As a Hip Hop/Comic Book aficionado I’m telling you right now, whether you think I’m crazy or not, there is a direct correlation between the hip-hop musical genre and comic books. It may sound like a stretch, but there is a lot of similarities that I personally can’t help but notice. Now I’m a huge fan of both art forms and spend a lot of time pondering the inner workings of them, because I’m a loser like that, but that’s beside the point. The point is, there are undeniably a lot of similarities between the two, and I’m going to explain it to yo bitch ass:
4. The Stories
Hip-hop is based around stories and characters. Think of the best rap song/albums, and they’re all based on a certain story or a character. From The Message by Grandmaster Flash or the entire album Only Built For Cuban Linx by Raekwon, the imagery and story are the key components that make each album memorable and stick out in your mind. The story is a key ingredient to hook a person into a rap song, much like the story of a comic book. The better the actually story, the more attention the average person/reader will give it.
The first Wu Tang album is choc full of insane ass kicking imagery that could only be thought up by avid comic book readers, and that’s just what the Wu were back in the day. They watched old Kung-Fu flicks and read comic books and those images and ideas seeped into their minds and helped create one of the best hip-hop groups of all time.
Instead of the average “I have a lot of money and I am awesome” schtick that a lot of middle of the road rappers were peddling, the Wu came out with a more creative intent and built stories and created scenes in your mind to suck you into their story whilst they performed verbal Kung-Fu on your ass. Rappers like Nas would often cite that he was an avid comic book reader in his youth, and that helped him formulate various ideas that he used that to create his 1994 masterpiece Illmatic.
3. The Characters
Hell the rappers themselves are characters. They’re larger than life persona’s, living a life that the average person wouldn’t be able to live. Not unlike superheroes. Because, believe it or not, no matter how much a lot of rappers protest in their songs that they’re insane bad-asses with a penchant for murdering anyone who slights them and having run ins with the mafia, a lot of the time it’s just not true.
And I think for that reason a lot of people chose to overlook a lot of rap based on that fact alone. Personally I think that’s totally bogus, it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, it only matters if the song is entertaining enough to hold your attention. Whether or not it’s true matters about as much as whether or not there is a Nuclear Physicist that can turn into a massive green dude that smashes everything in sight (I’m looking at you Bruce Banner).
Let me stress that I’m not implying rap is riddled with lies, many grew up in ghettos and took part in drug dealing and crime. Even if they weren’t directly involved in it, they certainly witnessed it. And that alone has helped these artists create a character/story that they could put to music and capture the minds of people across the world. Then you take comic books, writers take things they see in every day life, embellish them and use them to form exciting new characters and stories. The father of modern comics Stan ‘The Man’ Lee took real life problems and transposed them into superhero characters, and also notably created a character of himself ‘The Man’ along with the rest of the Marvel Bullpen (Roy ‘The Boy’ Thomas, “Nefarious” Neal Adams, ”Our Pal” Sal Buscema and so on).
Rappers similarly take their real life dealings, create names for themselves and turn themselves and their stories into bad-ass rhymes with a beat.