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The “Father of English Literature” Geoffrey Chaucer Gets A Hip-Hop Makeover At UNC

Hip-Hop worked wonders for Alexander Hamilton, the subject of the critically acclaimed Broadway play that opened in August of 2015 and has earned over $57 million dollars.

Can the same winning formula for “Lit-Hop” be applied to British author Geoffrey Chaucer?

 Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
An image from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

It looks like it is being done successfully, thanks to a recent performance by Baba Brinkman, who tackled Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” and “Beowulf” in lyrical form during “The Canterbury Tales Remixed.”

“The things that transfix us and we’re passionate about today are still relevant and resonate with what was of interest to people 600 years ago,” Baba Brinkman told The Daily Tar Heel.

As for Baba Brinkman, he was performing “The Canterbury Tales Remixed” long before the record smashing success of “Hamilton” this year.

In fact, Phil Lankford of UNC’s English department first saw Brinkman performing way back in 2005. During those ten years, Brinkman won a Scotsman Fringe First Award, delivered several TedX performances and hit the stage at Stern School of Business at NYU to present “The Rap Guide to Evolution.”

As Brinkman was winning awards, Phil Lankford spent two years raising funds for the recent performance at UNC. Lankford’s hard work recently came to fruition at Chapel Hill.

Thanks to funding from Lankford, literature professor Ted Leinbaugh and the UNC Carolina Scholars Program, students were able to enjoy Baba Brinkman’s Hip-Hop rendition of Chaucer for free.

“I think Chaucer tapped into something deep about people’s natural wants and needs, and rappers have that same talent and show that connection,” Brinkman said.


 

COLLEGEHIPHOP Writer
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