Young Reviewers @ the Edinburgh Fringe: review of Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Consciousness

Every year Voice Mag sends a team of young reviewers to the Edinburgh Fringe. This year Sam Nead shares with us her review of the philosophical rap whirlwind that is Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Consciousness.


You’ll need your brain engaged for this one, but it’s completely worth it if you do!

Some reviews are easier to write than others. This one proved particularly difficult for me, mainly because I left the show absolutely speechless.

I have never before experienced scientific or philosophical rap, and I can now decidedly state that my life was the worse for it. Baba Brinkman’s intellectual rhymes are brilliant; his show is a hip hop sensation that will force you to re-examine your beliefs about your own mind and the potential power of artificial intelligence to perfectly replicate our cognitive processes.

Through a mixture of furious, fast-paced rapping and equally energetic explanations, Brinkman takes the audience on a mind-boggling journey of philosophical pondering. The use of visuals and thought experiments to help explain complicated concepts was definitely necessary, as often it was difficult to keep up with the words alone. Brinkman’s energy is boundless and he fills the room effortlessly, keeping the audience engaged even when the concepts threaten to overwhelm.

I’ve always loved the big philosophical questions, so I loved what Brinkman explored. What really is consciousness? Are we all conscious? Would a machine, if it did exactly what all of the 80 billion neurones in our brains do, be conscious? Add in fundamentalism, determinism, neuro-ethics and some classic Drumpf jokes, and you have a show that would surely scare off anyone who wasn’t a neuroscientist or philosophy professor. But, somehow, Brinkman makes these topics more approachable; more hip, more exciting, and much, much more rhythmic.

With my already-established love of both rapping and philosophy, I was predisposed to adore this show. However, there were times I found the show hard to follow, and that in turn detracted from the overall experience. You’d focus so hard on trying to catch what was said, you’d miss the next line.

As such, those who aren’t already into rap or philosophy are likely to find that this won’t be their cup of tea. But if you’re willing and ready to engage your brain and have a hip hop experience like no other, this is the show for you! 

Though the Fringe is now over, you can find out more about Baba Brinkman and his other shows here.

If this review has inspired you to learn more about rap and spoken word, why not enter SLAMbassadors? If you’re aged 12-18, all you have to do is record a film of yourself performing a spoken word piece on the theme of ‘identity’ and submit it to The Poetry Society for your chance to win professional development and performance opportunities. But be quick – the deadline is 30 September 2017! Find out how on the SLAMbassadors website.


Sam Nead is an 18 year old student who loves reading, writing and all things theatre-related. She is currently planning a pre-university gap year in which she plans to finish writing her first novel, before going on to study Liberal Arts and Sciences at Birmingham University. Sam’s review was originally published on Voice Mag: you can find it here and more of her articles be found on Voice.

Published September, 2017

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