Social Contract

You think I haven’t gone through any hardships
‘Cause I was raised in communes instead of projects?
That’s why I’ve always had problems with the opposite sex
‘Cause I was taught never to treat women as objects
And never to treat anything simple as complex
And vice versa, but I can’t remember what I was taught next
See, that’s the problem with hippie kids
They stop listenin’ when you teach ‘em not to listen to hypocrites
But most of us still can’t appreciate the differences
Between civil disobedience and criminal deviance
It’s the difference between fixin’ a system and pimpin’ it
‘Cause corruption ain’t the same as honest work
I try to separate the pigs from police officers
And I can see nuances, ‘cause I was raised by philosophers
But nuance isn’t popular, and neither am I
My whole life I’ve been tryin’ to read between the lines
And I’ve never been penalized for speakin’ my mind
So freedom is mine; I’m a scorpion
And a libra combined, with a fist and a peace sign
On either side, and I’m just tryin’ to equalize

They say “fight the system we need to be free”
When there’s demons increasing at either extreme
It keeps feeding all the greediest schemes
That I can see
They say “fight the system we need to be free”
Like a greasy streams spillin’ into the sea
They keep feeding me a hedonist dream
That I can’t see

Sometimes freedom is violent; it gets derailed
The system fails whenever freedom tips the scales
When a sadistic freak is freed from a prison cell
Or a big business victimizes people with its sales
Some say we need chaos, but when a government falls
Another one pops up; it’s like juggling rubber balls
We don’t need more freedom; we need tougher laws
Electricity should be double the cost
With subsidies involved for those with no money
It’s gonna be pretty hard to keep this show running
If nobody believes there’s any room for change
We need fewer cars and more commuter trains
And new laws to make sure polluters pay
For what they do to our food chains; these are the changes
Institutions can make, if we just use our brains
Instead of TVs and computer games

They say “fight the system we need to be free”
When there’s demons increasing at either extreme
It keeps feeding all the greediest schemes
That I can see
They say fight the system we need to be free
Like a greasy streams spilling into the sea
They keep feeding me a hedonist dream
That I can’t see

See, I’m all about change, but I’m not about the counter-culture
Standin’ around with just a frown and a stomach ulcer
Makin’ the occasional ethical purchase
While dismissin’ politics as nothin’ but a nest of serpents
As soon as you’re done talkin’, try runnin’ for office
Try becoming part of something positive
There’s really nothing stopping us; it’s just a problem of optics
In the absence of reason; there’s no illusion of freedom
The illusion is a lack of freedom, and we’re losin’ to these illusions
But we can’t join ‘em; we have to beat ‘em
And just because I’m gettin’ disillusioned with libertarians
Doesn’t make me a disciplinarian
We need different solutions for different areas
From over-fishing the oceans to carbon emission tariffs
From the Arab militiamen to the American Michigan Aryans
We need some significant barriers
This may sound ridiculous from a kid with hippie parents
But sometimes it’s just hilarious how addicted we are
To the idea that we should never be restricted at all
But if freedom means drivin’ an SUV
And never havin’ to clean up the mess you leave
Then I say we need to be less free
I don’t expect you to agree, but you did listen at least
So now you’re free to take this lesson or leave it
— Baba Brinkman: Social Contract

Proponents of mainstream hip/hop may have never heard of the “the only hip-hop show to ever be peer reviewed,” as I have heard it said, let alone understand the ideas being throw at its audience so swiftly those with the proper background can hardly grasp.  The man behind this show goes by the name Baba Brinkman.  With a Masters degree in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, Brinkman’s thesis “drew parallels between the worlds of hip-hop, music and literary poetry.”  Should he be discounted for being born in Canada to a mother, a member of parliament, and a tree planting father, or placed on a pedestal for being able to string together coherent, thought provoking lyrics counter to stars popular and familiar to most?

My guess is neither.  While being accused of offering overly provoking, almost offending, systematic breakdowns of topics like evolution, Baba Brinkman coupled his extensive knowledge on the subject and love for music and created a market to be able to practice what he enjoys most.  He broke free.

For me, the most important aspect of Baba's approach was illustrated in a recent blog post on his website titled, Insult To Injury.  In it he talks about critics questioning his ability to physically plant over one million tress.  Baba Brinkman remarks, "In general I’m in favor of skepticism, but only the well-informed, intellectually curious kind, not the knee-jerk “it doesn’t sound intuitively realistic so I’ll disbelieve it without bothering to check” kind."  Adding to the idea of positive skepticism he continues later in the post, "When our views are self-correcting and open to revision based on new evidence, they will continue to hone in on increasingly accurate representations of the real world. That’s good honest skepticism, and when it wins over bad, knee-jerk, “it’s hard to imagine” skepticism, that’s a beautiful thing."

When you live with closed eyes the betterment of the self is limited.  It is not able to seek and absorb new information that will progress the multitude of ideas which make up the world.  Living with closed eyes opens the individual only to becoming more blinded by its one sided opinion- we are not capable of "performance, feedback, revision."  Your opinion should be expressed, but it is not Gospel.  Be willing to challenge your self-centeredness to truly listen to what others are saying.  After all, absorb what is useful, discard what is not- just do it with realistic skepticism.

Author's Note:  A simple internet search will yield plenty of information to keep the curious Baba Brinkman newbie busy.  However, to be transported through the interweb portal quicker, check out his Ted talks HERE and HERE , or visit his website,  If you would like to explore his music, do so at his Bandcamp page.  It is my favorite place to discover new, independent musicians and the platform allows you to listen to full albums, for free.