Diggin’ Through the Crates: Lupe Fiasco “Lightwork”

Artist: Lupe Fiasco

Song: “Lightwork”

AlbumFriend of the People: I Fight Evil (2011), a mixtape that followed up his third studio album (Lasers). Free download here.

Lyric: “They wanna be fiascoes, reproduce his failures/Emperor is his alias, but not Marcus Aurelius/This is more like Sparta: kick you down a well, kid”

Character Reference/Meaning:

With the release of 300: Rise of an Empire, we felt that this week’s “Diggin’ Through the Crates” had to be a reference to 300. Most casual fans might not know that before Gerard Butler was dining in hell, 300 was a mini-series run published by Dark Horse Comics in 1999 written by Frank Miller, the same creative genius behind Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. Not only does today mark the return of 300 to the theaters, but it also marks the return of Lupe Fiasco to “DTC.” A few months ago, Lupe made the pages of Hush for his Wolverine references. We try to switch up the artists as much as we can, but this was the best Spartan/300 reference out there – And believe me, there were plenty to choose from.

Just to catch some people up, the scene in 300 that Lupe is referencing is when a Persian messenger comes to relay a message to the King of Sparta, Leonidas. The message is this: we own you now; lay down your arms, kneel before us, and we won’t slaughter your men and enslave your children. It sounded like quite the raw deal, as Leonidas thought, and so he showed his hospitality by kicking the messenger down a giant well. Aside from being one crowd-pleasing moment, it’s also a sentiment that resonates within the Hip-Hop community.

In poor, urban communities like the ones Wasalu Jaco (Lupe) grew up in, there’s always somebody coming in to take what you and yours have. This might surprise you, but a lot of the time, that doesn’t always come in the shape of peers. The Athenians and Spartans frequently butt heads. They fought with each other for the dominance of Greece multiple times. When the Persian empire came to their doorstep, both were out-powered by the unstoppable force.

Today, gentrification and police abuse are the Xerxes and prison is the new slavery (oh yeah, I went there). Young black men are constantly antagonized by the police officers and ridiculed by white wealth. It’s no surprise that Hip-Hop artists gravitate towards being able to tell somebody to get the hell out of their home.

Fun Fact:

The line “They wanna be fiascoes, reproduce his failures” is a clever play on words, as the word “fiasco” is actually Greek for failure. Lupe also references Marcus Aurelius, a Greek philosopher that the Spartans saw as a personification for weakness. You can tell Lupe really does his homework.

So Far this Week… March 5, 2014

With the expansion of Hush Comics, we have decided to give bi-weekly news updates.  Anything we find news-worthy will be posted here bi-weekly.  Have anything to add?  Post it in the comments!

Those sneaky bastards at Rocksteady took a year off (Arkham Origins was developed by WB Montreal) so they could work on Batman: Arkham Knight, the finale to the Arkham trilogy. Coming out this year for next-gen consoles, my mind is exploding with excitement. I mean, just look at the trailer:

Norman Reedus, Daryl Dixon himself, will be joining Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show in just a few hours. I can’t wait to see what kind of shenanigans they pull tonight. Just a couple days ago, Fallon, The Roots and Idina Menzel did a back-stage performance of “Let it Go” from Frozen.

People got legitimately upset when Tony Hawk and Funny or Die duped everybody into thinking hover boards had finally arrived.

The Iron Throne meets the wheelz of steel! HBO has gathered a bunch of rappers to create their very own Game of Thrones mixtape. It should give us enough material for our “Diggin’ Through the Crates” article for months. It’s expected to drop on Friday.

It’s about to go down in Arrow. Ollie may be fancied a hero in Starling City, but he’s made plenty of enemies – namely Suicide Squad and Deathstroke.

It’s been quite some time since Michael Bay has blown some shit up. A full-length trailer of Transformers 4 has been released, and, sad to say, I don’t really care what it’s about; I just wanna see Optimus Prime pimp-slap a Dinobot.

More casting for DC television shows Constantine and Gotham, among them being Harold Perrineau Jr. (one of my favorites on HBO’s Oz), who will play an angel who looks over Constantine.

To promote their upcoming Original Sin event, Marvel will be supplying the retailers willing to put up the big bucks with eyeballs. Awesome…Your move, DC.

As Deadpool has been fighting with and against everything in the Marvel universe, it was only time until he took on one of the symbiotes. Deadpool vs. Carnage comes out within the month.

He might be a nice guy in real life, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is looking mean in the brand new teaser for Sin City 2.

LeBron James’ 61 point game inspired Marvel to post a drawing of him with a Captain America mask, probably to detract from the Batman comparisons made with the black one.

Lando was one smooth guy in Star Wars, but can Billie Dee Williams still pull off the moves when he joins the cast of Dancing With the Stars?

The Justice League is flying back onto the shelves of your local grocery stores. General Mills cereal boxes with contain comic books starring the DC team of all-stars throughout the month of March.

The conclusion of The Walking Dead: Governor novels is finally here. Released on Tuesday, Fall of the Governor: Part 2 completes a long-winded series of books. We loved the first book, but the rest of them have been so lackluster, we’re debating whether or not to finish it out.

Diggin’ Through the Crates: KRS-One “Nothing New”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: KRS-One

Song: “Nothing New”

AlbumHip Hop Lives (2007)

Lyric: “The streets won’t forgive you man, them guns go BLAM/ Have you crawlin up the wall like Spider-Man… But no, you ain’t made for this/I put my hand through your chest like Agent Smith.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

If you are even going to begin a conversation about pioneers of the Hip-Hop world, KRS-One (Knowledge Reigns Supreme) A.K.A “The conscience of Hip-Hop” A.K.A “The spokesperson for Hip-Hop” better be one of the tops of conversation. KRS-One has been deemed these nicknames by Rolling Stone, The Source and even the Wall Street Journal and the Zulu Nation. With Black History Month coming to an end, it only seemed right to have KRS-One bless “DTC.” Later on, I will speak more on how comic books and being nerdy could possibly relate to someone like KRS-One, but for now I want to take some time to focus on KRS-One – a Hip Hop god.

Above many other KRS was one of the notable Hip Hop heads in the community that used his power of music and reach to make positive progression for black culture. In 1988-89 KRS-One started the “Stop the Violence Movement” in response to the continuing violence heard throughout hip hop music and the black community. Collaborating with some of the biggest stars out of the East Coast Hip-Hop scene, KRS-One release a song called “Self Destruction,” with all the proceeds going toward the National Urban League.

KRS-One has always tried to spread positive messages to the black community, with songs such as “Sound of da Police,” which speaks on how the police treat people of color, and how their power is often abused and unjust. Another positive song that helps deem KRS-One a king of Hip-Hop is “Hip-Hop Vs. Rap.” KRS-One states in this song, “Rap is something you do, Hip Hop is something you live.” You know what else he said in “Hip Hop Vs. Rap”? He said, “When these suckers don’t respect it, check it/ FLAME ON, I know the light is bright but keep on watching me.” Um, excuse me, Mr. One, but your nerdy side is beginning to show.

Beyond rap music, Hip-Hop is a way of life that the black community truly has adopted and made their own. This goes deep down into his bones, seeing that he is the founder of the Temple of Hip Hop. The Temple of Hip Hop is a: ministry, archive, school, and society (M.A.S.S.). The goal is to encourage artists and radio stations to write, and play more socially conscious music, and also to maintain and promote Hip-Hop culture, KRS-One believes that Hip-Hop is more than music, break dancing and graffiti, but rather it is a political movement, a religion, and a culture. This has gotten the United Nation to recognize Hip Hop, as a full-fledged religion. What? Hip-Hop as a religion? YES, if you do not have faith, then I encourage you to pick up at your local book store, The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument, which has been referred to as the “Hip-Hop Bible.”

I know this is all fine and dandy but I haven’t really tied in comic books at all yet, well hold on to your Underoos because coming your way is some comic related info. When KRS-One was just a 6 year-old Lawrence Parker (1971), he started collecting both comic books and toys in Harlem New York, right around the time he starts to become interested in history, religion and music.  In 1994, KRS-One and Marshall Chess combined both literature and music to inspire urban youth. This combination turned out to be a comic book accompanied by an audio cassette tape both entitled “Break the Chain” under the Marvel Comics imprint. This comic was meant to teach urban youth that they don’t have to be slaves to their past or their conditions, that we must break the chains of ignorance in order to become something positive in this world. With other name drops of comic references I believe that part of KRS-One’s heart still belongs to comics. Either way, without KRS-One hip hop would not be the inspirational movement that is has become today; so how could Hip-Hop be dead if KRS-One is still its savior? To find out more about KRS-One and the Temple of Hip Hop visit his website.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Mos Def and Talib Kweli “Know That”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: Mos Def ft. Talib Kweli

Song: “Know That”

Album: Black on Both Sides (1999)

Lyric: “I Strike the Empire Back/ I Strike the Empire Back/ Fuck the Empire!/ High flying like the Millenium Falcon/ Piloted by Han Solo/ I never roll for dolo, fronting on me’s a no-no”

Character Reference/Meaning:

You know what Mos Def and the Star Wars have in common besides being awesome, ground breaking and revolutionary? One word – Rebels. That’s right, all you nerds out there, if you have been paying attention to Star Wars news as of late you should know about the new animated series entitled, Star Wars Rebels. This animated series is set to drop this year and is to take place between episodes III and IV. Just recently, some of the first footage was released with some new characters fans ought to love; sadly though, Mos Def is not one of them. Especially with great Star Wars related lines such as the chosen lyric of the week, it’s obvious that Mos Def a.k.a Yasiin Bey (he has rebranded himself Yasiin Bey as of late to keep his old record label from making money off the stage name Mos Def) is down for the cause.

Like any good Rebel soldier, Yasiin speaks out against injustice happening in the world and is on a mission to betterment. However, what speaks louder than words? ACTION! Not only has Mos Def spoken out about important tops in his songs such as the right to clean water (“New World Water“), the maltreatment of Katrina victims via the government (“Katrina Klap (Dollar Day)“), Poverty rates among African Americans (“Ni**as In Poorest“), as well as the murder of Trayvon Martin (“Made You Die“), but he has also put his words into action. In 2000 he performed a benefit concert for Mumia Abu-Jamal a death row inmate who is a known member of the Black Panther Party and was convicted of 1st degree murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Popular belief that Abu-Jamal didn’t receive a fair trial, and the court system was unjust to sentence him to the death penalty. He remains in prison today. In 2007 Yasiin appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher where he spoke about racism against African-Americans and the poor response by the American government during Hurricane Katrina, and the Jena Six. A few years later he made a reappearance where he spoke upon the dangers of nuclear weapons and the possible mistranslation of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist threats.

One of Mos Def’s largest and most “real” actions occurred in 2013 where he sought out to show the world the mistreatment, and violation of human rights people have been portraying on inmates at Guantanamo Bay. He did this by depicting how the prisoners have been forced feed against their will, despite it being an instructional procedure. It has been a point of Yasiin to spread positivity through his music and bring truth and reality to light by his actions. So in this song when he says he strikes back against the empire he is saying that he challenges and battles unjust happenings in this world. Seeing what “empires” have done to cause oppression with imperialism and colonialism it’s no wonder he rebels. Is Mos Def the Han Solo of our day and age, the rebel we need to speak and act out against the empire of today? Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but regardless of how you look at it, Mos Def is a social activist for the betterment of civil rights and humans in general. With his ability to spread positivity through his music and social action, I feel the world can be more peaceful, united and just, than it was yesterday.

WARNING: The following video depicts graphic images of force feeding. These images at times can be disturbing and difficult to watch. View discretion advised.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Public Enemy “Raise the Roof”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: Public Enemy

Song: “Raise the Roof”

Album: Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)

Lyric: “From the slammer, swing a hammer like the mighty Thor/ God of thunder, you’ll go under, then you’ll applaud/ And fathom the distance, the mad must reap/ Meet Namor, sea lord, Prince of the deep.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Continuing with our theme of progressive Hip-Hop artists and groups that helped pave the way for an entire generation and culture, we bring to the stage yet another legendary group, Public Enemy. YEEAAAAHHHH BOY!  Through songs like “Fight the Power” and “Rebel Without a Pause,” this group didn’t shy away from topics labeled taboo at the time – they often rhymed about race relations, the lack of equality and standards of living, and the ever-decaying and neglect of inner city neighborhoods.

It might be hard for the current generation, far removed from the Civil Rights era babies, to grasp, but the emergence of hard-hitting Hip-Hop music was a focal point for the resurgence of pride and political awareness in the black community. Public Enemy was views as being an integral part of this movement. They would see the injustice that was prevalent in everyday life and pour it out in their songs, dropping beats and knowledge. Public Enemy wasn’t afraid to let it known to the general population what was happening in their community and that they had no concerns about polarizing political statements. Public Enemy, beyond the music and the group, was a concept, stating, “if you are black, white, Hispanic, blue, purple or whatever, and are sick of the conditions, injustice, and inequality, then you are a public enemy.” Public Enemy transcended all types of media, they have even been blessed with their own graphic novel. With Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, The S1W and DJ Lord here to fight the Man, the New World Order, corrupt governments, crooked cops, slave traders, drug dealers, child molesters and much more; it’s obvious to see the reach and impact they had on society.

Chuck D has once said, “You can show all emotions in comics,” when asked if being in a comic would lessen the importance of the groups message. He also stated, “Those early Saturday morning cartoons got me…CBS’ Superman, Batman, Justice League. Then Space Ghost, the ABC’s Spider-Man and Fantastic Four led me straight into it.” I’m positive they inspired the masses, and led people from the slammer, to feeling like they had the power of Thor. They’ve allowed people to take a look at their lives and see how far they have gone, see that yes, before they could have been drowning in the hardships and conditions, yet those made them who they are. And through perseverance and strength, they now longer drown, but conquer who they are, and where they came from like Namor. Needless to say, Public Enemy is much more than just a rap group. With their reach in music, television, and even comic books, it is impossible to deem them anything less than superheroes.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: A Tribe Called Quest “Award Tour”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: A Tribe Called Quest

Song: “Award Tour”

AlbumMidnight Marauders (1993)

 

Lyric: “I have a quest to have a mic in my hand/ without that, it’s like Kryptonite and Superman.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to change it up a little bit and look at some of the artists that really contributed to the culture inside and outside the booth. Well, today I am here to try to bring back some of those hip-hop glory days by introducing A Tribe Called Quest to D.T.C. with their song “Award Tour.” Released more than twenty years ago, “Award Tour” has withstood the test of time with it’s catchy hook, jazzy beat and wise lyrics. Released off the Hip-Hop classic album Midnight Marauders in 1993, “Award Tour” was smack dab in the middle of the Native Tongues movement.

The Native Tongues were a group of progressive Black groups and artists (namely Tribe, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, Mos Def, and much more) that often collaborated in their work. Hip-Hop has had mega-groups like this before, but in the commercialist explosion of the genre in the late 1980’s, it was hard finding a groups with a positive message. A Tribe Called Quest embodied the movement, with songs about racial equality, treating women with respect, and having good, clean fun. Oh, and did you know that Phife Dog and Q-Tip, two of Tribe’s founding members, are huge nerds??

He might be Superman on the mic, but off of it? I can tell you this for a fact: the only thing weaker than Superman drowning in a pool full of Kryptonite is an MC without his mic. Without such tools, a person of poetry who has lyricism crawling through their bones is powerless to change the world around them. However, let’s switch it up and take a look at the rapper that does possess the almighty mic. A power so strong that Thor and his hammer can only wish to idolize it, a bond so deep and true that Superman’s X-ray vision can’t see past the first few layers, a passion so unrelenting that Poison Ivy can’t help but to succumb to its desire. To the rappers that started revolutions and what it meant to be a hip-hop mastermind that spoke to and for the people, that is what hip-hop heads view a rapper and his mic as. And that is exactly what Phife is saying in this particular lyric.

Only with that ability to make music and share it does he feel powerful, whether it be to make music that others relate to, or to shine a light on issues that other previously couldn’t relate to. All of this sounds dramatic and over the top, but I guarantee you, it’s fact for those individuals out there that can recite every line to “Award Tour.” It sounds an awful lot like being a superhero to me. For those of us who are unfortunate enough (or fortunate depending on how you look at it…those are scary places sometimes) to live in Metropolis, Gotham City, or any other city or planet thriving with super-beings, sometimes that music playing in our heads is our Superman. Everybody has their Superman; you just need to go discover what it is. For some it is their family and friends. For others it is music, movies, and books. And in this case of Phife Dog and the lest of A Tribe Called Quest, it’s being able to have the mic in their hand. What is yours?

Written by Evan Lowe and Sherif Elkhatib

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Wordburglar “Rap-Viper”

Artist: Wordburglar

Song: Rap-Viper

AlbumWelcome to Cobra Island (2013)

Lyric: “Back when Big Boa taught me how to box, in between swimming laps with Croc Master’s crocs.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Have you been feeling a severe lack of G.I. Joe in your life lately? Well, thankfully for you, I’m about to attempt to spit some Cobra knowledge on you. However, I am truly only a messenger of music and my latest delivery comes all the way from Cobra Island and Wordburglar’s pen. This entire song is in dedication to G.I. Joe and Cobra Commander. Scratch that – this whole ALBUM is dedicated to Joes and Cobras. So when looking at this song, it was pretty difficult to choose one lyric that stood out, but I believe the one I chose is pretty badass.

Let me give you a run down on why this particular lyric is awesome. Wordburglar learned how to box from Big Boa.

Oh no big deal, he can fight, whatever. RIGHT AND WRONG.

Big Boa is only the person Cobra Commander looks upon to test the level of a Joe’s pain tolerance. He is basically one bad MoFo.

So what, he can torture real good, but that doesn’t mean he knows how to fight. RIGHT AND WRONG, AGAIN.

Big Boa also has upwards of ten years-experience training the Cobra Troopers and is well known for being a fairly competent fighter who can subdue almost any opponent in physical combat. So if Big Boa is your Tae Bo instructor, you ought to start preparing yourself to be a killing machine; sorry, you have no choice. But hold up, wait a minute. Let me put some crocs up in it.

My guess is that Wordburglar has spent some quality time on Cobra Island, and during his stay he probably had some good laughs, fun adventures, and tons of excitement. So even though the island is covered with security crocadiles supplied by Guard-Gators Inc., whose founder is the one and hopefully only Croc Master, it sure didn’t stop Wordburglar from floating down the lazy and terrifying river. It’s probably a good thing that Croc Master was on the Island with Cobra and Big Boa because those training sessions can get pretty tiring. Trust me, I had a 2 week membership for this same program but I had to quit because I didn’t have enough time to watch my shows, and I need my shows.

And we all know that there is nothing more relaxing and frightening than swimming laps with hostile, psychotic, hungry, man-eating, and fast crocodiles. That’s just common knowledge as well as a common leisurely activity. It’s pretty obvious that Wordburglar is just trying to buy an in to join the Cobra Troopers, and at this rate he might actually do it. So next time you journey onto Cobra Island, be safe, and send a postcard.

Written by Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: RZA “Fast Cars”

Artist: RZA (Ft. Erica Bryant & Ghostface Killah)

Song: Fast Cars

Album: Birth of a Prince (2003)

Lyric: “Used to break days smokin’ coke and digi/ Til I bulk up to the Incredible Hulk like Bill Bixby/ Face green, knuckles burst out like Wolverine.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

Don’t make RZA angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Based on this line, it could possibly be due to drugs or fast cars or whatever. Coming out of RZA’s third studio album, Birth of a Prince, he brings us this hard-hitting song Fast Cars. Reading this lyric, I can guess two things about RZA. 1: Drugs – RZA use to like them and knows a lot about them. 2: He is a nerd because not only does he use a very famous superhero rivalry reference in this song, but he also use to watch the Incredible Hulk TV show back when he was just a wee lad. Now I’m not going to spend much more time speaking on coke or digi or the alcoholic drink named after my favorite hero, simply because I don’t know anything about that mess. However, what I do know is the Hulk and the Wolverine. Looks like it’s time to flex my nerdy-ness.

Picture, if you will, a young RZA at 8 years old sitting on the floor watching a scrawny man named Bruce Banner (played by Bill Bixby) become an enraged massive man monster deemed “The Hulk” (Played by Lou Ferrigno). Lou Ferrigno actually made an appearance in Hulk movie which coincidentally was released the same year as this album, 2003. Young RZA continued this tradition of his for 5 years, until the show ended. Now my guess is that this void of no Hulk is what sent him spiraling down the drug hole, but it’s just a hypothesis. Now this line by RZA could mean that when he drinks it makes him go a little crazy, he flexes out, balls his fists and is ready to go off. However, it could also mean that he dropped the drugs and decided to become a man-powerhouse such as the Incredible Hulk just as Bill Bixby did as Bruce Banner. And When RZA finally decided to do that, he got up and decided to puff out his chest and fight off the world like Wolverine. I prefer the latter theory. I appreciate this line because whether RZA realized it or not he put a classic rivalry together with the Hulk and Wolverine.

This fight has been immortalized in several comic series. Such as Ultimate Wolverine VS. Hulk, Incredible Hulk #181 (first appearance of the Wolverine), The Incredible Hulk #454, #340, Hulk #8. This feud is also shown in Marvel Fanfare, the Infinity Gauntlet, and various Wolverine and X-Men comics. Seriously people, this rivalry is even in cartoon shows such as Hulk VS and a Marvel Knights motion-comics adaptations. So when Bruce Banner is Hulked out with his face green and filled with rage, what else is Wolverine to do but tighten up his knuckles and burst out his adamantium claws, engaging in what is always an epic battle? Similar to how RZA battles on the mic. It’s only nature, bub.

Written by Evan Lowe