A man called “Rhino”

Noah Goodbaum known as the mighty rhino performs at the Northern Power Summit

Photo courtesy of Noah Goodbaum, also known as The Mighty Rhino

F.S: Noah Goodbaum, is an inspiration to the local rap scene because he’s made some major strides as a rapper born with cerebral palsy.

 Noah Goodbaum, also known as The Mighty Rhino, isn’t your conventional rapper.

 A 32-year-old self-described ‘obese’ white rapper, who became a permanent fixture through a monthly Toronto hip hop event called “Hip Hop Karaoke.” Goodbaum is a quirky, eccentric who often wears a fedora and suit combination like a 1920s mobster.

An early performance by The Mighty Rhino at Hip Hop Karaoke:

Born with cerebral palsy, he overcame great odds to be something of a local celebrity on the local indie rap circuit. From somewhat of a novelty act, he now tours with some of the most prominent independent hip hop acts and was previously signed to all-star indie rap label Hand’Solo Records.

He raps about his cerebral palsy and mental disabilities on “Little Ol Me,” a personal account of his myriad of issues. The song has Goodbaum reveal that he suffers from Executive Function Disorder. The neurological condition has him struggle with organizing, planning, and time management.

“I usually have a care worker who helps me with tasks,” says Goodbaum.

Goodbaum has managed to transcend a lot of his problems. He says he struggles with depression, but his music is largely positive. Literally calling his previous full-length project, A Joy Which Nothing Can Erase, the songs thematically are a blend of what seem like Christian rap and nerd rap. Goodbaum says he follows the Bahá’í Faith.

His brand of hip hop may sound niche but he has become well recognized in the local indie rap circuit. Goodbaum made the !Earshot chart top 20 back in February for hip hop acts that play on community and campus radio stations across Canada.

Goodbaum was first drawn into hip hop as a way to bond with his older brother who grew up during the golden age of hip hop. He describes first being influenced by old-school rap group, Jurassic 5.

“When I first heard Chali 2na’s verse on ‘What’s Golden’ off their Power in Numbers album, I knew I had to do that,” says Goodbaum.

Goodbaum recounts the joy he had when he was able to connect with his brother after the death of his mother. He went to Quebec to visit his brother who lived in Montreal to attend Concordia University. His brother being several years older, taught the younger Goodbaum the ins and outs of 90s hip hop.

The experience helped the two brothers bond.

“We would dance to rap music,” says Goodbaum.

When asked how cerebral palsy has affected his rap career, Goodbaum thinks it has affected an aspect of his live show minimally. Goodbaum’s stage show is energetic but isn’t as physical as he would want. You won’t see any stage diving at a Mighty Rhino show.

Instead, Goodbaum is more of a troubadour. His focus on stories about love and acceptance. He is most proud of his song, “Company Policy,” a song about falling in love and letting go. His cadence resembles Slug from Atmosphere and even incorporates crooning into raps.

While Goodbaum may not be one’s first thought of what a rapper is, he certainly performs with great skill. He moves around on stage with a limp from his minor cerebral palsy, but he still has great confidence.

Acceptance from the Toronto rap community came slowly. Goodbaum gradually grew an audience through his hip hop karaoke appearances. Over the years, his following has grown and stuck around. It took seven years for Goodbaum to release his sophomore album. Relentless, like a rhino, he charges on. 

Goodbaum reassures his audience that dark times will pass. He knows through personal experience. He mentions God quite a bit in his music. It would seem that for Goodbaum that music is a spiritual connection. A way to transcend.

Brian Capitao
Written by
Brian Capitao

Brian Capitao is a feature writer with a penchant for writing about countercultural movements. His work has appeared in The Plaid Zebra, NOW magazine, Panoram Italia, and OntheA.Side. He currently attends Sheridan College as part of the New Media Journalism program.

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