Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Culture

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Gilded Balloon Teviot – Wine Bar
Aug 15-21, 23-26 (15.10)

Material: four-stars.png Delivery: four-stars.png  Laughs: two-stars.png  Room: three-stars.png


Its been ten years since Baba Brinkman premiered his Rap Guide to Evolution at the Fringe, since when he has maintained a high-profile international reputation. But a decade is a long time in the arts, & I was curious to see how his once-groundbreaking  style would fare in 2019. This year, his Guide to Culture is quite a piece. It relays an interesting and insightful philosophy where scientific rationalism meets street culture. It is in combination a history of rap, a hip-hop biography, and a social commentary of politics, sexual dimorphism, equity and equality.

This show is a well-researched and accessible academic analysis of culture, brought to us by a graduate of English Literature and hip-hop enthusiast. His rapping style is a long way from his gangster role models, while the educational content and simplified story telling might give the impression of a patronising schoolteacher, but by the end you cannot help but warm to his passion and openness. He certainly lives by the hip-hop maxim of “keep it real” – transforming an art form that he admits is difficult to appropriate into an engaging exposure of his intellectual interests and social commentary. His lyrics are a long way from the struggles of the streets, but rather a nerdy narrative of social evolution.

The problem with the show is that it is described as a comedy, but therein lies the rub.  There is a significant lack of well-crafted jokes and hard-hitting punchlines – the audience obviously found the content entertaining, but if hilarity is not the priority, why dwell in the comedy listings. However, the show itself is extremely well-written and tightly rehearsed, some of his verses are questionably simple yet his freestyles are undeniably impressive. Baba’s delivery was natural and engaging, and you can tell that he is purely in his element on stage, enjoying himself throughout with an infectious passion that spreads into all corners of the room.

Mat Boyd

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