A “philosophical zombie” is a thought experiment, imagining a person who behaves normally in every measurable way, and has a normal-seeming brain, but is completely lacking in conscious experience. In this version, Baba imagines a zombie version of a hip-hop fan, presenting both a satire of the concept of zombies and also a satire of the presumed shallowness of hip-hop fans by non hip-hop fans.



Picture a zombie version of a hip-hop head
Not a flesh-eating zombie from The Walking Dead
This zombie listens to Nas and Dead Prez
He's kind of old school, like Busta Rhymes with dreads
He’s not the kind of zombie eating brains for a meal
But he’s way more gruesome and way harder to kill
‘Cause people always take him for a regular guy 
He can pass any physical test you devise
You want to question this zombie on the relative merits
Of Biggie and Tupac? He knows all of the lyrics
And when they died he cried, and poured liquor on concrete
This hip-hop zombie is kind of a big softie
So what exactly gives him “zombieness"?
Oh, did I forget to mention? He lacks consciousness
He’s indistinguishable from a human being
Except it's not “like anything” to be him
At rap shows, he goes wild when they hype the crowd
But there's nothing goin’ on inside – his lights are out
You could even take a scanner and examine his brain
You’d find every single part of it exactly the same
And if you asked him, he’d say “Hell yeah, I’m conscious
I’m conscious of the fly ladies with the tight haunches!”
He's not socially awkward, he's not unkind
He’s just a hip-hop zombie with an unconscious mind
Unconsciously quoting rap songs with bravado
“‘Cause you only live once, YOLO, that’s the motto!”
Could you imagine that? If so a conscious mind 
Might be more than the sum of physical stuff inside
Or maybe he’s no more imaginable
Than four corners on a triangular “O”
And if you think you can imagine this zombie
Try to imagine a way to prove that it’s not me

Anil Seth:
Now at one time, people thought the property of being alive
Could not be explained by physics and chemistry
That life had to be more than just mechanism
But people no longer think that
As biologists got on with the job
Of explaining the properties of living systems
The basic mystery of “what life is” started to fade away
And people didn’t propose any more magical solutions
Like a “force of life” or an “elan vital”
So, as with life, so with consciousness
Once we start explaining its properties
In terms of things happening inside brains and bodies
The apparently insoluble mystery of “what consciousness is”
Should start to fade away


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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