By Hailey Nuthals, Highlighter Editor
Who’s the latest rising star in the rap scene? Is it that poet featured on Beyoncé’s “Lemonade?” Is it that guy you found on SoundCloud last week who’s doing a residency at that dive out in Brooklyn? Is it perhaps Baba Brinkman, the guy penning verses about climate change, religion, and psychology?
Brinkman’s an optimistic oft-smiling man who was grown and raised in Canada by a mother who wrote her thesis on environmental climate change and who is a member of the Canadian Parliament and whose father literally runs one of the world’s only private tree-planting companies (for which Brinkman spent several years helping out). Brinkman’s career took him from planting trees to laying down rhymes, gaining enough traction to host his own TEDx Talk. He even got invited to perform songs from his “Climate Chaos” show at the COP21 conference in Paris.
His show is aptly named – not because his raps and rhymes are eccentric and disorganized, but because its subject matter, though he can’t keep much of a straight face while performing, is so tremendously close to apocalyptic. Starting from the very beginning of what we know of climate change – which, as he mentions, was all the way back in the Industrial Revolution – Brinkman covers everything from what climate change is (the greenhouse gas effect) to what needs to be done to stop it. In fact, besides the fact that he’s rapping about science, that’s the most refreshingly new thing about the show. Too often, activists protest fossil fuel culture without offering practical solutions.
With a cleverly coordinated slideshow to back him up, Brinkman covers everything from deniers (“What’s Beef?”) to proving that climate change not a conservative versus liberal issue (“Laudato Si,” composed mostly of direct quotes from the current Pope) to the ever-important detail that climate change disproportionately affects those who do the least to cause it (ie, billionaire oil companies can use cap-and-trade to continue their behavior while underdeveloped nations and poorer citizens in developed areas have to suffer pollution and contamination).
As if the penned verses weren’t impressive enough, on his May 14th show last week, Brinkman invited Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University Michael Mann (yes, that Michael Mann) to help out in a Q&A portion that Brinkman then turned into a freestyle rap (quite successfully).
The complete package of Brinkman & his “Rap Guide to Climate Chaos” is cleverly seismic. If people won’t listen to scientists’ interviews on talk radios and news shows, will they listen – and will they act accordingly – if they can sing along? Brinkman thinks so, and we all hope he’s right.
Get tickets to “Climate Chaos” at SoHo Playhouse running until June 11th, 2016. Stream to his other albums on Spotify.