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You Can't See Me

from The Rap Guide to Human Nature by Baba Brinkman

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The blind stares of a million pairs of third eyes
Lookin’ hard but they don’t realize
That they will never see

Who am I? I ain’t nothin’ but a tour guide
Usin’ science like an x-ray to see into your mind
I’m a voracious reader and a ruthless questioner
So if you hate the way I see things, don’t shoot the messenger!
But I’m not gonna lie, I get a personal thrill
Whenever I see science get popularized
So no, I’m not objective; good thing science
Has a something called a “method” that we can use to cross-reference
And acquire knowledge that’s really authentic
That’s how we know the solar system is heliocentric
And that’s how we know Charles Darwin’s theory was right
And every living creature is connected through the tree of life
Yeah, welcome to the future baby, a time when science
Is even illuminating the roots of human behaviour
So why do fish swim well and birds fly well?
For the same reason human beings lie to themselves

You can’t see me – which means you can’t clock me
You can’t tell which parts of my signal are costly
You can’t see me – which means you can’t test me
Your cheater detection instincts can’t detect me
You can’t see me – I’m the invisible gorilla
The blind spot in your vision that your mind has to fill up
You can’t see me – but if you can’t see me
Just imagine what else you can’t see

So just close your eyes when you listen to rap
And you’ll find a microcosm of the human mental map
Everything from costly signals to kin selection
‘Cause face it, you can’t see your motives with introspection
That’s simply how the human mind has been designed
That’s why my mom thinks that I’m the greatest rapper alive
That’s evolution – it’s genetic nepotism
And yes, rap is a sexually-selected exhibition
That’s why rappers are so obsessed with fornicating
Maybe high-status males just prefer short-term mating
And if you don’t think status is real, just think back
To the last time you had a rejection, how did it feel?
Whether a job application or a chat with the person next to you
Having status is having people say ‘yes’ to you
So how do I get you to say ‘yes’ to me as a rap guide?
Should I get a PhD or swing more to the gangster side?

Yeah, you can’t see me – so just close your eyes
And let my identity be a total surprise
So you can’t see me – yeah I’m jamming the signal
Who cares what I look like? Don’t be so judgmental
You can’t see me – and what if I claimed
That I was from the streets, just tryin’ to get outta the game?
You can’t see me – and what if I said
That I just freestyle all these lyrics off the top of my head?

You can’t see me, so you can’t quite say that I’m lyin’
But your mind is calculating to decide if it’s worth replyin'
And if you call me a liar, that’s ‘strong reciprocity’
Altruistic punishment, sacrificing to stop a cheat
And if you claim to believe, that’s an early adoption
And you get to earn respect if I turn out to be awesome
See, every time we actively choose, status accrues
And every choice is a trust that others have a chance to abuse
And that’s why we inhabit the world of cheater detection
And that’s why costly signaling is naturally selected
‘Cause every organism only perceives what it needs
For survival and reproduction, like ultraviolet for bees
And sonar for bats, there’s so much we can’t see
But the one thing we have evolved to catch is cheats
‘Cause people act like cheats to advance their genes
When means the one place I can’t turn my gaze is: back at me

You can’t see me – or maybe you can, hell
I might as well be talkin’ to my damn self
When I say you can’t see me – so to the whole human race
You can pray and meditate until you’re blue in the face
But you still can’t see me – call me “human nature”
Without using evolution as an illuminator
You can’t see me – it’s an act of defiance
An alliance between rap and rationalism
‘Cause only science can see me


from The Rap Guide to Human Nature, track released August 1, 2010


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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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