Baba Brinkman playing the SoHo Playhouse through June 11
Baba Brinkman is an original, informed and prolific artist. He first got a lot of attention with his one-man show, The Rap Canterbury Tales, which premiered at 2004’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A modern re-telling of The Canterbury Tales with hip-hop influences -– preceding Hamilton by years, yes –- this would not be his only foray into what many call “Lit Hop.”
Following the publishing of The Rap Canterbury Tales as a paperback, Rapconteur premiered in 2010, including hip-hop adaptations of Beowulf, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Finnish Kalevala. Baba’s creative output took a more scientific direction with 2008’s The Rap Guide To Evolution. Winner of a Fringe First Award, the show received acclaim from TV host Rachel Maddow, physicist Stephen Hawking, and paleontologist Jack Horner alike. Follow-up shows about human nature, medicine and religion were also popular.
Baba’s latest one man show, The Rap Guide To Climate Chaos, is currently playing at the SoHo Playhouse through June 11. Although commonly-identified as being from British Columbia, Baba turns out to be a resident of East Meadow.
How did you wind up living in East Meadow?
BB: My wife was living here when we met, whereas I was living with a friend in a two-bedroom apartment in Astoria. When the baby came along, it made more sense to move out here than vice versa for elbow room and a good family environment. Also, we live in my wife’s grandmother’s old house, so there’s a generational connection.
Do your neighbors call you Baba?
BB: Everyone calls me Baba, neighbors included.
Have you ever performed live on Long Island?
BB: I’ve done some student shows on college campuses out here, at Hofstra and Nassau Community College, but so far no local venues for the public. I’d like to, though.
Do you have a favorite restaurant on Long Island?
BB: Vincent’s Clam Bar on Old Country Road has some amazing pasta. I’m also a big fan of El Salvadoran food, since my family went on vacation there when I was a kid, and Pupuseria Carmelina on Jerusalem Avenue makes the best pupusas.
Originally coming from British Columbia, is there anything that you miss about Canada when you're on Long Island?
BB: Topography is the main thing. In Vancouver you can see coastal mountains all around, and there are some epic hiking trails just outside the city. It takes some getting used to when everything is flat in every direction. We go out to Caumsett State Park quite a lot though, which is a beautiful place.
Who is the best artist that our readers ought to learn about?
BB: Check out an electronica group called Kaleida from London. Their music is really stirring and different.
Finally, what do you wish more people knew about Long Island?
BB: You can ride your bike to most of the places nearby that you reflexively drive to. It takes a bit longer, but you see your neighborhood through new eyes. It’s less polluting, and frankly, you need the exercise.