Nature Genetics | Free Association

Rapping genomes for the people

The tough thing about getting people excited and interested in genetics is that most people don’t know what a genome is. I’m dead serious. I come across these non-genome-knowers all of the time. I recently had a conversation with someone I just met: obviously intelligent, well-read and presumably a genome-knower. This person had heard the term “genome” before, but he just couldn’t define it. He had a vague inclination that a genome has something to do with DNA. But he did not specifically know that a genome is a copy of his genetic material and is present in each of his trillions of cells. Wow!


This is why I applaud Baba Brinkman. Brinkman is a ridiculously unique genome-knower and displays the best kind of artistic hybrid vigor: a well-honed intellect combined with a very rare rap-star, rhyming phenotype. He is best known for his hip-hop theatre show “The Rap Guide to Evolution.” Brinkman says that his goal in producing his new off-Broadway show, “Ingenious Nature,” now playing at Soho Playhouse, is to “popularize the findings of science by personalizing and dramatizing them through comedy, music, and character-driven theatre.”


In this show, Brinkman explores the evolutionary psychology of modern dating, by taking the audience through genetic data that is relevant to the subject of dating, but also just relevant period. He starts the show with the beat “I have a gene,” that is set to the inspiring sound of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream.” It just seems to make sense to start a show about the science of dating with the discovery of the genetic factor that dictates sex: the SRY gene. Raps Brinkman, “Think of all the different kinds of guys, / From gangster to interior designers to firemen / They all have SRYs inside them.”


If you are looking for an evening that merges genetics and entertainment, you have until January 6, 2013 to go see this show. And afterward, talk to Brinkman and tell him what you thought. He invites your peer review.



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