The Rap Music that will teach you Evolutionary Biology

Via fellow Stanford-based blog Scope, news of a new website launched this week featuring the musical talents of evolutionary rapper Baba Brinkman. Last year, a post on this blog described Mr. Brinkman's evolutionary-themed music, which he was performing during a show entitled The Rap Guide to Evolution. The show is described on Mr. Brinkman's website as an exploration of "the history and current understanding of Darwin's theory, combining remixes of popular rap songs with storytelling rap/poems that cover Natural Selection, Artificial Selection, Sexual Selection, Group Selection, Unity of Common Descent, and Evolutionary Psychology." Notably, Mr. Brinkman's lyrics were throughly peer-reviewed by University of Birmingham's Dr. Mark Pallen, and are therefore highly scientifically and historically accurate.

Now, Mr. Brinkman, with support from the Wellcome Trust, has launched The Rap Guide to Evolution website, featuring videos of his songs (1 video is currently posted, with 11 more on their way), for the purpose of providing an educational tool to enhance the teaching of basic evolutionary concepts. A DVD compilation is in the works (which will include a handbook of lesson plans) with a scheduled release date for the September 2011 semester.

In total, the website will feature 12 videos. As of the publishing of this post, video for one song, Performance, Feedback Revision, has been uploaded. As I wrote last year, this song is one of my favorites, beginning with a lyrical account of how Mr. Brinkman creates his songs, and expanding into a description of the concept of descent-with-modification.

And sometimes people ask me: How does your show get written. Like this: Performance. Feedback. Revision … And how do human’s beings ever learn to do anything Like this: Performance. Feedback. Revision And evolution is really just kind of an algorithm that goes Like this: Performance. Feedback. Revision So the genetic code of every living thing was written Like this: Performance. Feedback. Revision So the genes are like a text with a thousand pages And revisions occur in the random changes that come from mutations. And when they see the light, well that’s the performance, that’s the phenotype.

Professional scientists, teachers, and members of the general public will all find Baba Brinkman's musical stylings highly enjoyable and remarkably educational. Personally, I am looking forward to the upcoming videos, and plan to use The Rap Guide to Evolution the next time I have to explain evolutionary biology to my parents.