Is Rap Literature?

Is Rap Literature?

With Bob Dylan winning the Nobel prize for literature in 2017, it is finally official that song lyrics are literature. Well, not all of course, but still. What can be said for a song text in general, is even more true with rap music. Our artist of the week, Baba Brinkman, is proof in several ways.

Literature Rap

In 2004, Baba gained widespread attention for the first time for his one-man show The Rap Canterbury Tales. With it, he was re-telling Chaucer’s iconic stories for a modern audience. The show premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. And the following year Baba was sponsored by Cambridge University to perform the act in British secondary schools. The Rap Canterbury Tales was released as an album and also published as an illustrated paperback by Talon Books in 2006.


In the following years, Baba continued with his literature adoptions. In 2010 he combined adaptations of Beowulf, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Finnish Kalevala to his new Hip-Hop show Rapconteur.


One year later, the show The Rap Canterbury Tales Remixed premiered in New York, adding even more adaptations to his program.


Because of his interest in merging hip-hop and classic literature, Brinkman has referred to his style of rap as LIterature Rap, or LIt Hop, which was also the title of his 2006 solo rap album.

Express Yourself

On a more general level, literature and rap have more in common than there are differences. Both are verbal expressions of opinions and a way of life. Gangsta Rap may be the most extreme example to this.

Baba does not hold back with his opinion as well. In his Literature and Science Rap shows, he always takes a clear social position. Also, as already explained in an earlier blog post, the climate change is something that is very dear to his heart.

And what is your opinion to the matter?


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