Back to What's new


May 31, 2023

Blog by

Catrin Bates

Photo by

Baba Brinkman

Retrofit Rap

Recently, we were delighted to discover New York based rapper and science communicator, Baba Brinkman, after he mentioned Energiesprong in his video about retrofit called “Insulate it”.

The rap aimed to: ‘break down the science and the rationally compelling but unsexy appeal of retrofit insulation as a key factor in emission reductions to combat climate change’. (Can you see why we loved it?!).

Baba founded a company called Event Rap which specialises in creating custom rap videos for public engagement to help communicate important topics.

We were keen to find out more about Baba, his company, and the story behind the creation of the “Insulate it” rap, so we got in touch to ask him a few questions….


How did the “Insulate it” rap and video come about?

In the Spring of 2021, I joined a programme at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) called Inside the Greenhouse which brings together arts practitioners and comedians and earth science students to help make the story of climate change accessible and culturally salient through the arts. 

My friend Chuck Nice was helping to lead the programme and he selected the comedians and invited me as the one rapper since I have a bunch of material about climate change and performed a show about it off-Broadway from 2016-2019 that he really liked.

I was assigned retrofit insulation as my topic and asked to create five minutes of original material which I would premiere at an event for CU Boulder students and then perform at the New York Comedy Club as part of a show hosted by Chuck, Ice Cold Comedy.

So “Insulate It” was written and performed live twice last Spring and was generally a big hit with the audiences who saw it, but at that point it was just a song on paper, so after the programme finished, one of the directors Max Boykoff submitted a funding application to the City of Boulder and Boulder County and received a climate outreach grant to cover the cost of producing and recording the song, and producing and filming the video, so we could share the song and its message with the world.

And that’s the story!

Baba at the PRE-COP climate conference in Kinshasa last year

Can you tell us more about what got your attention when you were doing your research, and why?

This project was somewhat different in that I had a group of CU Boulder students as research assistants. The students helped me to research the topic (which I didn’t know much about), and suggested sources and I added my own research. The “unsexy” angle came from this article. And I came across various programmes and organisations including Energiesprong in my online research and referenced the ones I felt were taking the right approach. 

My guiding principles were quantification of impact, economic viability, and an awareness of the political and PR challenges around getting sufficient momentum going. The words “mundane” and “unsexy” were common in my research, which is where I see the rap playing a role, and also a source of a lot of my comedic tone in the song.

What do you feel were the most important messages to get across in your rap?

The most important explicit message is that climate change is an urgent crisis on multiple fronts, and in many cases heavy sacrifices will be needed, but retrofit insulation is not one of those cases!  

Whenever we can find solutions that are win-win for economics, health, and environment, those are the ones we should lean into first, and celebrate the short-term gains we can get by reducing energy waste and cost and increasing domestic comfort, while keeping the atmospheric ppm in mind as well.

That’s the policy case I’m trying to get across, but there is also an important implicit message, which has more to do with the tone. I really enjoyed this project because it signals a different way of talking about climate change, one infused with humour and swagger and confidence rather than morbidity. 

This tone is very tricky to get right, but very important since the psychology of shame and guilt naturally repels people from thinking and acting on climate and creates paralysis and disengagement. 

As Richard McWilliams said in his post sharing my video: “Who says the transition to a sustainable, low carbon future can’t generate a bit of fun along the way?"

What were your reasons behind starting Event Rap to provide mission-driven rap material?

I started Event Rap because my own music catalogue and career has been fuelled for almost fifteen years now by a somewhat unusual business model and I wanted to try to replicate it with other artists and create an alternative path for them to be creative and productive, with more purposeful and interesting topics explored in each project.

Partially I feel this is important because I dislike the homogeneity of topics in mainstream music, but to change the output you have to address the underlying structure of how the work is made, and the financial incentives artists are responding to.

I found my way into this niche organically by connecting with scientists and other mission-driven individuals and organisations who asked me (and paid me) to rap about their topics, which suggested a scalable business model.

Instead of making songs based entirely on my own opinions and feelings, each project starts with a partnership and a budget and topic of interest and research phase. My niche as an artist is mostly working with scientists, but this model can be applied to any topic of interest with a budget behind it, as long as an artist resonates with the topic and agrees to take it on. 

The structure of this working relationship is more similar to the Renaissance patronage model than to the modern fan-pleasing music industry, and based on my new song and others we’ve made, it’s working. 

You can read/listen to a more poetic exposition of the Event Rap model in my new song Rapsode here.

Thank you Baba for taking the time to speak to us. We love what you do and appreciate you communicating the benefits of retrofit to the masses in such an engaging way. It’s great to meet someone else on a mission to #MakeRetrofitSexy!

Find out more about Baba Brinkman and Event Rap via the links below:


Home - Baba Brinkman

Event Rap | Home


Baba Brinkman - YouTube

Event Rap - YouTube


Baba Brinkman (@bababrinkman) • Instagram photos and videos

Event Rap by Baba Brinkman (@eventrapinc) • Instagram photos and videos


Baba Brinkman | Facebook

Event Rap | Facebook