PARTICIPANTS: Baba Brinkman, Jamie Simmonds, Heather Berlin, Stuart Firestein, Helen Fisher
PROGRAM DATE: Saturday, June 1, 2013

At once provocative, hilarious, intelligent and scientifically accurate, The Rap Guide is an unusual exposition of Charles Darwin’s theories, navigating natural selection, sexual selection and the evolutionary roots of human behavior, all in the setting of the world’s first peer-reviewed hip-hop show. How is bling like a peacock’s tail? What do scorpions, geese and gangster rappers have in common? Can white people be Afro-centric? Through clever re-workings of popular rap songs and original character driven story lines, explore a culturally evolved take on Darwinian evolution.

The Rap Guide to Evolution is part of a three show cycle, Evolutionary Tales, running May 31 to June 22 at the Player’s Theatre.

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Rap Artist, Writer

Canadian rap artist, writer, and former tree-planter, Baba Brinkman has personally planted more than one million trees in the Rocky Mountains. After graduating with an M.A. in comparative literature in 2003, he began his career as a rap troubadour. To date, Brinkman has released seven solo albums and written or co-written four hip-hop theatre shows—winning three awards and entertaining thousands of people during his six seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

His lyrical masterpiece, The Rap Guide to Evolution, won the prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award in Edinburgh in 2009, and was nominated for a 2012 Drama Desk Award. The show has been performed off-Broadway and on tour in the USA, Australia, and the UK, in addition to several TEDx conferences and on The Rachel Maddow Show on U.S. national television. Brinkman is a recent winner of the National Center for Science Education’s “Friend of Darwin Award” for his efforts to increase the public appreciation of evolutionary biology.

Producer, Sound Engineer, DJ

Jamie Simmonds is a professionally trained producer, audio engineer, and performer who specializes in hip-hop, theater, and custom projects. He has worked with several record labels such as NTone (Ninja Tune), K7, and Crammed/SSR, as well as major label artists like Alison Goldfrapp, Leftfield, and Pressure Drop. Simmonds is currently specializing in producing and mastering hip-hop and electronic music, and writing original soundtracks for critically acclaimed and award winning theater productions, including off-Broadway hits such as The Rap Guide to Evolution, The Canterbury Tales Remixed, and Ingenious Nature.

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Cognitive Neuroscientist

Heather Berlin is assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and visiting scholar at the New York Psychoanalytic Society. She explores interactions of the human brain and mind with the goal of contributing to improved treatment and prevention of impulsive and compulsive psychiatric disorders. She is also interested in the neural basis of consciousness, dynamic unconscious processes, and creativity. Berlin is a committee member for the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange, host of the CUNY TV series Science Goes to the Movies and presenter on the Discovery Channel series Superhuman Showdown. She has made numerous media appearances, including the History Channel, BBC World Service, StarTalk Radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and TEDx. Heather Berlin received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford and Master of Public Health from Harvard University.


Stuart Firestein is the chair of Columbia University’s department of biological sciences where, along with his colleagues, he studies the vertebrate olfactory system, possibly the best chemical detector on the face of the planet. Aside from its molecular detection capabilities, the olfactory system serves as a model for investigating general principles and mechanisms of signaling and perception in the brain.

Dedicated to promoting the accessibility of science to a public audience, Firestein serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program for the public understanding of science. He received the Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching. He is a fellow of the AAAS. Recently he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for science writing. His book on the workings of science for a general audience called Ignorance, How it Drives Science was released in 2012.

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Anthropologist, Author

Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University. She studies the evolution, brain systems (fMRI) and biological patterns of romantic love, mate choice, marriage, gender differences, personality, and the biology of leadership styles. She has written five internationally best selling books, including Why Him? Why Her?, Why We Love, and Anatomy of Love. She is currently the chief scientific advisor to and subsidiary,, where she designed the questionnaire now taken by 13 million people in 40 countries. She lectures worldwide, including lectures at the World Economic Forum (Davos), 2012 international meeting of the G-20, National Academy of Sciences, The Economist, TED, United Nations, Smithsonian Institution, Salk Institute and Harvard Medical School. She publishes widely in academic journals and appears regularly on TV, radio, and print media.