What Is This?
Event Rap is like no other form of entertainment, synthesizing the themes and people involved in any event or meeting into original rap songs and videos premiered exclusively for your audience, a surprising and unforgettable addition to any gathering. Event Rap is an example of occasional verse, an ancient tradition found in many cultures around the world, adapted into hip-hop form.
Rap Music as a Service Industry
We are re-imagining rap music as a customizable service, delivered by charismatic and experienced live performers ready to apply their talent to your topic. We work with you to learn about your event and your specific needs, tailoring a combination of live sets and custom content to thrill your attendees and make your event stand out.
The various Services offered by Event Rap are designed to work either as a single stand-alone set, or as a sequence of sets over the course of a day, or several days, that build to a grand conclusion.
A Custom Rap is composed in advance, written and recorded in consultation with you to capture your key message, and premiered at the event either in the form of a fully-produced music video that can be streamed and shared virally, or in the form of an exclusive live performance (or both).
A Freestyle Set or Catalogue Set delivers live interactive performances of improvised or pre-written rap that fits the themes of your event. The freestyles respond to visual prompts from your audience in real-time, electrifying and interactive, and the catalogue sets consist of published music previously released by our artists on a diverse range of topics (and a Freestyle Track is a hybrid of the two).
Event Emcee hosting puts the Artist in the driver’s seat of the whole event, or of a specific happy hour or variety show that you schedule for them, allowing for a combination of every other set type.
And the infamous Rap Up ties it all together, commenting on the unique dynamics of your event and referencing the speakers and themes in a way that makes everything feel instantly legendary, resulting in a sharable video that captures the spirit of your event.
Tell Your Story
Our content design process is customer-centric, based on a dialogue that helps us learn about your needs and your message, and we are all about trying new things! Not sure which artist or which service on our site best fits your needs? Contact us for fresh ideas and we’ll work with you to get the outcomes you envision.
Custom Rap On Tap
The craft of hip-hop endows experienced artists with the ability to write a song or freestyle about any topic, and do so in as much or as little time as the event allows. Every event needs rap!
On the corporate side, does your company have a mission, vision, and value set that you want to amplify? Do you have a value proposition you want your customers to understand better? Are you hosting a Sales Kickoff or Customer Connect event that needs an uplift? Or a holiday party or celebration that you’re worried will drag? Every event needs rap!
We work with academics and non-profits too, a lot. What’s the core idea that everyone should know? What’s the signal that needs to be amplified? What’s the heart of your story? We make “peer reviewed rap” that takes facts and research and good arguments and makes them accessible and fun. Every event needs rap.
Event Rap Artists
Artists featured on Event Rap have been vetted for their hip-hop skills beyond Event Rap. They rock crowds with live freestyle rhymes, have extensive experience on stage, write songs that communicate challenging concepts and ideas, and release music videos on YouTube and albums on Spotify and Apple Music and all the other streaming platforms that only earn pennies for the artists unless you’re Drake or Lil Baby.
Most of all, Artists on Event Rap can prove their ability to deliver two or more of the Services, with video evidence. Event Rap Artists are wild versatile.
The Rap Middle Class
Unlike many industries, rap has virtually no middle class. Most rappers have day jobs and dreams but virtually no income from rap, especially in the time of COVID-19, and only a very tiny fraction manage to tip over into fame and riches. But why does it have to be all or nothing? Vast inequality between the successful and the unsuccessful is the hallmark of a rigged game. What rap needs is more levels of intermediate success, and unlike art forms that require huge production budgets to practice, such as acting or filmmaking, rap is ideally poised to deliver.
Event Rap is a platform for creating and sustaining a rap middle class, by helping artists envision new kinds of gigs beyond the same old clubs and concert venues their peers are all vying for, and by helping event organizers of all kinds appreciate the beauty and universality of rap as an art form that can address any topic and entertain any audience.
Beyond the actual performances we deliver and content we create, the main value proposition offered by Event Rap is ideation. If a rapper has a narrow set of ideas about where they can perform and what they can speak on, their gig schedule will be similarly narrow (unless they are sufficiently famous, in which case congratulations).
And if event organizers only hire mimes and jugglers and magicians and dancers but not rappers, the market for rap will remain anemic and winner-take-all. Event Rap Artists continue to pursue their same mainstream music careers as ever, while at the same time expanding the pie with a side hustle that puts their hard-earned skills and creativity to good use.
Is This Real Rap?
The skill and creativity and technique that goes into making great rap records and putting on great concerts are identical to the skills required to deliver great Event Rap. The only difference is the broader variety of venues and events you perform for, the wider range of topics you cover, and the custom-creation of tailored content for paying clients, rather than writing about whatever you feel like. You can still say what you feel, and rap how you rap, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Event Rap just empowers Artists to write about a specific topic, and perform for a specific audience, in accordance with the client’s needs.
Rap artists who don’t yet have a public profile, a years-long track record, and a catalogue of high quality music and video releases, are not a good fit for Event Rap. And rap artists who are sufficiently rich and famous will be unlikely to see much upside in broadening their repertoire. If you’re just starting out, then build your skills. And if you have millions of followers, then we applaud your success. But if you’re an artist somewhere in the middle, you might want to join the Event Rap family.
Don’t change your voice, your artistry, your perspective, or your brand. You are who your are. Just change your versatility and openness to new topics and new audiences.
If you’re a rapper with a track record who wants to start earning more from gigs and custom songwriting, contact us to apply for a profile. Please include links to your website and socials, and links to several high quality videos of you performing at least two of the Services. Once you have an Artist Profile, you can start sharing it with your network. Tell everyone you know that you will potentially rap at any event, about any topic, subject to the schedule and budget being a good fit.
We can help you get those gigs.
The various Services offered here were developed and perfected by the company founder and president, rap artist Baba Brinkman. Baba began his rap career in 1998, freestyling and writing songs in his hometown of Vancouver, Canada. In 2000 he started adapting Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales into original rap compositions, and in 2004 he premiered a one man show based on his Master’s thesis, The Rap Canterbury Tales, to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Over the years, Baba went on create award-winning solo rap theatre shows about evolution, consciousness, religion, and climate change, returning to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival ten times and playing in rep off-Broadway.
Before launching his rap career, Baba was a student of comparative literature and oral poetry traditions, and also a tree planter in Western Canada, personally planting more than one million trees over the course of fifteen years. Fancying himself a “rap troubadour”, Baba would write lyrics for any occasion, and perform anywhere he could find a captive audience, family gatherings, birthdays, anniversaries, talent shows, and company meetings (reforestation was the family business, so they had to listen).
While on tour with his various solo hip-hop shows over the years, Baba would often volunteer to write and perform original raps for conferences and festivals he was attending. To Baba, these on-the-spot writing challenges were analogous to the role of the troubadour or bard in medieval Europe, or the griot in West Africa, the poet trickster who lampoons the powerful and entertains the people with spontaneous verse.
The oldest video of these early performances is from the 2007 Brisbane Writer’s Festival. Baba was attending the festival to perform The Rap Canterbury Tales and the organizers asked if he would write a rap to thank the festival sponsors, all 80 of them.
One of Baba’s most popular tricks was a Rap Up, a unique exercise in rapid creativity. A Rap Up is composed on the fly, during the course of an event, and performed at the event’s conclusion to sum it up. Since a Rap Up has to respond to and comment on the details of the event as it unfolds, none of it can be pre-written or it will lack specificity. This makes it the ultimate Event Rap: a performance on the occasion, at the occasion, and about the occasion.
The excitement of a Rap Up comes from the high stakes, since there is no time for rehearsal or revision, and from the “how did you come up with that so quick?!” astonishment of the audience. The performance time is pre-set, so the challenge is to distill as much of the event as possible into the lyrics, writing and listening at the same time, and have it ready to perform at showtime, one way or another. Written rhymes don’t get any fresher.
Baba would often volunteer to compose and perform a Rap Up at any event he was attending, for whatever reason. One of the earliest recorded was at the Minerva Foundation’s “Science of Play” Conference in 2013, although anecdotally Baba has been performing Rap Up sets since the early 2000s.
Peer Reviewed Rap
With his growing collection of science-themed rap albums and shows, organizations started approaching Baba about producing new Custom Raps on a wider and wider range of topics. Some these projects were premiered at conferences or other events, while others were produced as stand-alone songs and music videos, released via digital music stores and YouTube to popularize challenging ideas.
A Custom Rap is designed to communicate a set of themes and messages, whether an academic topic or political argument or a set of research findings. The concept of “Peer Reviewed Rap” was coined by evolutionary biologist Mark Pallen (who commission The Rap Guide to Evolution) and captures the collaborative nature of these songs and videos, which are usually produced in consultation with an expert in the field to make sure the facts are correct and the message is clear, through a process of iterated creation: performance, feedback, revision.
Mainstream Event Rap
The concept of a “Rap Up” was conceived and popularized by Virginia rapper Mad Skillz, who has produced an annual Rap Up summary of each year since 2002, a tradition since adopted by other rappers. In a twist on the classic format, our Rap Up service involves rapidly composing the lyrics in real time over the course of a few hours while the event simultaneously unfolds, and performing while the experiences are still brand new in the audience’s memory, similar to the effect of a freestyle. The only mainstream example of such a real time Rap Up we can find is Neil Patrick Harris’ closing rap at the 2011 Tony Awards, written backstage during the show by Lin Manuel Miranda.
In a sense, all freestyle rap is a form of Event Rap, since a freestyle comments on its surroundings and circumstances in a way that written rhymes rarely do. The hit Broadway show Freestyle Love Supreme and several successful YouTube comedy rap acts have recently helped to take freestyle rap mainstream.
In 2011, LL Cool J gave an acceptance speech at the BET Awards for winning the “I Am Hip Hop Award”, a speech that was all in rhyme, written on his phone on the way to the event. That’s an Event Rap, a classic example of occasional verse.
In 2015, the Wu Tang Clan sold their album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin at auction, having produced only a single copy of the record in a process “inspired by musical patronage in the renaissance”. Similarly, several of the services offered here are offered exclusively to clients, especially if they cover proprietary information or reference discussions governed by the Chatham House Rule. Many Event Rap performance videos end up being circulated internally among the client’s employees with no public release.
In 2020, Freestyle Love Supreme’s Utkarsh Ambudkar performed at the Oscars, delivering a partially-improvised and partially-scripted set, also known as a Freestyle Track, that left the audience laughing out loud while also wondering “how did he come up with that so fast?!” – a perfect Event Rap.
Know of any other examples of Event Rap in the mainstream? Please contact us and share them!
Virtual Event Rap
Beginning around 2015, event organizers started booking Baba Brinkman to do Rap Up and Custom Rap performances as stand-alone sets, recognizing them as a unique form of tailored entertainment experience that captures the spirit of a conference or meeting like nothing else can. From 2015-2019 he travelled the world to write and perform exclusive Rap Up sets at private events in Iceland, Austria, Monaco, Jerusalem, Germany, France, the US and Canada.
Then, in 2020, after performing at live in-person events internationally for more than fifteen years, Baba pivoted during the pandemic to become a “Zoom Rapper”, performing for virtual meetings and galas and conferences during the pandemic. Over the course of 2020, Baba also developed the Event Rap platform, formalizing the various types of sets he spent years perfecting, and empowering other artists to offer the same set of services.
What started as a quirky side gig that Baba would sometimes offer when performing his science and literature-themed solo rap shows, has become the main event.
Every event needs rap.