Baba Brinkman, an artist and activist, uses hip-hop as a tool to teach listeners about relevant and critical political issues. During his performance for Hofstra students in The Helene Fortunoff Theater on Tuesday, April 25, he centered his show on climate change.
The 38-year-old Canadian showcased a variety of songs from his newest album, “The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos.” Each song narrowed in on specific issues regarding climate change; the relevancy of the topic was reflected even in the song titles themselves. “Run the Joules,” “Mo’ Carbon Mo’ Problems” and “Make it Hot” were a few of the selections Brinkman included in the performance.
“I’d say it was an interesting take on learning,” said Alissa Vitale, a freshman psychology major who attended the performance. “I never thought I’d ever come across a climate change rapper, especially here at school.”
Brinkman hopes that young adults are able to take away life lessons from his performances. “The college kids of today are the levers of power for tomorrow,” he said. “I think the more people care at a young age the more they’ll find ways to implement it throughout their whole careers, and that’s necessary.”
Climate change is one of several topics which Brinkman focuses on in his craft. A few of his past album titles include, “The Rap Guide to Religion,” “The Rap Guide to Medicine” and “The Rap Guide to Human Nature.” He made his first appearance at Hofstra back in 2015, when he performed his set on religion.
When addressing contentious debates, Brinkman said he wants to “…put it front and center with people. Even people who think they already care, they may not know how urgent it is. And also, people who already care and think it’s enough to just recycle plastic bags. Hopefully listening to my songs can change that.”
Brinkman’s performance was brought to life by a brightly colored display of visuals flashing on the screen behind him. The satirical photos combined with relevant images of global warming gave the entire performance an atmosphere of both whimsicality and reality. Brinkman concluded the show with an impromptu freestyle rap where he gathered topics from audience questions.
Brinkman mentioned during the show that he was given the opportunity to perform at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Paris in 2015.
“I think it’s awesome that this guy is being noticed for something like this,” said Daniel Davidson, a sophomore political science major. “Even the U.N. is giving him the attention he deserves, and I think that’s great.”
But Brinkman notes that his own rise in popularity is not his first priority. “I want to reach as many people as I can, but without sacrificing the intellectual integrity of the subject,” he said. “Sometimes giving in to mass appeal means dumbing down the material – that’s where I resist it. But if there’s ways to balance mass appeal with a really comprehensive treatment of what you’re talking about, then that’s what I aspire to do.”