E EQUALLED MC!
Albert Einstein was a genius. Everyone agrees. He helped us rethink the fabric of our universe and also served as a fierce advocate for humanism.
But did you know that he was also among the first hip-hop artists?
A letter written by Einstein and recently discovered in an archive at the College of South Lausanne has suggested that late in his life, the great physicist chose not to rest on his scientific or ethical laurels but to explore what the letter called “the energetic cadence of rhyming words placed in propinquity.”
“I was flabbergasted,” said Jennifer T. Neuberg, a researcher at the College. “This is a letter about a vacation he took, filled with many boring pastoral details: this sheep had a thick coat, this meadow was especially green. Blather, really.”
Neuberg took a sip of water.
“But then in the middle, there’s this one passage where he talks about this energetic cadence, and then right after that, he writes, ‘Milk from a cow / Silk from a sow / A fencepost on fire / Dense, close attire / Farmland / Armband / Feeling such elation / At solar excitation.’ It’s utter nonsense on one level, but one another level, it’s Einstein flowing.”
Neuberg immediately contacted other universities with stray Einstein papers and discovered more evidence to support her theory. A British college sent a draft of a paper in which Einstein had, in the margins, scribbled a list of words that rhymed with “motor.”
“I’ll read them to you,” said Neuberg, taking another sip of water before she did. “Voter…boater…floater…rotor.”
Perhaps most interestingly, an Indian lab that Einstein visited in the 1930s sent Neuberg a scrap of paper that included a doodle of a propellor beanie and what Neuberg described as “an early diss track” about Einstein’s rivals (“His thinking is poor / Bad on the dance floor / That fool, Niels Bohr”)
After reading the diss track, Neuberg took yet another sip of water.
At that point, this reporter exploded. “Why can’t you just drink the whole glass and leave it at that? It seems like a nervous habit. It doesn’t even seem like you care about the water.” The outburst was followed by contrition. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I once had a girlfriend who did the same thing, and I thought it was so charming, a kind of magical spell even, but then we had a bad breakup. Cheating was involved, let’s just say, and not on my part. So that tiny innocuous gesture, well, it gets to me. But it’s no excuse for unprofessionalism. Again, so sorry.”
This reporter spent the remainder of the afternoon sitting in a room with Neuberg, reading Einstein’s lyrics in strained silence, occasionally admiring the wordplay of the more substantive verses (“The universe bends / But it never ends / Light’s top velocity / Has a certain ferocity”), mostly just thinking about his ex-girlfriend Rose.