While many rap artists are touting their manhood, guns, and violence; one rapper is expounding various literary works.
Baba Brinkman is a 33 year old rap artist from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada with a Master’s degree in Medieval and Renaissance English Literature. Brinkman earned his Master’s degree from Simon Fraser University where his master’s thesis made a comparison of the similarities in Hip-Hop music and literary poetry.
“Every message is conductive to this medium,” said Brinkman. “That’s where the ‘Canterbury Tales’ idea came about; if I can rap medieval poetry, then that will show people the boundarylessness of the genre,” he adds. Along with the “Canterbury Tales”, Brinkman has rapped about Darwin, evolution, Gilgamesh, and Beowulf; bringing them alive and out of the dusty books. Brinkman tells his audiences, “this is bigger than me; it’s bigger than you; it’s bigger than rap. It’s bigger than fingers on triggers and bigger than gangsters slingin’ the crack. That’s just the latest version of an ancient story. The rage of warriors hungry for fame and glory.”
Born Dirk Brinkman, he spent 10 summers planting trees in the Rocky Mountains. He says he has personally planted over one million trees. Since graduating he has been touring with his award winning Hip-Hop theatre. “Everything we do is a tribute to Hip-Hop. I think I’m pretty rare in that I actually got an English Master’s degree because I wanted to be a more versatile MC,” said Brinkman.
Brinkman wanted to show people that while Hip-Hop culture is only 40 years old, rhyming and storytelling is hundreds of years old. Speaking on his choice to rap Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”; Brinkman says, “Chaucer wrote a rich and elaborate tapestry of medieval social life, combining snapshots of all classes, from nobles to workers, from priests and nuns to drunkards and thieves. The ‘Canterbury Tales’ are so unashamed and a totally piercing portrait of human nature and human foibles. And I think rap is that as well.”
Brinkman currently makes his home in New York City. “I’m not exactly drawn to small talk. As an MC, I want to tackle the most controversial interesting things in the world,” said Brinkman.
Brinkman’s “Rap Guide to Evolution” earned him the Scotsman Fringe First Award in 2009.