presenting the grand unified theory of rhyme
Where does rhyme come from? I’m talkin’ about Homer, Beowulf
Chaucer, Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, Eminem, and Jay-Z, it’s all the same

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 are all Shakespearean primates verbalizing our cherry behinds
But how could we possibly test this bizarre theory of mine?
Not just mine, also Geoffrey Miller’s

Ideally, we could use experimental holding zoos
Filled with human subjects, we could feed them some booze
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 in the stimulation of hormones
Although, it’s true that this sort of experiment, on humans
Isn’t normally approved – outside of nightclubs

If only there existed in a state of nature some cultural group we could study
That was preoccupied with makin’ paper, and parading
Half-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 for females

Then I say “so be it” – But, I confess, if you look close
It also reveals my unique disability
See, my tendency to tell these monkey fables and funny medieval tales,
It 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 shows
By hoards of groupie grandmas who thank 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 all at gangster rap concerts
But hey, that’s how sexual selection works
Any mutation, such as myself, gets tested first

And if it doesn’t get spread, well, then it gets purged
So this experimental hip-hop mix where it gets crossed
With classic scientific works and literature and lectures
Will probably get the burial that it deserves

That is, unless you spread it, like whispers
So tell your friends about me, huh? Find me some new listeners
Or write about me online, let the gossip disperse
So that even if I die, my name survives in the Twitterverse


from The Rap Guide to Evolution Revised, released June 26, 2011
D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds
Additional Keys: Simon Kend


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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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