|By: Andrew Barnett
Auburn University at Montgomery
Department of Communication & Dramatic Arts
Marvel Comics recently announced it would pay homage to some Hip-Hop artists by designing covers inspired by albums as part of their variant series.
Kendrick Lamar’s artwork for To Pimp a Butterfly was used for Marco Rudy’s “Guardians of Infinity #1” cover, while Kool Keith’s Black Elvis Lost in Space album was the basis for Mike Choi’s “Venom: Space Knight #1.”
Wu-Tang wordsmith Raekwon’s classic Only Built For Cuban Linx rounded out Marvel’s new batch, as the inspiration for Mahmud Asrar’s “The Totally Awesome Hulk #1.”
With Comic-Con going on around the world, it is a great time to talk about how comics relate to Hip-Hop. Although these are two completely different cultures, there are many connections between them.
Firstly, superheroes have “powers.” Well rappers have characteristics that make them stronger than others also.
You have super Lyricists like Nas, Andre 3000, Lupe Fiasco, and Black Thought, who use their words to baffle and capture the minds of listeners.
Then you have rappers such as Method Man and Biggie who use their impeccable Flow to ride a beat flawlessly to the end. Rappers like 2Pac and Lil Wayne have powerful Deliveries that have you hanging on to every word they say because of the way they say it.
And, there are guys like Cam’Ron, 50 Cent, and Kanye West, who just have an unbelievable amount of Charisma that gives them a “super” kind of aura.
The one characteristic of Hip-Hop that ties directly into comics is storytelling. Something that guys like Slick Rick and Ghostface Killah excel at.
It is no coincidence that one of the best storytellers in Hip-Hop goes by the alias of a comic book character. Ghostface Killah uses the alias ”Tony Starks” which is the name of a superhero, Ironman.
But, Ghostface is not the only rapper named after a comic. David Banner gets his name from the Incredible Hulk; Jean Grae gets hers from X-Men, and Big Pun got his from The Punisher. Slick Pulla sometimes refers to himself as “Young Bobby Drake,” which is the name of a comic book character, Iceman. Rapper MF Doom is not only named after the comic, Doctor Doom, but he also wears a mask similar to the one that the character has.
There are also rappers like Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, and Redman that are very animated. It is not just the way that they rap. All of their imagery, including videos, reflect that same animated style.
Some rappers have been featured in comic books over the years. Wu-Tang has their own comic and the influence can be seen, from album covers to nicknames and other things.
Hip-Hop and comics have a lot in common, maybe more than you would have thought. Whether it is in a comic, being named after one, or making comic-like album covers, the connection can not be ignored.
With many rappers being so into the comic book culture, we will surely see a few make some cameos at one of the Comic-Con conventions this year.