How superheroes and hip-hop go hand-in-hand
There are two forces at work in pop culture right now, two seemingly polar opposite sides pushing the envelope of their respective medium. While on the surface they don’t seem to mix, it is undeniable that hip-hop and comic books go together hand-in hand.
From the early days of Superman’s appearance in Action Comics #1 back in 1938, comics conveyed messages that were meant to challenge and change the reader. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, sons of Jewish immigrants, created a hero that fought for the downtrodden and the overlooked. Before the United States entered WWII, Siegel and Shuster were having Superman fight Nazis and defending people like them.
Heroes and villains from various publishing companies started to appear along aside the big blue boy scout. As the decades past, the cast of characters like Doctor Doom, Luke Cage, Batman and Wonder Woman filled pages to the brim with action and tales to astonish.
Comic books have had highs and lows like any form of media, gaining followers and readers, with a cheap price point. Yet, before breaking out into the big screen in a meaningful way, comics were already influencing the hip-hop scene.
In 1979, The Sugarhill Gang exploded onto the scene with “Rapper’s Delight,” and brought rap to the masses, and with it, the first of the comic book references. The Gang raps against Superman for the chance to date Lois Lane.
Just like that, the fire was lit. As the years progressed, artist blurred the lines even taking on personas, writing their own comics and starring in TV shows and films of their favorite heroes.
Now, we have MF Doom taking on the mask and name of his favorite Fantastic Four villain and Eminem dressing up like Robin, to the integration of comic book artists to create iconic album covers for the likes of Public Enemy hip-hop and comics share a voice.
Your favorite rapper is a nerd in the best possible way. The obsession with pop culture lead to the marriage of two different mediums of art colliding into a form of self-expression that is hardly seen.
It’s why Luke Cage listening to “Bring Da Rukus” by the Wu-Tang Clan while fighting drug dealers feels right. Why Run the Jewels used the popularity their song received from being featured in the initial trailer for Marvel’s Black Panther to create a music video talking about the prison system.
Through the struggles and triumphs from decades of practice, both have been able to capture and amplify the voices of those that feel like they need to be heard. A empowerment that can only be created by the tightest of tights and a good bass line.