Science + Hip Hop = The Genius

It was infinitely hot, so extremely bright…

In my eternal quest to discover new ways to make science engaging through innovative storytelling, I came across an interesting project that’s running through ten New York City high schools this year. It has students writing rap riffs to     talk about science, which might sound incongruous at first, but actually makes terrific sense. Actually, it is one of those things that you wish someone thought of sooner.

The pilot project is called Science Genius and it’s the brain child of bow-tie wearing Columbia professor Christopher Emdin. And while yes, it does have the kind of lame name that induces such teen eye-rolling as to issue concerns of retinal damage, (don’t get too turned off by the cheesy faux-graffiti logo,) some lucky students in the Bronx got any potential smack-talking handily silenced when who should walk through the door but freakin’ GZA.  It’s no coincidence this Wu-Tang clansmen’s other name is The Genius.

Watch him discuss the importance of scientific inquiry and inspired lyricism, and soon enough the kids are rhyming about natural selection, mutation, and adaptation–all relevant subjects in any environment, wild or wildly urban. Bunny Colvin is out there somewhere slapping his knee.


GZA’s solo album Liquid Swords is one of my all-time favorite albums. Ever. It is, well, genius. And not just because it samples Shogun Assassin, although yeah, that is pretty sweet. His mysterious forthcoming album called Dark Matter is apparently inspired by the Big Bang (“fastest growing infant since the time of birth”) and other universal magic. Awesome.

And if that wasn’t enough to win you over, watch him rap about Fallopian tubes and the periodic table and star-dust in this interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is himself, the dope show. It’s an interesting discussion between two very intelligent, poetic, and influential men about how art can make science better, and science can make art better, and how Novas aren’t just shitty cars. How we must continue learning both about the universe, and ourselves.

Wu-Tang and wavelengths forever!


… expanding, beyond comprehension, within a fraction of a second, a new dimension. At a marble size, very unstable, in time it would come with a periodic table…

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