Rapper spits Chaucer’s rhymes

PUBLISHED: 14:29 10 September 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 10 September 2010

Baba Brinkman

Baba Brinkman


Baba Brinkman brings out the hip hop message in old school stories

As unlikely as integrating tales of Sumerian Kings, Chaucer and Beowulf with Jennifer Aniston, Slick Rick and Tiger Woods sounds, Canadian rapper Baba Brinkman pulled it off with convincing candour, writes Kate Nelson.

Returning to Greenwich Theatre last Wednesday with The Rap Canterbury Tales and Other Stories, the former tree planter and grand master of literature recited the hip hop versions of middle age stories that continue to win him critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival.

This man loves stories- his premise is that sex, greed, jealousy and lust are the driving forces of human nature and remain constant throughout time, so you can use any narrative form and cultural reference to explore them whether it’s Old English or rap, Roman poets or Dr. Dre.

His philosophy makes it easy for him to take Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale of mistrustful husband Januarie who marries the nubile but cheating nymph May and retell it with the lines “Januarie just watched her with lust in his eyes, when all he really wanted was to bust in her thighs”.

Perhaps that sounds crass but in the context of the performance it’s highly compelling. Brinkman’s punchy on-the-nose storytelling bubbles from him in a cadenced stream which is at once ingenious and accessible. What comes across most potently is his playful love of words, storytelling and literature.

For the full review, see Times Out in the Bexley Times.

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