The Rap Guide to Religion

by Baba Brinkman

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CX
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CX Doesn't it just piss you off when someone does something that you have also imagined, but they do it way better than you could even imagine yourself doing? Favorite track: God of the Gaps (Feat. Gaiaisi).
Vlad Falevich
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Vlad Falevich They are all amazing! Amazing Album! It actually represents a lot of my attitude towards religion.

I can almost predict that Baba, in his research, came across Pascal Boyer's book Religion Explained. I can see the topics relate to many tracks on the album. Favorite track: Byproduct to Benefit.
Aaron Clifford
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Aaron Clifford I love rap and hip-hop, but as I've gotten older my tastes have matured. I don't care about fast cars and booty as much as I once did... That's why I love Baba Brinkman - he makes funky science earworms fof people who are open to change. Favorite track: Spread It.
Max Timothy Jay Meents
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Max Timothy Jay Meents Its good to see from a different perspective Favorite track: Give Thanks.
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1.
Invocation 02:52
Scribble scribble, inner vision How does an original scripture get written? How does it get taken for a true revelation Instead of imagination; what’s the difference? Slick talker, mystic stalker Against all odds, white Canadian hip-hopper Badge of honour, belong to the tribe Tryin’ to find the rhythm and rhyme to describe The ineffable, and measure the untestable Eff with the ineffable and get your seminal vesicle Severed. Gotta be more than clever Promised land, but the promise can’t deliver Mohamed the prophet of Islam was illiterate Hella eloquent, hence considered legitimate Nobody but god’s messenger could pull that off As if Eminem had just freestyled “Rap God” Improvisational skills improbable Still I’m skeptical, probably neurological Paul the Apostle, schizophrenic episode Addicted to religion, time to get some methadone Dead bodies everywhere, into the volcano Symbolism carved with a blade on a gravestone Jesus fish on a bumper, iconic Darwin fish, spaghetti monster, ironic Scientific method, quest for enlightenment No flies to vinegar, honey to entice ‘em in Rhymes are impediments, remedy forgetfulness A temple to enshrine sentimental efflorescences The crowd watches, like a voyeur Negative assessment, Shiva the destroyer Still conjuring words to invoke spirits Witchcraft on the mic with the ghost lyrics Swagger like a peacock, what is rap for? Hand on my crotch, standing on a trapdoor Encyclopedic, songs in a catalogue Charles Darwin on the mic tryin’ to battle god So many scattered thoughts, gotta reign ‘em in Get my skates strapped on for the main event Rap, religion, gotta take it serious Don’t pull punchlines, somethin’ for the curious Be fearless, and inquisitive Much safer now than when the inquisition visited Weave facts into rap vocabulary And see if anything’s left that’s not imaginary Try to rebuild the boat without sinkin’ it Duct tape, keep it afloat, brinkmanship No way to please both believers and heathers Try to at least offend for the right reasons
2.
I spent my whole life perplexed by religiousness Front door step debating with Jehova’s witnesses I was a teenaged empirical thinker, a spiritual seeker Obsessed with rap, I considered it lyrical research This was the medium that I could think and speak in Flippin’ ridiculous figures of speech over beats like every weekend My CD collection became my personal gospel I was an apostle, like Thomas, wondering was it impossible To rock shows and still be thoughtful, so paradoxical Speakin’ in tongues all over the drums like Pentecostals I figured if I could master the craft I could start a new religion Devoid of superstition, a descendent of secular humanism With the ecstatic rituals of ancient mystical shamanistical Visions, except based on philosophical naturalism Which means no counterfactual claims, no supernatural Nothin’ but reason and evidence, troops salute the rational In my religion the truth is sacred, and science adjudicates it And meditation is cool if you wanna find your buddha nature But human nature exists too, and it’s not rude to face it Enlightenment comes when we understand how evolution shapes it It’s a demon haunted world, you can take it from Carl Sagan, whether Christian or pagan, religion evolves Whether it benefits one of us or whether it benefits all Adaptive problems are gonna get solved, religion evolves The bigger the scale of a society, the bigger the gods People get along when someone’s watchin’ them, religion evolves We’ll send a rocket on a manned mission to mars If the holy wars don’t kill us first, let’s hope religion evolves I’ll turn my religion upon itself like an ouroboros Religion evolves, it adapts, ask a biologist A cognitive psychologist, a sociologist An anthropologist, a behavioural ecologist, religion is all of this Two or three new religions get founded a day They’re just like rap artists, most of them won’t be around in a decade They all compete for space and followers and human devotion Religion evolves ‘cause many are called but few are chosen Approximately ten thousand religions are currently active So forgive me if I don’t ask which exact version you practice Chances are, flip of a coin, it’s probably Abrahamic Half the planet is either Christian or Jewish or Islamic We can track the demographics, study the epidemiology But human beings have been religious since before the holocene Twelve thousand years ago, agricultural revolution Prior to that, most of our significant evolution Small scale societies surviving in the pleistocene Had a strong incentive to unite like a hive of bees Religion is a device for binding people tribally And if you’re in my tribe, well then I’ll die for you and you’ll die for me It’s a demon haunted world, you can take it from Carl Sagan, whether Christian or pagan, religion evolves Whether it benefits one of us or whether it benefits all Adaptive problems are gonna get solved, religion evolves The bigger the scale of a society, the bigger the gods People get along when someone’s watchin’ them, religion evolves We’ll send a rocket on a manned mission to mars If the holy wars don’t kill us first, let’s hope religion evolves Religion is an evolved mental technology, definitely But did it evolve culturally, or did it evolve genetically? Or is it a byproduct of several other mental capacities That evolved independently and separately function adaptively Like agency detection systems triggered hyperactively Or theory of mind, which means reading people tactically Like, I know what you’re thinkin’ – who the hell is Baba Brinkman? Is he some kind of cross between a prof and juvenile delinquent? Yeah that’s right, that’s what I am, now let’s get back to the question at hand I have a conscious mind and I’ll try to predict your thoughts as best I can And I predict you’ve never considered what religion is adapted for Or if you have, then I predict you’ve never heard it rapped before So how do I know it’s adaptive? It could be random drift It could be a byproduct of something else that has adaptiveness Like your belly button, which amazing, but it’s not really for Naval gazing; Nah, it’s a side effect of your umbilical chord So religion might be a viral meme that’s parasitic Or it might be an adaptation that maximizes descendants It might benefit individuals, or it might benefit whole groups Or it might be the invention of cynical priests trying to control you Or it might be a belly button byproduct, or adaptive in the past And maladaptive in the present, these are good questions to ask And science can find the answers, and the answers are non-obvious Except the answer to where religion doesn’t come from…

Divine providence
3.
In the beginning were natural causes A big bang and some physical processes Until one species evolved this Tendency to anthropomorphize objects It was a clever little hominid And other clever little hominids often surrounded it So it had to have a workin’ definition Of a person, a thing with intentions A rock is different, predictable It sits on the ground til you pick it up and throw it You can't hurt it or owe it a favour Or a debt, and if you did it wouldn't know it A person though, can really punish you Chew you up and spit you out when they're done with you Comin' at you with a gift, or an arrow Overlook a person at your peril So the hominid started to err On the side of finding persons everywhere In the rivers, in the rains, in the air You can’t see them, but they are there God of the gaps, I claim All that people can't explain For thy glory, thy fame Hallowed be thy name God of the gaps, I was thirsty For answers and you nursed me My questions got deaded I say "God did it” Now the clever little hominid Had good luck and thanked the gods for a lot of it The gods had personal attributes Genders, residences, attitudes Our father who art in heaven Gets pissed off whenever the bread’s leavened The gods were jealous, they gave commands And had super powers like Superman’s Now the clever little hominid Had a complex mind and religion was part of it But another part of it was inquisitive And had a thing for physical evidence Over time it developed a skill set Inductive reasoning, it couldn’t help it Everywhere the gods were thought to inhabit On investigation turned out to be not magic God of the gaps, I claim All that people can't explain For thy glory, thy fame Hallowed be thy name God of the gaps, I was thirsty For answers and you nursed me My questions got deaded I say "God did it” Now the clever little hominid Invented the scientific method and flaunted it In the face of religious dogmatists “We can explain what you thought the gods did!” The scientific method was wild No supernatural causes allowed And yeah it really did make sense of a lot But there were still a few gaps left for the gods What came before the big bang? How did the first living thing get made? And why is almost everyone alive so religious That’s gotta be divine interventionist But like a baby in the bath with a running tap Those gaps are filling up fast So what you gonna do, shut off the faucet? Or find a new gap for god with no conflict? God of the gaps, I claim All that people can't explain For thy glory, thy fame Hallowed be thy name God of the gaps, I was thirsty For answers and you nursed me My questions got deaded I say "God did it” God of the gaps, I claim All that people can't explain For thy glory, thy fame Hallowed be thy name God of the gaps, I was thirsty For answers and you nursed me My questions got deaded I say "God did it”
4.
Sapiosexual 03:50
Explanation is to cognition as orgasm is to reproduction Your brain is a promiscuous explanation seeker Info-maniac, desperately eager To get it’s tentacles into something that makes sense No rest for the insatiable, it stays drenched In stimuli, that’s what it was designed for Satisfaction is what it wants, it’s gotta find more Perplexity is tension, it begs for release Comprehension is bein’ mentally pleased So lay your brain back, I’ll try to satisfy it Just try it and I bet you keep comin’ back to buy it I get turned on by the ultimate questions One of the best ones is: why is sex fun? That’s what I think about when orgasm hits I’m like “unnhh” that’s gotta have adaptiveness That doesn’t mean havin’ a baby is my secret motive It’s just the reason people keep goin’ through these emotions The urgency is potent, even with contraceptives Natural selection only sees the consequences Lust! It’s not the fault of the gods Don’t mistake the mechanism for the ultimate cause Sex is adaptive, babies are the side effect Babies are not somethin’ we’re always tryin’ to get Ten thousand orgasms for one child Mostly no one’s around to catch what comes out Knowledge is adaptive, beliefs are the side effect The truth is not something we’re always tryin’ to get Ten thousand gods for one answer found Mostly no one’s around to fact check what comes out So where my sapiosexuals at? Where my sapiosexuals at? Come on Where my sapiosexuals at? Where my sapiosexuals at? Huh? The design of a brain is a catch-all practice If something worked in the past, on average And led to reproductive success and passed genes on It got adapted into the human theme song ‘Cause evolution favours whatever’s cheaper Your brain is rigged up as a massive pleasure seeker And if you want to get a person actively inquiring Investigating their environment, they need the wiring That gives ‘em that fire that burns in their stomachs That need to know – that makes ‘em squirm when they’re flummoxed And makes ‘em yearn for that information access And makes ‘em feel good when they find answers Even if they only have half of the story Even if some of the answers are masturbatory If the problems of life get solved overall That promiscuous mental module will get installed In the brain, which feels a need to believe That things have been explained, and then it came In which case god is the ultimate pleasure tickler ‘Cause god explains everything, in particular Sex is adaptive, babies are the side effect Babies are not somethin’ we’re always tryin’ to get Ten thousand orgasms for one child Mostly no one’s around to catch what comes out Knowledge is adaptive, beliefs are the side effect The truth is not something we’re always tryin’ to get Ten thousand gods for one answer found Mostly no one’s around to fact check what comes out I’m in a state of curiosity feelin’ like… grrrhhh But then the answer comes to me And it hits me like… Aaaahhhh
5.
Give Thanks 03:28
First of all, I wanna thank god, For blessing me to win this award And for the fans who got my back, I love y’all, and I thank god for that You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through To get here, so let me show you I came from difficult circumstances, And that affects a person’s chances I was really good at school, Straight A student, I played by the rules My white middle class parents Are still married, I never had a therapist I never really committed crimes I mean, I sold a bit of weed sometimes For pocket money in university But at twenty one I got my first degree At twenty four got my masters, And ever since then I made a living as a rapper Twelve years no day job Hence my unshakable faith in god I mean, talk about a underdog A middle class, caucasian rapper, what are the odds? I would’ve thought Macklemore would have that on lock For sure, but I guess not ‘Cause somehow I rap for a living The lord is generous and forgiving I ain’t even got the X-Factor Least likely to make it as a rapper And I rap about science You can’t explain that without divine guidance So I dedicate this award To the lord Everything happens for a reason It’s all about what you believe in
And if you got a grievance
The lord works via mysterious events Everything happens for a reason It’s all about what you believe in
And if you didn’t win
Well, the lord is mysterious
 Actually, I’m a atheist It’s in my nature to take the piss Just take “the lord” as a metaphor For the audience I’m tryin’ to get on board It sometimes seems kinda random My phantom powers convert you to fandom So I gotta thank Darwin He can’t hear this or strike a bargain But at least he gave us a framework To understand how the brain works A person is an intentional agent With diverse mental representations We got a brain like a smoke detector Hyper-vigilant architecture It goes off when there’s no agents around Just in case, is that a face in the clouds? You can’t take it for randomness Cause if someone is there, that’s a chance you’ll miss A chance to trade, a chance to mate A chance to escape But if nobody’s there, and you feel like there’s gotta be Well, that’s religiosity We feel this automatic attitude An evolved emotion called “gratitude” You can use it to recruit assistance But it leads to superstitions ‘Cause sometimes you gotta give thanks But to who? I’m drawin’ blanks So I’ll thank this audience listening For supporting rap with authenticity And I dedicate this award To the lord Everything happens for a reason It’s all about what you believe in
And if you got a grievance
The lord works via mysterious events Everything happens for a reason It’s all about what you believe in
And if you didn’t win
Well, the lord is mysterious
6.
Let’s take a measure of the misery and pain Suffered every second by every sentient being With a brain, with a sensory experience Sufficient to feel terrified, tortured, or furious Subtract the ones who must have done somethin’ To justify this kind of comeuppance And what’s left is the innocent remainder Poor little lambs and babies in a manger Who’s responsible for this calamity? Natural disaster, deaths in the family Tragedy strikes, and the victims react With religion, that’s a well-known fact Add up the infant mortality, pathogens Infections, violent crimes and cancer deaths And you end up with a “suffering index” And the bigger that is, the bigger religion gets Bad things happen to good people Good things happen to bad people Bad things happen to good people Bad things happen, bad things happen Bad things happen to good people Good things happen to bad people Any god who could change that But chose not to, is evil Here’s a catch-22 to grapple with Religious people tend to be higher in happiness And when tragedy strikes by accident Religion spikes right after it The more dysfunctional a country is The more people turn to faith just to function in it Secular people are less happy than people of faith But secular places are more safe And safe citizens really are happier Compared to where hardship’s nastier So the faithful have happier faces Than heathens in places that lack the basics But a heathen living in a safe place can Be better off than somebody praying in a wasteland Which means the more miserable you are The more religious you are overall, FUBAR Bad things happen to good people Good things happen to bad people Bad things happen to good people Bad things happen, bad things happen Bad things happen to good people Good things happen to bad people Any god who could change that But chose not to, is evil Whenever a devastating tragedy occurs Our instinct is to look for the perpetrator first “Who did that? We’re gonna punish somebody Whoever did it is about to get beaten bloody!” But some events have no person behind them People infer the perpetrator is divine then A supernatural agent was testing your faith when He sent those raging tsunami waves in And that’s a sticky situation How do you punish a supernatural agent? Logistically quite difficult It’s kinda tricky when the target is invisible You can’t stay mad at god, that’s pointless You’re probably better off tryin’ to get anointed And that’s why Mr. Almighty gets to claim All the credit, and none of the blame Bad things happen to good people Good things happen to bad people Bad things happen to good people Bad things happen, bad things happen Bad things happen to good people Good things happen to bad people Any god who could change that But chose not to, is evil
7.
I can see into the minds of people, but I’m not a mentalist No psychic powers required to predict your preferences My mind is constantly uploading info like an iCloud I can read your thoughts with just a glimpse of eyes and eyebrows Lovin’ it, not lovin’ it, confident, confused, covetous I can watch your body language for a second and discovered it It’s called “perspective taking,” also known as “mentalizing” When combined with oxytocin it can lead to empathizing What’s he thinkin? What’s she thinkin? What’s he thinkin’ she’s thinkin’ I’m thinkin’ he’s thinkin’ that she’s keen to get a drink with him But she’s thinkin’ he wants someone different to believe she’s into him ‘Cause competition can increase a person’s influence Now take that scenario, expand it exponentially And add layers of Shakespearean, Machiavellian density Until survival depends on mapping intentions mentally And that’s why evolution would have favoured this propensity I got my mind on your mental and your mental on my mind… No other animal can achieve this, believe it A chimp or a dog might conceal where food has been hid But a chimp can’t predict that when a man knows his wife believes That he’s out of town, he’d better creep to keep an eye on things And a dog could probably tell I’m good at rappin’ over these jams But it can’t tell whether you think your mom would think her friends would be fans That’s theory of mind: the ability to infer The contents of the mental based on actions observe ‘Cause we have invisible minds, with their own beliefs and desires Their own passions and pains when you hold their feet to the fire It’s a necessary but insufficient condition for god belief What do these ancestors and spirits and demons want from me? Disembodied minds communicating with us via signs Like coincidences and weather patterns and wind chimes Are these the end times, like ancient alien ghost hunting? Why don't they just tell us straight-up if they know something? I got my mind on your mental and your mental on my mind… If your ability to read mental content is disconnected You probably have a condition on the autism spectrum And that makes an intriguing prediction, it predicts That god’s intentions should be invisible to autistics And sure enough, they tend to think of god as an essence But not as a presence with personal thoughts and intentions And actually, autistic people are prone to atheism Cause why place your faith in god if he doesn’t take positions? If he’s perfectly indifferent; our religious intuitions Need more to keep them sweet than a sense of supreme disinterest And what's the opposite of a mind of the autistic kind? It's a paranoid schizophrenic mind that sees religious signs Of every size and shape on every side, every time A person takes a step it's a direct message from the divine Or a message from a devil, deception is his weapon And how can you tell the difference? You can tell by what you step in I got my mind on your mental and your mental on my mind… Okay, I know what you’re thinkin’ – that’s a first-order theory And you can tell that I know what you’re thinkin’ – second-order theory Third-order: she can see that you can tell that I know what you’re thinkin Fourth-order: keep a poker face and quit blinkin’ I can get inside your head in ‘bout a second so forget it I’m the perfect combination of autistic and schizophrenic Artistic and scientific, my skills are mentalistic If I couldn’t represent you mentally I couldn’t spit this I got Christian cousins, and they believe that god loves them And hugs them and wants nothin’ but obedience from them Which means their mental “theory of mind” module is buzzin' Every time they pray to or for somethin' That same module is how Mona Lisa sees into your soul And how Scorsese movies can make a lotta dough It all flows from that evolved capacity for mental hijinks When you model a model of a model of what a mind thinks
8.
What’s the original origin of religion? Is it teleology? Agency detection? Theory of mind, or anthropomorphism? Those are byproducts of common social cognition So there was no benefit, huh? No function? Just a random bunch of intuitions and hunches Just mental eruptions in a population of primates Tryin’ to keep track of each others’ changeable mind states Minds play tricks like Scarface and Bushwick  They see intentions in every rustle of bushes But so what if religion started kinda random Nothin’ adaptive about it, just a spandrel? That doesn't mean it stayed that way, it could've taken A turn for the beneficial and become an adaptation That’s what happened to feathers, birds can fly and soar Even if their descended from a terrestrial dinosaur But Jurassic World lost the plot a bit It pissed off a whole lot of palaeontologists ‘Cause raptors had feathers, the question is why Would evolution produce a feather that can’t fly? Here’s a toast to the scavengers Leveraging advantages Makin’ something outta nothin’ Byproducts into benefits Here’s a toast to survivors To the dumpster divers Makin’ beauty out of blemishes Byproducts into benefits Take a look at a flock of velociraptors They can’t fly but feathers are also attractive So they’re good for displays and mating dances And they're fuzzy, so there's an insulation factor How else you gonna to keep a tyrannosaur warm In a rain storm? That's how the feather was formed But dinosaurs ran into an asteroid apocalypse A few survivors descended from archaeopteryx  A new function for the feather was found  Propelling an organism across the ground Mutations accumulated and spread them flatter Gradually makin’ them more aerodynamic  And dinosaurs survived; they recolonized the earth Today we know them as “birds” Okay, dinosaurs didn't make it, but their descendants did They turned a byproduct into a benefit Here’s a toast to the scavengers Leveraging advantages Makin’ something outta nothin’ Byproducts into benefits Here’s a toast to survivors To the dumpster divers Makin’ beauty out of blemishes Byproducts into benefits The original origins of religion A side effect of social cognition An imaginary population of intuitions  Ancestors, gods and apparitions But populations change, they’re not static They fluctuate like soft plastic Some gods proliferate, others fade away Like Poseidon, who nobody prays to today You're a Poseidon atheist, admit it And you're comfortable with it, which makes you a militant Poseidon atheist – “Poseidon theology” Used to be huge, but now we call it “oceanography” Beliefs change and impact behaviour They spread from head to head through oral labia So what's religion, a byproduct or benefit? Well that depends on what you spread with it Here’s a toast to the scavengers Leveraging advantages Makin’ something outta nothin’ Byproducts into benefits Here’s a toast to survivors To the dumpster divers Makin’ beauty out of blemishes Byproducts into benefits
9.
Spread It 02:56
When your brain absorbs information its kinda picky So what makes a piece of information sticky? Sticky-icky Sticky-icky-icky-icky Repetition helps a little bit, definitely Plus ideas spread when they’re counterintuitive But minimally, ‘cause you don’t wanna ruin it It’s not gonna get caught in your brain if it’s mundane Just think about what they say in church on Sunday A virgin gives birth, your sins are forgiven A horse with wings carries a rider into heaven A jealous god demands a human sacrifice Water into wine, the dead coming back to life Standard categories minimally violated One step away from profane is the sacred That’s why a rapper tells you he's millionaire With twenty mistresses, but not a trillionaire With twenty thousand – see, it’s gotta be plausible We instinctively reject whatever's blatantly impossible And if you want to spread ideas like a virus Add a little dash of spice, sex and violence Spread it, spread it spread it spread it If it gets big enough you get credit Spread it, post it on reddit Spread it! Or else let it die and forget it Spread it, spread it spread it spread it If it gets big enough you get credit Spread it, post it on reddit Spread it! Or else let it die and forget it Some ideas catch on ‘cause they’re adaptive Others spread ‘cause the source is high status A concept endorsed by somebody prestigious Has a greater chance that other people will believe it Justin Bieber get young girls into Jesus And I tend to believe whatever Jay-Z says Another factor is popular endorsement When in Rome, do what the Romans do with their horses And plus, people follow trustworthiness But how can you tell if someone’s just a dirty snitch? We follow people who can prove their commitment To their belief system with costly investment Actions speak louder than words, can ya feel me? If not, maybe I’ll get it tattooed on my belly Religions are the same, they demand demonstrations Of faith, such a costly waste Bodily mutilations and food taboos You can use those cues to deduce the truth And finally, well, it’s a controversial issue But some ideas spread ‘cause they’re actually beneficial Spread it, spread it spread it spread it If it gets big enough you get credit Spread it, post it on reddit Spread it! Or else let it die and forget it
10.
Religions, replicating is their expertise They’re infectious, people are the vectors Spreading contagious information Integrating it into their mental matrix A child gets indoctrinated Skepticism hasn’t developed yet to inoculate it And the parents believe in a deity Or several deities, yeah, demons and angel seem As real the postman, they believe in them faithfully Even if other people see them as make believe The details tend to be ridiculous Extra credit for those who really stick with it Virus of the mind, if that’s what religion is The effects of it are predicted to be negative A burden, a waste, a regrettable detriment No evolutionary benefit It’s just a delusion The feelin’ I get is incredible no one tell me it isn’t amazing You're suffering confusion Are you really thinkin’ that you’re gonna take it away from me by explaining? It’s just a delusion The feelin’ I get is incredible no one tell me it isn’t amazing You're suffering from Are you really thinkin’ that you’re gonna take it away from me by explaining? Religions, some people think they’re viruses Why else would someone commit suicide for it? Are you tryin’ to get a ticket to the paradise party With a kamikaze jihadi bomb on your body? Well a ticket to oblivion is all it’s really givin’ you Are you infected with a liver fluke? It’s lookin’ like toxoplasmosis A parasite that infects cats and rodents And the rodent’s brain gets some rewiring So they’re suddenly attracted to the felines, shwing! Good for the parasite, bad for the host Spread it like the holy ghost A virus of the mind, if that’s what religion is The effects of it are predicted to be negative A burden, a waste, a regrettable detriment No evolutionary benefit It’s just a delusion The feelin’ I get is incredible no one tell me it isn’t amazing You're suffering confusion Are you really thinkin’ that you’re gonna take it away from me by explaining? It’s just a delusion The feelin’ I get is incredible no one tell me it isn’t amazing You're suffering from Are you really thinkin’ that you’re gonna take it away from me by explaining? Religion, is it good for us or bad for us? Costs and benefits, get the ledger and add them up If it’s like a virus, the carriers are vexed With nothin’ but negative deleterious effects Or maybe it hitchhikes instead of hijacks us Benign like the mites that live in your eyelashes Or it could be beneficial like commensal Bacteria, makin’ digestion less difficult If it’s mostly bad for people most of the time Well then it’s gotta be a virus of the mind But if you find evolutionary benefits Sufficient to offset the negatives Well then it fails in a test of evidence And virus of the mind theory isn’t the best fit You wanna measure evolutionary benefits? Just count the surviving grandkids It’s just a delusion Virus of the mind You’re suffering confusion It can’t be right It’s just a delusion Have you seen religious people? You’re suffering from Look at their family size! It’s just a delusion Virus of the mind You’re suffering confusion Virus of the mind It’s just a delusion Virus of the mind You’re suffering from
11.
We can take our time, we don’t have to hurry Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray Hand on the bible, no perjury to the jury Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray My great great great grandfather was a Scottish Presbyterian He traveled to South Africa to settle and get married in The Transvaal, which was an Afrikaner area That Dutch Reform Christian folk were farming dairy in My great great great grandfather Andrew Murray was a minister 1822 he emigrated to begin his work Preaching sermons every Sunday for the sons and daughters Of the Boer people, the cattle-farming Afrikaners Calvinism was the religion, he did the honours David Livingstone was one of his visiting doctors He went to Holland first to learn the tongue of the Netherlands He needed it to tend his flock and be a better Reverend Mooi! Maria Stegmann was his sixteen year old Wife and soon they had a couple of kids, I’m talkin’ plural Nice! Andrew junior was a writer He wrote The Prayer Life, Abide in Christ and other fine works Two hundred and forty total books of Christian piety Surrender and devotion, obedience and sobriety I come from good good Scottish protestant stock My ancestors loved that divine providence talk My ancestors, well they weren’t exactly rational Except that natural selection trades in one capital Surviving descendants, raw genetic self-interest And that’s different from individual forms of selfishness Andrew Murray could’ve set up shop to sell fishnets On the Scottish coast, but he was just too religious So instead he was a fishermen of men like the apostles He read his gospels and had as many kids as possible
 But we can take our time, we don’t have to hurry Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray Hand on the bible, no perjury to the jury Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray So if I’m livin’ and my cousins are livin' Maybe there’s something more to my great grandfather’s religion Than meets the naked eye, ‘cause they spread the word of Christ And they married fertile wives and their children’s children thrived And I bet they’d probably tell you they did it for Jesus’ sake and Not because the love of Jesus leads to baby-makin’ But I’m tryin’ to see how these religions came to be And that’s different from the reason people say they believe ‘Cause if beliefs can motivate you to an action that’s adaptive There’s no reason those beliefs need to be factually accurate In fact, if they can motivate you better with distractions From reality, well we would call that “practically accurate” And pragmatism when you’re talkin’ natural selection Just means: “Whatever leads to leavin’ plentiful descendants” That’s the “ultimate cause” and to emphasize the difference The “proximate cause” is in emotional mechanisms And yes, participation in a church can bring some benefits Mutual collectivist assistance and the rest of it The circling of wagons and defence of all your brethren The measurable acceptance and love and trust and togetherness That comes from bein’ part of somethin’ bigger than yourself If you need to find community, hey, religion can help But I’ve got my own community, some hippie Canadians Some hip-hop heads and some entertainers and atheists And writers and some scientists and profs at some colleges And yeah, religious people seem to be outbreeding all of us
 But we can take our time, we don’t have to hurry Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray Hand on the bible, no perjury to the jury Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray I went down to South Africa to meet my Christians cousins And whoa! I’ve got dozens to the power of dozens Explosive exponential growth, I’m talkin’ hundreds And hundreds, my cousin Teo did the sums and number crunchin’ And yeah, Andrew Murray’s doin’ okay genetically Let me break it down for you geometrically Andrew and his teenaged wife Maria Stegmann Had sixteen children and one of them had sixteen children And the rest had nine or ten, and some died at a young age But their surviving grandchildren numbered a hundred and eight And every single one of his sons became ministers In the church, and every one of his daughters married ministers And it worked, Andrew Murray had eight thousand descendants Of which five thousand are now currently livin’ Of which only one is kickin’ raps about religion And that, ladies and gentlemen, is natural selection So here's a definition of religion: it’s an evolved Mechanism for converting resources into descendants Evolved via culture through religious competitions And evolved in our mental architecture that’s intrinsic Cause our minds are designed to get religious in the right conditions Especially when things are fragile and your life is threatened See, Andrew Murray preached a sermon every Sunday But I be preachin' on stages myself so I can't complain I'm just glad my sister and my women cousins Aren't expected to have babies by the dozens and dozens I mean, Maria Stegmann could've had a career I guess she was born in the wrong year, poor dear Well her great great great great granddaughter will be brought up religion free Let’s see if my baby makes her decisions differently I got a preacher’s blood, but with a science brain So let's take this godless revival to a higher plain I got a preacher’s blood, but with a science brain So let’s take this godless revival to a higher plain! But we can take our time, we don’t have to hurry Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray Hand on the bible, no perjury to the jury 
Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray
12.
Take a look at the sky And gaze at a billion stars Seven billion people Catch that feelin' of awe Building civilizations Going back millennia  Thank the fertility gods Fertility gods  Take a look at a mosque, take a look at a church, take a look at a synagogue  Any religion, ashram, temple, muslim, christian, hindu, any god  What does every one of them have in common? Followers who attend more often Tend to have more offspring, you can check, but that effect is relatively modern This civilization isn't much like the time and place we evolved in Back in the Stone Age having sixteen babies wasn’t really an option Women had their hands full all day working, weaving, gathering, hunting Then farming changed the game, resources were suddenly abundant  And fledgling civilizations started to compete to increase their numbers And soon religion had a new function: policing reproduction The local religion promotes having children as a woman's highest calling And if it isn't in wedlock and as soon as possible, the sky is falling It seems kinda Machiavellian, suppressing any act of rebellion But just 'cause it seems designed doesn't mean the designer has to be brilliant Cultures produce designs, they test and try different combinations And promoting fertility might have helped some to avoid foreign domination Take a look at the sky And gaze at a billion stars Seven billion people Catch that feelin' of awe Building civilizations Going back millennia  Thank the fertility gods Fertility gods  Religion isn't just for finding peace in a earthquake or Jesus' birthday For the past ten thousand years it invented ways to increase the birthrate  Cause bigger states tend to annihilate and assimilate little states  And religion is just one way that little states innovate to become bigger states And lately women's liberation's given them basic rights take their fates  In their own hands and oh damn, religion's so resistant to women tryin’ to liberate Those sinful contraceptives are not in the bible, they're novel methods Of giving women control of their own bodies, so they draw god's invectives Abortion doctors are devils and Michelle Obama's immodest dresses And cover your faces in public places and follow all the Imam's directives And don't use condoms, even if your spouse is HIV infected? Religious people should be really thankful that hell is just a cheap fiction And demographics are shifting and despite religion when opportunity  Knocks for women, whether education or economic, they stop reproducing At four times replacement rates and concentrate on their own agendas  And what happens to the old men in control of religion then? I don't remember Take a look at the sky And gaze at a billion stars Seven billion people Catch that feelin' of awe Building civilizations Going back millennia  Thank the fertility gods Fertility gods 
13.
Big Gods 04:51
If you want to get to origins of religion You gotta start with your ancestors We’re goin’ tribal y’all Religions are devices for coordinating action And keeping people from fragmenting into warring factions The benefits of sticking together are kinda fragile And people on their own are like wheels without an axel We all used to be hunters and gatherers not so long ago We played the kinda games that only pygmies in the Congo know Sometimes “back to nature” is the place I wanna go So journey with me back to a time when no one’s on their own Put your iPhone aside and come with me We're livin' in a tribe of no more than one fifty Our sons or daughters get traded to the neighbour tribe Cause breakers of incest taboos don't get to stay alive That's just a “cultural thing”, everybody knows The gods live in every tree and under every stone The gods don't enforce our laws though; the laws are tribal Indulge your homicidal side and pay the blood libel Ain’t nobody messin’ with my animism click, click, click, click The rest of us are counting on you to act right, so don’t be a… Everything we do is communal, that's critical Any prima donna grandstanding gets ridiculed All the gods do is visit shamans in their trances Make mischief and disasters and play with us when we're dancin' But they don’t punish or reward us in the afterlife It’s dark and boring there; the gods want a sacrifice They wanna help us to move and sway to the rhythm And they're please whenever we collectively make a decision And those who break with custom get punished with ostracism and gossip The gods don’t watch us but somebody’s watchin’ so watch it It’s life and death out here, we need vigilance There’s always war parties raiding on our villages Anybody shirkin’ a burden to benefit himself At the expense of someone else, gets expelled It’s been this way since time immemorial One for all, all for one, that’s the warrior code Ain’t nobody messin’ with my tribalism click, click, click, click The rest of us are counting on you to act right, so don’t be a…
 Religions are for coordinating action In practice they can fragment us into some warring factions The benefits of stickin’ together are kinda fragile And people on their own are like wheels without an axel But lately we’ve been planting some barley and tending cattle Now we got a stockpile and a standing army for battle But now it seems like half the people I meet are anonymous The honour system is breaking down, there’s something wrong with us Ten thousand people in a city-state metropolis Now we got a sky god lookin’ down, watchin’ us Supernatural monitors keep the people in line They don’t only see your actions; they can see into your mind And after you die, the gods will judge you and face you And either raise you into their presence or curse and disgrace you And punish you in this life too, with ill fortune But nothin’ gets ‘em shakin’ like the fear of hell scorchin’ Ain’t nobody messin’ with my true believer click, click, click, click The rest of us are counting on you to act right, so don’t be a… Now believers can establish new trade routes Bonds of mutual trust benefit the faithful Anonymous strangers say the words and exchange favours And make wagers on common causes and face dangers But no one trusts you if you don’t perform the rituals And make habitual sacrifices at frequent intervals Public demonstrations, the more wasteful the better Costly advertisements so people can take your measure And believe you believe, so the trust can continue And once the bonds are cemented, we’ll form an insular in-group And members of the out-group are less human And when they transgress we’re less prone to excuse them Cooperation has a dark side lurkin’ Religious wars are just religions workin’ We climbed the ladder of society with big gods But lately we’ve made up some other ways people get watched We climbed the ladder of society with big gods But lately there’s some other ways people can get watched That’s the punishment; the gods above are lovin’ it The system’s organized to get to you and who you runnin’ with Nowadays we rely on the government But once upon a time it was supernatural punishment We post online and when there’s crime we uncover it But once upon a time it was supernatural punishment ‘Cause ain’t nobody messin’ with my secular click, click, click We respect authorities as long as they’re civic, ick, ick
14.
Okay, so if belief in a supernatural monitor god That supervises morality Is a cultural evolutionary adaptation That spread because it incentivized cooperation In large scale socieites Giving them an adaptive edge in competitions Well then that predicts that religious people Should really mistrust atheists, huh? I used to call myself an agnostic  But that was just me bein' politically correct What's my name? Baba! The B-A-B-A's a Mystic honorific in south and west Asia Named for my contemplative demeanour at the scene of my nativity My folks were hippies in the seventies They thought a baby with the face of a Buddhist monk Must be a reincarnated Buddhist monk, who’d've thunk? I grew up around a lotta new age woo Deepak Chopra, Yoga, What the Bleep Do We know, holy Eckhart Tolle, it was a heady brew And yeah, I went through a woo phase too I'm still cool with the yoga stretchin’ But not with supernatural forces, nonexistent No gods, no heaven, no hell No karma, except for the kind we forge ourselves And loads of heathens have told me that even though they don't believe in Them, they think that other people need them to be moral creatures If gods don’t exist, they needs to be invented ‘Cause without them everything is permitted We live in your neighbourhood Don’t be afraid of us For facing the world without faith Get used to us, we’re stayin’ put And if you try livin’ without god You might find it liberates My atheism’s intellectual Faith-based claims are either untestable Or testable and evidentially contemptible But then I learned that atheists are unelectable And trusted somewhat less than child molesters Damn, I thought it was an epistemological question! You’re thinkin’ just because I don’t believe I’m bein’ watched When I’m alone, that I’m about to go turn into Ghengis Kahn? Or pull a Sandy Hook on ‘em? Get a grip man Morality is like a bike, religion’s like a kick stand You can’t imagine somebody being honest Without the aid of a crutch, because you’re leaning on it I get it, but god is not the only scaffolding That props you up with tough choices when you’re grappling It may come as a slap in the face to republicans But atheism increases under stable governments In other words, people don’t need gods When they feel they can trust cops to keep the laws You think trust is earned by showin’ up for church? I trust an Uber driver first, you can check his work My grandfather thought religion can save us But I place more faith in digital reputations Besides, religion isn’t always ethical Je suis Charlie Hebdo We live in your neighbourhood Don’t be afraid of us For facing the world without faith Get used to us, we’re stayin’ put And if you try livin’ without god You might find it liberates All my nonbelievers All my godless heathens Ask us why we’re not just bein’ Evil, we got lots of reasons And if you stopped believin’ Would you be choppin’ people up? What’s keepin’ you from slaughtering? I hope it’s not just preachers Greydon Square: I used to believe in a god just like fools Before The Compton Effect, The Scale, and Type 2 Before the physics The christian god was the lord of wisdom I was the same and abhorred the different As a black dude I ate it up I would shuffle into the pews and pray for stuff Stay for what? The girls with the amazing butts Of course I’m an ape, being forced a bible but the fables sucked Slave lineage They taught us to shame the knowledge and praise ignorance After grace The methods were just insidious But believe it even though it’s hideous, Cuz “masta say” I thought “no way this could be heaven sent” So I started doing research, looking for evidence Inspect theology and afterlife Stepping into vivid color from a simple life of black and white Now when I’m smashin’ the mic My appetite is disruptive facts on wax that you happen to like They say we're less moral Naw, we just sniff the bullshit out like it’s fresh floral We actually test thorough We live in your neighbourhood Don’t be afraid of us For facing the world without faith Get used to us, we’re stayin’ put And if you try livin’ without god You might find it liberates
15.
Imagine 04:15
Like John Lennon I can imagine a world with no religion It’s a world you can visit, just get a ticket to Denmark, Norway or Finland I can imagine a world without religion even if religious is adaptive And religious rituals are designed to elevate, bind, and enrapture us
 Nature is full of adaptations that fill us with a sense of admiration From the peacock to the leopard asleep in the treetops, it’s all so amazing Which means religion is also amazing, incentivizing cooperation Building civilizations and building trust among strangers in congregations
 And building walls of separation between competing factions Religion enhances and also entrenches human interactions And yeah, I can imagine a world with no religion; it’s not so far fetched In fact, that world has been imagined already; it’s called “Star Trek”
 And yes, I too dream of a unified human race exploring space But for that to happen we’d have to see the end of wars over faith Or maybe just the end of faith, but this view of religion is an antidote It’s the evolutionary view, which every human on this planet should know
 Even if they don’t agree with it, don’t agree with it! That’s fine, just try to comprehend it If everybody could at least comprehend it, religious violence would be all but ended This vision begins with every human being as part of one species An African ape that expanded its range, but we can still interbreed with ease
 We all share a common ancestor a couple hundred thousand years ago And we all share a set of instincts that are known by the label "spiritual" A set of practices that assisted our ancestors in becoming ancestral But that doesn't mean religion today is either benign or beneficial Things done changed! There's more information out there for the curious And scientific findings are contradicting varieties of religious experience And today belief in the supernatural isn’t necessary or sufficient To live a meaningful life, but it does carry some nasty baggage with it Like homophobic scriptures, sectarian divisions, karmic victim blaming Pernicious guilt, fear of hell, taking infidels into slavery Treating women shamefully, and trusting the gods instead of changing things If everything happens for a reason, those reasons could use some explaining
 So yeah, I can imagine a world without religion, but that's not my vision My vision is a world with religion, in which religion is naturalistic It embraces the path we've been on, and the fact that we're naturally selected And celebrates our place in the cosmos, and the planet we’re inhabiting in it
 But with no supernatural, no superstition, no miracles breakin’ the laws of physics And no religious justification for the mistreatment of conspecifics With the supernatural gone, we can still experience transcendence We’ll get it from dancing and meditation, we’ll tap into compassion without limits
 We’ll get it from music and moving images, from shared moments as audience members We’ll get it from nature, from being intrinsically part of it instead of separate But most of all, we get it from connecting with our fellow citizen humans From that feeling of expansion that's endowed in us by evolution
 So join me in imagining religion entirely naturalized In which communal rituals and stories still survive to enhance our lives In which we live to improve this world, ‘cause there’s nothing after we die Imagine how good that could be, it’s easy if you try

about

The Rap Guide to Religion is a hip-hop concept album about the evolution of religious instincts, by Canadian science rapper Baba Brinkman. If the answer to the number one BIG QUESTION of religion is "no", what other questions are worth asking? This album tackles the OTHER big questions of religion, such as "How did faith evolve?", "Does it serve any adaptive purpose today?", and "Is religion an adaptation, a byproduct of an adaptation, or a virus of the mind?”

With lyrics that were "peer reviewed" for accuracy by experts in the field of Evolutionary Religious Studies, Rap Guide to Religion offers fifteen tracks of mind-blowing science and auditory irreverence from a truly unique voice in hip-hop.

Reviews:

"Brinkman is able to successfully combine mind-expanding academic knowledge but with beats that make you tap your fingers on the steering wheel and earworms that can stay in your head for days."
– Daily Beast
www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/25/canada-s-white-rapper-takes-on-religion.html

"Terrific and informative"
– Huffington Post
www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-james-clark/baba-brinkman-rappin-reli_b_8516166.html

"A thought-provoking and hip exploration of some of humanity’s deepest concerns"
– This View of Life Magazine
evolution-institute.org/article/baba-brinkman-rapping-up-evolutionary-theories-of-religion/

"Major themes; big thinking"
– The Province
www.theprovince.com/touch/story.html?id=11516515

“Baba Brinkman is the Eminem of atheism and the Jay-Z of secularism—a rapping genius with biting wit that appeals to a whole new generation of free thinkers and humanists fed up with religion’s cultural dominance. His Rap Guide to Religion is for this decade what Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion was for the previous decade—a breakthrough work that changes peoples’ perspective."
—Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine and author of "The Moral Arc"

"Rap Guide to Religion is insightful, daring, and hilarious. An unforgettable exploration of one of humanity's most enduring and puzzling experiences.”
— Ara Norenzayan, Professor of Psychology and Author of "Big Gods"

"A lyrical masterpiece that makes you bounce your head at the same time it makes you use it.”
— Peter Boghossian, Philosopher and Author of A Manual for Creating Atheists

"Baba Brinkman gets into your mind with music, drops in new ideas based on the latest science, and leaves you with a feeling of enlightenment.”
— Jonathan Haidt, Author of "The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion"

credits

released October 23, 2015

Special thanks to the 314 Kickstarter backers who made this album possible.

Shouts out to John Teehan, Michael Blume, Stewart Guthrie, Richard Sosis, David Sloan Wilson, and Jonathan Haidt – thanks for your "peer review" input.

And thanks to Kate Smurthwaite for clarifying my thinking on the BIG QUESTIONS of religion.

Credits:

1. Invocation
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds
Cello by Peggy Lee

2. Religion Evolves
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Co-Produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds

Further Reading:
1. bit.ly/1EdHXxU
2. bit.ly/1KeBTpD

3. God of the Gaps (Feat. Gaiaisi)
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Chorus Vocals by Gaiaisi
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Additional Vocals by Linder Kidder
Mixed by Lin Gardiner

Further Reading:
1. www.religiousstudiesproject.com/podcast/religion-as-anthropomorphism-an-interview-with-stewart-guthrie/
2. www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/04/08/398227737/what-the-god-of-the-gaps-teaches-us-about-science
3. www.michaelshermer.com/2013/07/gods-of-the-gaps/

4. Sapiosexual
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall

Further Reading: www.alisongopnik.com/papers_alison/Explain%20final.pdf

5. Give Thanks
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall

Further Reading:
1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_detection
2. bit.ly/1KeBOlV

6. Bad Things Happen
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Mixed by Lin Gardiner

Further Reading: www.mpmlab.org/Gray%20&%20Wegner%20(2010).%20Blaming%20God%20for%20our%20Pain.%20PSPR.pdf

7. Theory of Mind
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Co-Produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds

Further Reading:
www.livescience.com/20654-autism-belief-god.html

8. Byproduct to Benefit
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Additional Vocals and Guitars by Tom Van Deursen

Further Reading:
genealogyreligion.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Adaptationist-Byproduct-Debate-Sosis.pdf

9. Spread It
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Co-produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds

Further reading:
1. robboyd.abcs.asu.edu/HenrichBoydRichersonHumNat08.pdf
2. www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(09)00024-5/fulltext

10. Virus of the Mind
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Guitars by Tom Van Deursen

Further Reading (Pro):
www.inf.fu-berlin.de/lehre/pmo/eng/Dawkins-MindViruses.pdf
Further Reading (Con): www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/16/why-no-longer-believe-religion-virus-mind

11. Andrew Murray
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall

Further Reading (Science):
blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/gods-little-rabbits-religious-people-out-reproduce-secular-ones-by-a-landslide/

Further Reading (Andrew Murray): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Murray_(minister)

12. Fertility Gods
(D. Brinkman, D. Moross)
Produced by Soulful Spider
Violin by Todd Reynolds
Mixed by Lin Gardiner

Further reading:
denisdutton.com/baumeister.htm

13. Big Gods
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall

Further Reading:
1. www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6251/918.full
2. press.princeton.edu/titles/10063.html

14. Neighborhood Atheism (Feat. Greydon Square)
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds, G. Square)
Produced and Mixed by Mr. Simmonds
Additional Keys by Simon Kendall
Guest verse by Greydon Square

Further reading:
www.scientificamerican.com/article/in-atheists-we-distrust/

15. Imagine
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Piano and Organ by Simon Kendall
String Arrangement by Simon Kendall
Cello by Peggy Lee
Violin by Mark Ferris

Further reading:
www.naturalism.org/spirituality

Strings and additional keyboards on all songs except 12 recorded by Simon Kendall at Hammond Ave Studios.

Album Mastered by Mr. Simmonds

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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Canadian hip-hop with an intellectual bent, nothing but sexy beats and sumptuous brain food.

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