Brow Beat

GZA Explains the Big Bang, in Rhyme

As the poet said, “sometimes you gotta flash ’em back, [show] where this started … take y’all back to the source.” Of course, GZA was talking about something very different when he and RZA delivered those lines on his classic hip-hop album Liquid Swords, but now he’s flashing back about 13.8 billion years, to the dawn of the universe.

GZA has previewed a short snippet of this song, which is expected to appear on his forthcoming album Dark Matter, before, but at a recent lecture at the University of Toronto, he delivered what appears to be the whole thing. While he takes poetic license with some of the hard science (“thought produced a speck of light,” he begins), most of the facts he spits seem to be right, as Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait tells me. (In fact, the most obvious errors are just little typos in the transcription.)

In a couple of quick minutes the Wu-Tang rapper manages to pack in quite a bit of dense, often abstract cosmology, all while making it exciting and easy to grasp. It’s fun to hear students cheer for astrophysics.