Monday, February 23, 2015

Baba Brinkman in Rap Guide to Religion at Soho Playhouse

I used to think rap
was a whole lot of crap
and I didn’t wanna go
down to Soho
just to see some lame hip-hop show.

But then when I finally made a decision
to actually see A Rap Guide to Religion
at the Soho Playhouse on Vandam Street,
I found that rap had a really great beat
and I thought that the show itself was neat
And its rapper-performer especially sweet.
In fact, it totally changed my opinion
of this generation’s musical vision
and I no longer view rap with scorn and derision.

And it’s all due to one guy whose name’s Baba Brinkman -
a likable dude who’ll sure make you think, man.
A Canadian atheist rapper who’s white –
a really odd combo – but he still turned out right.
He not only performs but wrote the whole show
and there don’t seem to be anything he don’t know.

He’s a big fan of Darwin
and thinks that hisTheory of Evolution
delivers the very best solution
to why everything turns out as it does:
like why honeybees buzz
and ducklings have fuzz
and why roses have thorns
and rhinos have horns
and why you have fingers and why you have toes
and the size of your butt
and the shape of your nose…

But that isn’t all ‘cause he also explains
all sorts of stuff ‘bout our human brains,
like why it should be that we try to maintain
that suffering and pain
are somehow related to some God Above
and go hand-in-glove
with Divine Love.

And here’s the answer: it’s not teleology,
It’s just biology.
There’s no supernatural direction.
It’s all just a function of natural selection.
It’s the fittest who survive
and we all want to stay alive
and have lots of offspring to populate our hive.

And that’s just fine.
There’s no need to explain anything by intelligent design.

But Brinkman has lots more about which to rap
like God in the Gaps
(where Yahweh is hiding
or maybe it’s Zeus or even Poseiden)
and Theory of Mind and the historical value of believing
(even if it turned out to be self-deceiving).

But the show’s not a paean to atheism,
Nor an attack on believing as mere superstition.
Brinkman, in short, is no Christopher Hitchens
who spent half his life complainin’ and bitchin’
about everything wrong that he saw in religion
and he’s not like Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins
who just went on talkin’ and talkin’ and talkin’
about all of the evil and harm that’s been done
by every religion under the sun.

No, that’s not Brinkman’s style, he’s not abusive
(despite his persistence
in denying God’s existence).
He’s much more inclusive
and concedes that religion (at least in the past)
served a worthwhile purpose (that may no longer last)
by strengthening the communal ties
that enabled societies to survive
and their members to thrive.

OK, here is the bottom line:
this is a show that’s really fine.
If you see it, you’ll not only learn a lot but you’ll have fun.
So don’t walk, run
down to the Soho Playhouse before it’s too late
‘cause this is a show that’s really great!


  1. Congratulations, Baba and Alan, both of you are fine rap artists!

  2. Wow, Alan. This is so creative. It was clearly time-consuming to write but hopefully also a lot of fun. It's given me an entirely new view of rap which, based on my prior, admittedly limited exposure through Jay Z, I'd assumed only used a vocabulary of 5 words. As in:
    Girls: "Yo ... Jay ... what's the meaning of life?"
    Jay Z: "You low-life bitch mutha-fuckin' ho."