Dropping Science: Marvel’s November Hip-Hop Variants

After immense success with putting Hip-Hop duo Run the Jewels on the cover of a few of their books, Marvel has expanded the idea to give each and every single book in their All-New All-Different line-up its own Hip-Hop variant. We’ve tracked down each cover, provided information about the album inspiring the variant cover, and given our two cents on whether it fits the subject. We’ll be doing this each month for as long as the All-New All-Different brand keeps putting out variants!

October 2015 Hip-Hop Variants

November 4th

Extraordinary X-Men #1 - 3 Feet High and Rising

Extraordinary X-Men #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (Writer), Humberto Ramos (Artist)
Cover Artist: Sanford Greene
Hip-Hop Album: De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Me, Myself and I,” “Buddy,” “Say No Go,” “Eye Know
How well does it fit?: De La Soul were on the front lines of the wacky, relatable, and socially responsible rhymes. With Lemire writing this new X-Men series, it’s about damn time the X-series got back to its roots.

 

Deadpool #1 - Attention Deficit Deadpool #1
Marvel Creative Team: Gerry Duggan (Writer), Mike Hawthorne (Artist)
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Hip-Hop Album: Wale’s Attention Deficit (2009)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Pretty Girls,” “Chillin‘,” “Beautiful Bliss
How well does it fit?: The album name definitely fits here, as Wade Wilson is one of the most absent-minded characters in pop culture. Wale isn’t nearly as popular as Deadpooly over here, but he gets to have brunch with Jerry Seinfeld, which is kind of zany for a Hip-Hop artist.

 

Drax #1 - Man on the Moon II Drax #1
Marvel Creative Team: CM Punk/Cullen Bunn (Writers), Scott Hepburn (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mike Choi
Hip-Hop Album: KiD CuDi’s Man on the Moon II (2010)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Erase Me,” “Revofev,” “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young
How well does it fit?: Drax has been gaining tons of popularity for his sardonic sense of humor, but really hasn’t done anything to make me want to invest time in his solo career. Same with Cudi. His early success that was launched almost solely from Kanye’s sound floundered around until he began his “acting” career. Here’s hoping Drax won’t flop on his own.

Hercules #1 - Black Flame
Hercules #1
Marvel Creative Team: Dan Abnett (Writer), Luke Ross (Artist)
Cover Artist: Theotis Jones
Hip-Hop Album: Lil B’s Black Flame (2011)

Howard the Duck #1 - Return to the 36 Chambers Howard the Duck #1
Marvel Creative Team: Chip Zdarsky (Writer), Joe Quinones (Artist)
Cover Artist: Juan Doe
Hip-Hop Album: Ol Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers (1993)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” “Brooklyn Zoo,” “Raw Hide
How well does it fit?: Before his untimely death in 2004,  ODB was one of the grimiest dudes in rap. He was one of the few to transform his Wu-Tang membership into a solid career. His shining characteristic was being able to grab his nuts and throw up his middle finger to the authorities – any authority – just like our fowl friend, Howard. Howard, though, might not have the same FBI file as Dirt McGirt, which includes a shootout with NYPD. Rebel.

 

Nova #1 - Born Sinner Nova #1
Marvel Creative Team: Sean Ryan (Writer), Cory Smith (Artist)
Cover Artist: Eric Canete
Hip-Hop Album: J. Cole’s Born Sinner (2013)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Crooked Smile,” “Power Trip,” “Rich Niggaz,” “Born Sinner
How well does it fit?: Cole is one of Hip-Hop’s brightest stars right now. His ability to relate to listeners with common themes and wrap it up with great music is one of his charming qualities. What makes him an ironic choice for a Nova cover is that this is very much a father-son book; J. Cole often raps about his crappy deadbeat father who abandoned him. Dick move, Marvel.

 

Vision #1 - Rolling Papers Vision #1
Marvel Creative Team: Tom King (Writer), Gabriel H Walta (Artist)
Cover Artist: Vanessa Del Ray
Hip-Hop Album: Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers (2011)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Black and Yellow,” “On My Level,” “No Sleep
How well does it fit?: I don’t know what kind of hallucinations that weed is giving Wiz, but they’re not the same one that the Marvel robot gets. Wiz Khalifa looks like the type of kid who got beat up a lot in high school, but he’s been the face of the Hip-Hop skater stoner movement for the past 5 years. Don’t judge him by his appearance, he actually makes some pretty legit feel-good music. A sequel (because album sequels are a thing now) to Rolling Papers is due out next year.

November 11th

All-New All-Different Avengers #1 - Illadelph Halflife All-New All-Different Avengers #1
Marvel Creative Team: Mark Waid (Writer), Adam Kubert/Mahmud Asrar (Artist)
Cover Artist: Jim Cheung
Hip-Hop Album: The Roots’ Illadelph Halflife (1996)
Best Tracks off the Album: “What They Do,” “Ital (The Universal Side),” “The Hypnotic
How well does it fit?: I’m sorry, I have to say it. The Roots are dope as f*ck, and this group of Avengers is dope as f*ck. They might not draw headlines individually (save for Iron Man – he can be the ?uestlove of The Avengers), but as a group, both groups make some wonderful music. This will be a solid book, especially with Mark Waid at the helm.


All-New Hawkeye - Mecca and the Soul Brother
All-New Hawkeye #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (Writer), Ramón Pérez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Sanford Greene
Hip-Hop Album: Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul Brother (1992)
Best Tracks off the Album: “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” “Straighten It Out,” “Can’t Front on Me
How well does it fit?: Hawkeye and Hawkguy are one in the same. Kate Bishop has come under the tutelage of the Avenger Clint Barton, but has pulled his butt from the fire plenty of times. Similarly, Pete Rock and CL Smooth are a rapper/DJ combination so solid that even saying their names separately sounds weird unless spoken together. Near the end of Fraction/Aja’s Hawkeye series, these two split up and the book suffered. Hopefully these two can stick together and whoop some ass.


All-New Wolverine #1 - Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood
All-New Wolverine #1
Marvel Creative Team: Tom Taylor (Writer), David Lopez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Keron Grant
Hip-Hop Album: DMX’s Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Slippin‘,” “Blackout,” “Coming From
How well does it fit?: Unlike DMX, the sun has not set on the possibility for a good Wolverine book. However, X-23 has a lot of unbridled rage that she can channel into a successful stint as the new Wolverine, just like DMX did in songs like “Slippin.” In all seriousness, this album was one of DMX’s weakest, but of all the DMX album covers, this one was too good to pass up.


Carnage #1 - Dare iz a Darkside
Carnage #1
Marvel Creative Team: Gerry Conway (Writer), Mike Perkins (Artist)
Cover Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Hip-Hop Album: Redman’s Dare Iz A Darkside (1994)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Bobyahed2dis,” “Cosmic Slop,” “Rockafella,” “Can’t Wait
How well does it fit?: This is one of the best fits out of all the variants – matching the spastic, chaotic Carnage with one of the biggest weirdos in all of Hip-Hop. Redman is off the charts in terms of his individuality, but still garners enough respect to rock with the mainstream artists. Plus, this cover is CLASSIC 90’s Hip-Hop.

Illuminati - Power

Illuminati #1
Marvel Creative Team: Josh Williamson (Writer), Shawn Crystal (Artist)
Cover Artist: Brittany Holloway-Brown
Hip-Hop Album: Ice T’s Power (1988)


The Ultimates #1 - The Fugees
The Ultimates #1
Marvel Creative Team: Al Ewing (Writer), Kenneth Rocafort (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mike Deodato Jr.
Hip-Hop Album: The Fugees’ The Score (1996)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Fu-Gee-La,” “Ready or Not,” “Killing Me Softly,” “No Woman No Cry
How well does it fit?: The Fugees exploded onto the scene in the mid-1990’s when Pras, Lauryn Hill, and Wyclef Jean created the Fugees. All solid artists by themselves (except Pras, he sucks), but together make one of the greatest groups in Hip-Hop history. Sadly, emotions got in the way and they split permanently, but we still have The Score to appreciate. When it comes to the book, I’m ready to see a story with Black Panther and Captain Marvel (oh, and Spectrum, I guess).

 

Web Warriors #1 - Lord WillinWeb Warriors #1
Marvel Creative Team: Mike Costa (Writer), David Bildeon (Artist)
Cover Artist: Damion Scott
Hip-Hop Album: The Clipse’s Lord Willin’ (2002)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Grindin‘,” “When The Last Time,” “Ma, I Don’t Love Her,” “Cot Damn
How well does it fit?: If you’ve had your ear to the group in Hip-Hop over the last decade, you may have heard of The Clipse, but chances are that this group is unknown to you. Two ex-dopeboys (Pusha T and No Malice) from Virginia lay colorful metaphor after another in this album produced by Pharrell’s Neptunes label. The lyrics are hard and grimy, but there’s a certain grace and intellect in their rhymes that eludes most rappers cut from similar cloths. The Web Warriors I assume are picking up where Spider-Verse just left off, and have a crazy ensemble you would expect to be gimmicky put together a decent story.

November 18th

Black Knight #1 - Food and Liquor

Black Knight #1
Marvel Creative Team: Frank Tieri (Writer), Luca Pizzari (Artists)
Cover Artist: Gyimah Gariba
Hip-Hop Album: Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor (2006)
Best Tracks off the Album: “The Cool,” “He Say She Say,” “Daydreamin‘,” “Kick, Push
How well does it fit?: Black Knight has actually gone through over a half-dozen iterations since the mid-fifties, the mantle being passed from generation to generation (similar to Azrael in DC). Somehow he’s managed to fly under the radar, even with the most recent iteration in Black Panther (2005). Lupe is innovative and intelligent, but somehow manages to get overlooked by Hip-Hop heads and mainstream fans alike.


Ms. Marvel #1 - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Ms. Marvel #1
Marvel Creative Team: G. Willow Wilson (Writer), Takeshi Miyazawa/Adrian Alphona (Artists)
Cover Artist: Jenny Frison
Hip-Hop Album: Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Ex Factor,” “Lost One,” “Everything is Everything,” “Nothing Even Matters
How well does it fit?: Oh hell yeah, this is a combination I can dig. One of the most socially-conscious R&B artists of all time is paired with one of the most socially-conscious superheroes in the Marvel roster. It’s just… perfect. If you don’t know Lauryn Hill, go Miseducate yourself. Right now.

 

Silk - The New Danger

Silk #1
Marvel Creative Team: Robbie Thompson (Writer), Stacey Lee (Artist)
Cover Artist: Woo Chul Lee
Hip-Hop Album: Yasin Bey’s (Mos Def’s) A New Danger (2004)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Ghetto Rock,” “Modern Marvel,” “Sex, Love, and Money,” “Zimzallabim,” “Sunshine
How well does it fit?: Cindy Moon has had enough of your bullsh*t, and now she’s robbing banks with Black Cat. We’re not sure how she got there from the end of the world in issue #7, but whatever. Yasin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) has the weight of the people behind his voice, and has numerous songs about telling the establishment to eat it (“Dollar Day” and “Rape Over” to name a couple). At the very least, A New Danger is a perfect album cover for knocking over banks.


Spider-Woman #1 - Capital Punishment
Spider-Woman #1
Marvel Creative Team: Dennis Hopeless (Writer), Javier Rodriguez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Natcha Bustos
Hip-Hop Album: Big Pun’s Capital Punishment (1993)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Still Not A Player,” “Super Lyrical,” Twins (Deep Cover 98),” “Tres Leches
How well does it fit?: I don’t get it; is this a pregnancy joke? Before Pun’s death at 28 years old, the guy weighed over 700 pounds. I mean that he was so fat, his Wikipedia page should list years active ending way before his death in 2000. Fun fact about Pun: besides being one of the most respected MCs of the mid-90s, was also a notorious wife beater. Smooth move, Marvel.


Star Lord #1 - Ivry
Star Lord #1
Marvel Creative Team: Sam Humphries (Writer), Dave Johnson (Artist)
Cover Artist: Tradd Moore
Hip-Hop Album: The 100s’ Ivry (2014)

November 25th


Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 - Summertime '06
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1
Marvel Creative Team: Amy Reeder (Writer), Natacha Bustos (Artist)
Cover Artist: Jeffrey Veregge
Hip-Hop Album: Vince Staples’ Summertime ’06 (2015)

Venom-Space Knight - Lost in Space Black Elvis

Venom: Space Knight #1
Marvel Creative Team: Robbie Thompson (Writer), Ariel Olivetti (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mike Choi
Hip-Hop Album: Kool Keith’s Black Elvis/ Lost in Space (1999)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Livin’ Astro,” “Lost in Space
How well does it fit?: Oh, isn’t it obvious?? Venom is a Black Symbiote…in space! Kool Keith has changed personas more than a couple times, but each personality he exudes is funky and relatable. 


That about does it for Marvel’s new books and the Hip-Hop variants that come with them. Check back next month for a whole new set of entries.

 

Dropping Science: Marvel’s October Hip-Hop Variants

After immense success with putting Hip-Hop duo Run the Jewels on the cover of a few of their books, Marvel has expanded the idea to give each and every single book in their All-New All-Different line-up its own Hip-Hop variant. We’ve tracked down each cover, provided information about the album inspiring the variant cover, and given our two cents on whether it fits the subject. We’ll be doing this each month for as long as the All-New All-Different brand keeps putting out variants!

October 7th

Amazing Spider- Man #1 - Midnight MaraudersAmazing Spider-Man #1
Marvel Creative Team: Dan Slott (Writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Hip-Hop Album: A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders (1993)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Award Tour,” “Electric Relaxation,” “Oh My God
How well does it fit?: The cover to Midnight Marauders is legendary for the faces in its background, compiled of some of the most famous artists in the biz at the timeAmazing Spider-Man also seems to love this concept, and includes a bunch of famous Spider-faces new and old – even those who will not make appearances in the book.

Contest of Champions #1 - Liquid SwordsContest of Champions #1
Marvel Creative Team: Al Ewing (Writer), Paco Medina (Artist)
Cover Artist: Denys Cowan/Bill Sienkiewicz
Hip-Hop Album: GZA’s Liquid Swords (1995)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Liquid Swords,” “Shadowboxin‘”
How well does it fit?: This book is going to be full of the leftovers of everything enjoyable from Battleworld and smush it back together with pretty drawings and fight scenes in a shallow attempt to recapture the magic… hey! Just like this GZA album. MAJOR shout-out to Milestone Media co-founder Denys Cowan for working on this variant cover. Don’t know the name? Look it up!

Dr. Strange #1 - The ChronicDoctor Strange #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jason Aaron (Writer), Chris Bachalo (Artist)
Cover Artist: Juan Doe
Hip-Hop Album: Dr. Dre’s The Chronic (1992)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Nuthin’ But A G Thang,” “Let Me Ride,” “F*ck With Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)
How well does it fit?: Well, there’s the obvious name similarity. Like Doctor Dre, the good Doctor Stephen Strange seems to be all powerful and everybody respects him… but he doesn’t really seem to do anything specifically worth praising. 

Invincible Iron Man #1 - Get Rich or Die TryinInvincible Iron-Man #1
Marvel Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), David Marquez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Hip-Hop Album: 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003)
Best Tracks off the Album: “In Da Club,” “21 Questions,” “If I Can’t,” “Life’s on the Line
How well does it fit?: The biggest difference between Tony Stark and Curtis Jackson isn’t a genius intellect or tendency to play superhero, it’s that 50 Cent is BROKE AS F*CK.

October 14th

Extraordinary X-Men #1 - 3 Feet High and RisingExtraordinary X-Men #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jeff Lemire (Writer), Humberto Ramos (Artist)
Cover Artist: Sanford Greene
Hip-Hop Album: De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Me, Myself and I,” “Buddy,” “Say No Go,” “Eye Know
How well does it fit?: De La Soul were on the front lines of the wacky, relatable, and socially responsible rhymes. With Lemire writing this new X-Men series, it’s about damn time the X-series got back to its roots.

Update: The release of Extraordinary X-Men #1 has been moved to November 4th.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 - Bizarre Ride IIGuardians of the Galaxy #1
Marvel Creative Team: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Valerio Schiti (Artist)
Cover Artist: Shawn Crystal
Hip-Hop Album: Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (1992)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Passin’ Me By,” “Ya Mama,” “Officer
How well does it fit?: The Pharcyde have always been regarded as the “weirdos,” choosing a more melodic tone over gangster tales (which was huge for the early 90’s in LA). Likewise, the most recent Guardians seemed to overcome all odds to become a household name.

New Avengers #1 - The MessageNew Avengers #1
Marvel Creative Team: Al Ewing (Writer), Gerardo Sandoval (Artist)
Cover Artist: Ed Piskor
Hip-Hop Album: Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s The Message (1982)
Best Tracks off the Album: “The Message,” “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel
How well does it fit?: “The Message” is one of the most humble songs in the history of Hip-Hop, taking aim at social injustice and poverty in the black community. New Avengers? It has Kid Hulk… Yes, this book is going to have to depend on great dialog and humor. Not looking forward to this book.

Sam Wilson Captain America #1 - Long.Live.A$APSam Wilson: Captain America #1
Marvel Creative Team: Nick Spencer (Writer), Daniel Acuna (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Hip-Hop Album: A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live.A$AP (2013)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Wild for the Night,” “F*ckin’ Problems,” “Golie
How well does it fit?: A$AP Rocky might be a wonderful artist, who knows? I’m not going to take the time to find out, and sadly, I feel the same way about Sam Wilson being the new Captain America. That being said, it’s a beautiful adaptation of the original cover.

Spider-Gwen #1 - The Great Adventures of Slick RickSpider-Gwen #1
Marvel Creative Team: Jason Latour (Writer), Robbi Rodriguez (Artist)
Cover Artist: Humberto Ramos
Hip-Hop Album: Slick Rick’s The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (1988)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Children’s Story,” “Hey Young World,” “Mona Lisa,” “Teenage Love
How well does it fit?: Slick Rick was the piece that fit the Hip-Hop scene so well that you almost overlooked the fact that he was a British pirate. Gwen Stacy, similarly, is a product of her multiverse – a damsel in distress that’s supposed to be dead, but instead is one of the hottest new superheroes in the Marvel U.

Uncanny Avengers #1 - Yo! Bum Rush the ShowUncanny Avengers #1
Marvel Creative Team: Gerry Duggan (Writer), Ryan Stegman (Artist)
Cover Artist: Jason Pearson
Hip-Hop Album: Public Enemy’s Yo! Bum Rush the Stage (1987)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Public Enemy No. 1,” “Miuzi Weighs A Ton,” “You’re Gonna Get Yours,” “Sophisticated B*itch
How well does it fit?: Well, there’s Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel, Thor, Sam Wilson, and Iron Man… So I’m calling it now – Nova is going to be this book’s Flavor Flav. This is by far one of the most diverse teams in Marvel’s line-up, so if they have anything resembling the real talk that Mistachuck can spit, it’ll be a well-deserved homage.

Spider-Man 2099 - Cruel SummerSpider-Man 2099 #1
Marvel Creative Team: Peter David (Writer), William Silney (Artist)
Cover Artist: Afu Chan
Hip-Hop Album: G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer (2012)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Mercy.1,” “New God Flow.1,” “Don’t Like.1,” “Clique
How well does it fit?: G.O.O.D. Music created enough momentum just using Kanye West’s name to get attention, but not enough to really make an impact. That’s pretty much exactly what’s been going on with Miguel O’Hara. Hopefully this new team can take him back into the realm of relevance.

October 21st

Angela Queen of Hel #1 - Pink FridayAngela: Queen of Hel #1
Marvel Creative Team: Marguerite Bennett (Writer), Stephanie Hans (Artist)
Cover Artist: Annie Wu
Hip-Hop Album: Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday (2010)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Roman’s Revenge,” “SuperB ass,” “Moment 4 Life,” “Blazin
How well does it fit?: It’s a pretty bold statement to let Angela’s dopplegänger to be Nicki Minaj. They must really be desperate to sell some books for the Asgardian. However, Angela is just as insane and deadly as Nicki is with her lyrics.

Karnak #1 - Saturday NightKarnak #1
Marvel Creative Team: Warren Ellis (Writer), Gerardo Zaffino (Artist)
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Hip-Hop Album: Schoolly D’s Saturday Night (1986)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Saturday Night,” “We Get Ill
How well does it fit?: Karnak and Schoolly D have one district trait in common. I do not plan on picking anything up with their name on it anytime soon. 

The Astonishing Ant-Man #1- Ready to DieThe Astonishing Ant-Man #1
Marvel Creative Team: Nick Spencer (Writer), Ramon Rosanas (Artist)
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
Hip-Hop Album: The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die (199?)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” “Suicidal Thoughts,” “Gimme the Loot,” “Machine Gun Funk,” “Warning,” “Who Shot Ya
How well does it fit?: The irony is overwhelming here. Really though, how does Scott Lang sit side by side with the legendary Notorious B.I.G.? Well, like Biggie, pretty much anything with the new Ant-Man on the cover is worth adding to your collection. Ready to Die was also Big’s first album and the platform he used to rocket to stardom.

Uncanny Inhumans #1 - AqueminiUncanny Inhumans #1
Marvel Creative Team: Charles Soule (Writer), Steve McNiven (Artist)
Cover Artist: Damion Scott
Hip-Hop Album: Outkast’s Aquemini (199?)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Rosa Park,” “SpottieOttieDopalicious
How well does it fit?: Outkast is like other Atlanta Hip-Hop acts, except it’s not. They’re weird. They’re fascinating. They’re BETTER. Same goes for the super-race of Inhumans from Attilan(ta). 

October 28th

The Howling Commandos #1 - 6 Feet Deep '06The Howling Commandos #1
Marvel Creative Team: Frank Barbiere (Writer), Brent Schoonover (Artist)
Cover Artist: Wilfred Santiago
Hip-Hop Album: Gravediggaz’s 6 Feet Deep ’06 (199?)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Diary of a Madman,” “1-800-Suicide
How well does it fit?: What a better way to show that your book is full of crazy monsters than with a Gravediggaz album cover? One of the most manic groups in rap is a perfect fit for The Howling Commandos. That’s assuming the book isn’t a corny mess of horribleness.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 - WolfThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1
Marvel Creative Team: Ryan North (Writer), Erica Henderson (Artist)
Cover Artist: Phil Noto
Hip-Hop Album: Tyler the Creator’s Wolf (199?)
Best Tracks off the Album: “Domo23,” “Tamale,” “Jamba
How well does it fit?: As childish as Tyler can be, he’s also pretty damn smart and resourceful. And with his group (former group?) standing behind him, Tyler is brazen enough to say and do some of the silliest things in all of Hip-Hop. Doreen is no different. With her misfit college friends and Tippy the Talking Squirrel, she kicks butt and takes names at the same time!

That about does it for Marvel’s new books and the Hip-Hop variants that come with them. Check back next month for a whole new set of entries.

 

Murs – Have A Nice Life Review

Album Specs

Tracks/Length: 14 tracks, 47 minutes (+2 bonus tracks, “The Strangest” and “Fun-eral”)

Notable Guest Appearances: MDNR (“No More Control”), King Fantastic (“Two Step”), E-40 (“PTSD”), Slug of Atmosphere (“Fun-eral”)

Album Genre/Tone: Hip-Hop, serious topics and positive tones both approached with humor, great variety in instrumentals

Lead Single: “Okey Dog”

Purchase album at Strange Music.

 


Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Pretty much the best eargasm you’ve ever experienced. This is the album you will be listening to when you are sixty and your grandchildren will be judging you for.

A: All you need to appreciate this album is two ears connected to a heart. Whether it’s the deeper message, the prolific beats or memorable lyrics, everybody should be listening to this record.

B: If you like the genre, then you will love this album. You might keep it on repeat for a month, but it will eventually find itself in the bowels of your shuffle list. Hardcore fans of the artist will disagree with this rating, but it can be considered more niche than universally acceptable.

C: There are a solid tracks, but it’s really only worth a few rotations as a complete package. Those not into the genre probably shouldn’t even bother. It’s the musical equivalent of a sad handjob.

DThis album fails, in most aspects, to make a good or lasting impression. However, some out there might find joy in it, if even for only a few songs. 

F: The only thing this album is good for is to make your ears bleed. You should steal every copy of this album and throw them all into a fire for a sacrifice ceremony meant to disband the demons living in the CD. And I say steal because it is obviously not worth the money. Or it would make a great gift for your enemies.


 

History Behind the Album

Perhaps one of the most important things to realize about this album is that it is Murs’ first album under the Strange Music label. Murs’ journey with Strange Music began between 2006 and 2007 when Murs invited the Strange Music crew to perform with him at the “Paid Dues” festival. Little did he know, this event would create valuable partnerships for him. Tech N9ne and the rest of the crew recognized the respect Murs had for Strange Music and Hip-Hop – as well as his skill – and proceeded to fly him out to meet the whole Strange Music crew. Murs was later asked to join Tech on a major tour he was preparing to journey on as sign of mutual respect. Murs recognized the mutual appreciation and had never experienced a true partnership like this throughout his career. After breaking bread with the Strange Music family and turning down a separate, more visible tour, Murs’ journey down the strange road official began. Although Murs did not officially sign with Strange Music until February 2, 2014, the connection was always there.

murs better call saul

With this album in particular, it was vital for Murs to make it was self-reflective as possible. With the label approving Murs to have creative control with his album, the rest began to fall into place. The first step to achieving this goal was asking his old homie, “Jessie,” to produce his album and take the album’s sound as close to Murs’ roots as possible. Murs aimed to have this album speak to him personally. Throughout his career, he has had songs which highlight his personal sound; however, none like Have a Nice Life. Murs saw this album as a new start to his career, a new beginning, and a fresh chance to put himself in an album. During an interview with HotNewHipHop, Murs speaks upon his new album by stating, “Basically the duality of the term Have A Nice Life is, it could be a nice way of just wishing someone the best, or it could be a nice way of saying ‘Fuck outta my face’ without saying it. It’s something I’ve used with the police often, and people who fuck up my order at Chick Fil A.” He continued by explained “It’s just me, it’s who I am.” With little press showcasing Strange Music’s addition of Murs’, the album as a whole did not receiving major attention, only being announced just over a month before its release. Murs officially announced his new album on April 14, 2015, and proceeded to drop on May 19, 2015.


What You’re in For

While Murs has made a name for himself throughout the years, most of his career has been spent creating music with others. Whether it’s being part of a group of lyricists (Living Legends, 3 Melancholy Gypsies, The White Mandingos, ¡Mayday!), a single artist (Slug from Atmosphere, Fashawn, Terrace Martin) or his well-chronicled masterpieces with producer 9th Wonder, Murs has not had the opportunity to put out his own sound since his major label debut, MURS for President. Murs hasn’t really been censored or boxed in when it comes to what defines him, but Have A Nice Life is a byproduct of his twenty year career forged in struggle, love and heartbreak.

black lives matter

Most artists go for a specific theme or genre when it comes to a concept record, but this album has so much variety that you there is something for everybody on it. Instead of letting the songs define the type of music on the record, the man that Murs is defines the content of his songs. You can expect social and political commentary, but it’s not the familiar rage that has permeated its way onto most Hip-Hop tracks. The album’s leading single “Okey Dog” is a fresh take on a similar concept, giving kids a way to still show strength without succumbing to the pitfalls of gang violence. Murs comes across like your cool uncle who tries to school you on how to be a man as opposed to the angsty raptivist who wants to burn the world down.

okey dog

While heavy topics like gang violence and death are discussed (“I Miss Mikey,” “No More Control,” “Woke Up Dead”), the majority of the record is spent on talking about love (“Mi Corazon” is a bi-lingual masterpiece that takes listeners back to their first love) and just… growing old and happy (“Pussy & Pizza”). Some of the songs come across as flat and not very memorable, but it doesn’t derail the experience of the album. Each track can be enjoyed separately (thank you, mp3 players), as the album isn’t really a cohesive experience. It almost feels like 14 tracks that were released separately instead of being created with a singular entity in mind.

okey dog old man

One of my favorite aspects about Murs is that, like Slug of Atmosphere, everything he says is clear and concise, making it easier for listeners to connect to the music instead of spending time trying to figure out what he’s saying. The rhyme schemes are very straight-forward; there isn’t much figurative language to his lyrics, but his strength has always been powerful statements and poetic story-telling. However, with no track lasting over four minutes, it’s to be expected that most of the album’s moments would come from the musical arrangement of the album as opposed to complex concepts.


Songs On Repeat

“P.T.S.D.” featuring E-40


Candy Bars: “You really think you know how my people live?/You think you down because you know who Deebo is?/PTSD on my emo shit/Deep down in my heart, where the evil lives.”

During an interview, Murs speaks about his past, and growing up in a rough neighborhood stating how a majority of the time, he feared for his life. Murs mentions how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something not often spoken about in the black community, because traumatic events are both expected and frequent. Using his own experiences, Murs hopes to reach a wide base with his message.

“No More Control” featuring MNDR


Candy Bars: “If black lives matter, then black lives matter/And the color of the killer shouldn’t even be a factor.”

Murs created this song with the purpose to inspire people to seek change in the black community as well as within the Hip-Hop community. During a press release for the album, Murs states, “’No More Control’ is about not letting the media or powers that be control us or guide us into thinking that the problem is anything other than violence.”

“Black Girls Be Like”


Candy Bars: “Black girls gotta know their worth/And every black girl gotta know this verse.”

The subject matter and vibe of this song are completely not what I expected. Murs LOVES writing songs about girls, and unless they’re romantic, they aren’t usually endearing. However, this breakdancing-inspired sound is an ode to black women and is as empowering as it is dope. It’s genius, because instead of coming across as sappy, “Black Girls Be Like” is an instant B-Boy classic with an amazing message!

“I Miss Mikey”


Candy Bars: “Wanna escape the path that you’re on?/Erasing the pain by waving a wand/Some roll a J, some hit the bong/I let the beat play, then I make a song.”

The loss of Eyedea and Ability rapper Mike Larsen in 2010 hit the Hip-Hop world hard, especially those connected to the Rhymesayers family. Murs’ lament to Eyedea is a wonderfully honest complement to Atmosphere’s “Flicker” off the Southsiders record last year that broadens the sentiment to dealing with the regular loss of his friends.


The Quick and Dirty

Grade: B+

murs have a nice life 01

Have A Nice Life may not refine Hip-Hop, but it defines the man that Murs has become throughout the years. He’s never been about gang-banging, selling drugs or degrading women, but now his voices against them sound more like a sage’s wisdom than a big brother’s nagging. Murs’ debut with Strange Music is 100% Murs and that’s best for all of us.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Evan Lowe

Diggin’ Through the Crates: The Roots “Thought @ Work”

Song: “Thought @ Work”

Artist: The Roots

Album: Phrenology

Lyric: “I’m like Aquaman and Brown Hornet/I’m like Imhotep but don’t flaunt it.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

This time on “Diggin’ Through the Crates, we focus our time on parallel subjects: The Roots out of Philadelphia, Aquaman, Brown Hornet, and Imhotep. Chances are, if you have watched Jimmy Fallon do his Late Night or Tonight Show thing in the past few years, then you know The Roots as the band that does all the homemade covers of pop songs (the Sesame Street theme is my favorite). However, to those of us rooted in Hip-Hop, The Legendary Roots Crew are the best damn group to ever rock a crowd. While Wu Tang Clan got all the hype for knockin’ heads in Staten Island, The Roots were noddin’ heads all over the country with their genre-neutral melodies and conscience rhymes. Perhaps being that good was a gift and a curse, with millions of fans across the world yet still not leading to the commercial success that other groups in their class had (Wu Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, N.W.A., etc). The Roots are always the underdog, and with the release of their most recent record, And When You Shoot Your Cousin, the world doubted they could still put music out like they used to. The Roots are a sleeping giant, and they finally have the recognition they deserve by being on the best late show on television and whether it’s soft melodies like “What They Do” or venomous cyphers like this one here, The Roots always put heart into their music.

“Thought @ Work” is five minutes of hard-hitting rhymes by head lyricist Black Thought, who covers everything from modern superheroes to ancient Gods in just one line. This started off as a way for us to give a nod to the recent photo that dropped of Jason Momoa as Aquaman, but no other reference embodied the spirit of the underdog quite like this gem. Until “Unite the Seven” became a household phrase (well, maybe just our household), Aquaman has been steadily been attempting to gain the reputation of being a comic book character people could get behind. His days of riding seahorses are over; Arthur Curry is a powerful force in the comic book world, possessing skills that no other on the Justice League has. He is a king of his own domain, a domain in which the other Justice Leaguers have no power in. Most importantly is his connection to ocean dwellers – his telepathy can direct the oceans’ inhabitants the way no other being could otherwise. I’m not saying that Philadelphia is the same as Atlantis, but both Aquaman and Black Thought have a special connection to and draw power from the land they rule.

Meanwhile, the Brown Hornet was a reference to a character from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, first airing in 1979. Created by Bill Cosby, Brown Hornet was the first mainstream animated black superhero to air on television. He was given segments within the show instead of his own series, believed to be due to Cosby wanting to avoid the backlash from putting out a black superhero cartoon based on morality – which was unheard of at the time. BH was a parody of the Green Hornet, and sort of a bumbling hero similar to Inspector Gadget, one that resolved issues with the help of his sidekicks, here named Tweetle Beele and Stinger. Black Thought, like the Brown Hornet, is a mighty force for good, but may have fallen to the wayside by not indulging in what mainstream media has dictated should be the content of Hip Hop these days. Even at the risk of falling off in popularity, Black Thought and the Legendary Roots Crew stand for justice and behind their people.

Contributing to this piece was Lewis Brown, the new Brown Hornet. You can find him here!

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Lupe Fiasco “Mural”

Song: “Mural”

Artist: Lupe Fiasco

Album: Tetsuo & Youth

Lyric: “I run the Gambit like I’m throwing cards/From popular mechanics to overdosing hearts/Paint cold pictures like Nova Scotia landscapes/Nerd game make Mandelbrot sets when we handshake”

Character Reference/Meaning:

“Digging Through the Crates” is finally back! What better way to ring in the return of “DTC” with a track off Lupe Fiasco’s new album, Tetsuo & Youth. Through the years, Lupe Fiasco has earned a reputation as a complex wordsmith, a conscious rapper who isn’t afraid to speak what’s on his mind, and above all, a BIG FAT NERD. This is not Lupe’s first time getting covered in DTC (See “Lightwork” and “Lupe Back”), and it will definitely not be his last. From Tetsuo‘s Metal Gear Solid (“Adoration of the Magi”) and Breaking Bad (“Deliver”) lines to the numerous anime references throughout his career, Lupe is well-versed at all things geek. The quotable we are focusing on today is this gem from the album opener “Mural,” referring to Marvel’s Gambit.

Gifted with the ability to transfer kinetic energy to physical objects, Remy LaBeau was created by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee during their early 90’s run on X-Men. Gambit aligns himself with the good guys, but he isn’t necessarily referred to as a “good guy.” Remy’s past is a murky one; raised by a roaming band of thieves, he never knew any life but the streets, and robbing to survive was never a strange concept to him. He became notoriously good at thieving, fighting and cheating – I mean, it’s no coincidence that his arsenal of choice includes playing cards. However, Gambit’s “gift,” his mutant powers, kept him from fitting in with the group of criminals which were the closest thing to a family. If they were to find out, they would reject him – think he was a freak and would not understand his unique skill-set, or how it could benefit the Thieves’ Guild.

His eventual fall from grace in the group came in the form of a betrayal in the name of doing the right thing (Weapon X: First Class 2008), where he refused to give Nathaniel Essex (Mr. Sinister in disguise) old diaries and logs from the Weapon X program, he destroyed the documents to keep them out of dangerous hands. Gambit’s good will would continue to outweigh his past life of crime with altruistic acts like rescuing a young pre-Storm Ororo from The Shadow King (Uncanny X-Men, 1990). After joining the X-Men, his charm and hard work were enough to convince most of the team that he was on the right side, but hatin’ ass haters like Wolverine continued to ride him twice as hard as everyone else because he didn’t trust that Gambit was telling the truth about his past.

If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Every kid from the inner-city is threatened with the same treatment that Gambit got when joining the X-Men. In order for the kids in this environment to use their natural “gifts” to their full potential, whether they be intellectual or physical, there’s usually an inevitable separation from home that happens. For many, this could mean going to a better school or moving to a new city for a job; no matter the case, keeping true to yourself can become exponentially harder when those around you judge you for who you used to be. Even worse is trying to explain to those you called family that you don’t belong with them anymore. At the end of the day, joining the X-Men is a better life choice than the Thieves’ Guild, but that didn’t make it any easier for Remy to turn his back on them.

 

Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo and Youth Review

Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth Review

Album Specs

Tracks/Length: 16 tracks, 78:27

Notable Guest Appearances: Nikki Jean (“Little Death,” “No Scratches,” and “Madonna”), Guy Sebastian (“Blur My Hands”), Ab-Soul (“T.R.O.N.”)

Album Genre/Tone: Conscious rap, heavy on instrumentals and complex lyrics

Lead Single: Numerous songs that never made the album. Surprise! However, “Old School Love” was probably the most recognizable.

Purchase on Amazon.

 

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Pretty much the best eargasm you’ve ever experienced. This is the album you will be listening to when you are sixty and your grandchildren will be judging you for.

A: All you need to appreciate this album is two ears connected to a heart. Whether it’s the deeper message, the prolific beats or memorable lyrics, everybody should be listening to this record.

B: If you like the genre, then you will love this album. You might keep it on repeat for a month, but it will eventually find itself in the bowels of your shuffle list. Hardcore fans of the artist will disagree with this rating, but it can be considered more niche than universally acceptable.

C: There are a solid tracks, but it’s really only worth a few rotations as a complete package. Those not into the genre probably shouldn’t even bother. It’s the musical equivalent of a sad handjob.

DThis album fails, in most aspects, to make a good or lasting impression. However, some out there might find joy in it, if even for only a few songs. 

F: The only thing this album is good for is to make your ears bleed. You should steal every copy of this album and throw them all into a fire for a sacrifice ceremony meant to disband the demons living in the CD. And I say steal because it is obviously not worth the money. Or it would make a great gift for your enemies.

 

History Behind the Album

Lupe Fiasco is no stranger to controversy. Through the last few years, various Twitter beefs (whether they were actually full of animosity or not) and off-putting political comments have made Lupe somewhat of an outcast in the Hip Hop community. Even us here at Hush, who have been Friends of the People since “Touch the Sky” were beginning to waver in our support for the Chicago artist after the years of oddity. Hell, we even put our The Cool-themed group tattoo on hold. Lupe had become bigger than the words he spit, but rather he became the voice of the people. That’s a heavy burden for anybody in their late 20’s (he is now 32) to carry, especially when he was having to fight his own label, Atlantic Records, to put out the same music that got him that acclaim in the first place.

The relationship Lupe had with Atlantic was a doomed one from the start. Inked in 2005, Lupe signed at a time when the era of pushing an artist to create quality albums was coming to a close – just before the explosion of independent artists, viral video A&R and the comeback of one-hit wonders would become norm for the industry. What followed were outcries of apathy and angst surrounded the release of the albums that followed The Cool, openly accepted as modern day classics in the Hip-Hop community for anybody with two ears connected to a brain. Lasers and The Great American Rap Album had some solid tracks that are still on rotation, but you could almost feel the heart soul that was missing from the records; plus, the depression of being enslaved to his record label, Atlantic Records, had begun to affect his passion for making music. It was like they took away his voice – and just left his Instrumental.

Fast forward to Tetsuo & Youth, the highly anticipated, and LAST album on Lupe’s contract. While the album has been shrouded in mystery (and nearly a year of release delays), Lupe has released upwards of ten tracks in steady of the delays – most notably of which, “Old School Love,” was a radio-made hit with blooming sensation Ed Sheeran. Strangely enough, none of these tracks compiled in the past year and some change made the cut. None of the features (Rick Ross, Big K.R.I.T., Chris Brown) made the album, either. Was this Lupe just reverting further into his shell or was he just starting from scratch? Lupe might be bruised from all his attacks, but in order to shut critics up, he needs to do it with his music, not through Twitter. I’m betting One Ring to Rule Them All that Lupe can get back to his super-lyrical roots and unabashed social commentary that made him beloved on his first album, close the gates of Mordor and return to the Shire with Tetsuo & Youth.

 

What You’re in For

After four studio albums and witnessing the rise and fall of Lupe Fiasco, Tetsuo & Youth may be the the most appropriate way for Lupe to break free of Atlantic Records and show the world what is to come. With Tetsuo & Youth being his fifth studio album, it is quite possible that Hip-Hop is seeing Lupe for who he truly wants to be as an artist. With his first two albums, I believe we saw the Lupe who wanted to enter Hip-Hop strong and produced track off of the life he knew. Contrasting to his first two albums, the next two appeared to be a Lupe who lost passion due to contract restraints which in turn forced a misrepresentation of character.  However, this album shows Lupe’s balance. Be wary though, this album is not for individuals looking for street jamz, protest music, or simple lyrics. Tetsuo & Youth is pretty much an entire album of “Dumb it Down”-esque songs. If you don’t like to think when listening to music, then this is not for you; however, do not let that deter you from the quality it offers.

Above all, the word that would describe Lupe on this album is “comfortable.” There is no more need for him to be the young kid he was, or the outspoken conscious rapper he came to be. He has matured and I believe is finally allowing fans to view his “art.” Tetsuo & Youth offers a mixture of street and conscious tracks like, “They.Resurrect.Over.New (TRON)” which speaks upon substance abuse, and “Prisoner 1&2,” a track that outlines the similarities of prisoners and guards – how they are both trapped. The soulful “Little Death” featuring long-time collaborator Nikki Jean is another reason that this album excels at being Lupe, while still offering something new to long-time fans. The album is not without its missteps, though, as the lead single (of songs that actually made the album) “Deliver” takes a promising concept and makes it all too literal, which can be hard to take seriously. Also, the group track “Chopper” is nearly nine minutes of entirely forgettable and misplaced features with artists that do not deserve to share a track with Lupe; what happened to All-City Chess Club (Asher Roth, B.o.B, The Cool Kids, Blu, J. Cole and others)?

Overall, the theme of Tetsuo seasons plays very well into the flow of the album, with the songs getting progressively “darker,” before getting more and more hopeful towards the tail-end tracks. Tetsuoa & Youth is the most complex and complete records that I have heard in years, and the fact that there is a whole other (FREE!) mixtape full of other tracks that did not make the album make this a subtle win for fans everywhere. After announcing that “ATLANTIC RECORDS won’t release the album until they get a ‘pop’ single” on his Instagram, it’s clear here that Lupe Fiasco is getting the last laugh with the record label that has tried to stunt his growth for years as he releases an album with no discernible “pop song” to fulfill their quota. Maybe Atlantic is tired of the struggle, or perhaps Lupe has pulled the wool over Atlantic’s eyes and has not yet seen the fallout from his actions; either way, the risk was worth it.

Songs On Repeat

“Blur My Hands” featuring Guy Sebastian

Lyrics to Go: “Were you just being polite with your hands?/And it really means I’m number one, and you’re a fan/Well that’s cool, cause I think you’re number one too”

If you don’t analyze the lyrics in this track, there is a good chance the whole concept will go over your head. However, once you understand exactly what Lupe is saying, the creativity is pure genius. This could be the greatest anti-hater track since “Dirt Off Your Shoulders.” To put a positive spin on the negativity and ill-will Lupe Fiasco gets (and let’s be honest, he gets a LOT), Lu imagines that all those middle fingers sent his way are just a unique way of telling him that he is number one? All of the middle fingers Lupe received, both literal and metaphorical, this whole time were they really just another way of saying, “Hey Lupe, you are number one, man!”

 

“Dots and Lines”

Lyrics to Go: “And your reflection is your connection to more collections of more directions and paths/If your reflection is a mask, then you’re reflective of mass”

Did you think Lupe Fiasco’s dislike for Atlantic Records had piqued? You would be wrong. Although many of his tracks focus on Atlantic, “Dots & Lines” may be the most telling. This song is a warning to future artists looking to find a record deal. The track explains how Lupe wishes he wouldn’t have signed the contract which took away half the person he is, and how he is counting down the days until he once again becomes an independent artist. Witnessing Lupe lose some of his creative freedom throughout his career has hurt both himself and his fans. It’s hard to listen to his second studio album, The Cool, and then his third studio album, Lasers, and believe they came from the same mind. The technical rhyme scheme and intricacy wasn’t apparent anymore. Yet, this has all changed after hearing this album. In order to understand “Dots & Lines,” you have to have a basic knowledge of mathematics. That’s how you know you’re listening to a Lupe Fiasco song – when you have to explain his lyrics using trigonometry. It’s obvious Lupe Fiasco covets nothing more than to be free of his contract, and if he plans to continue to make songs like these, then I hope he never signs another contract again.

 

“They.Resurrect.Over.New” featuring Ab-Soul & Tori

Lyrics to Go: “Medusa in the go/’Fore Versace turned words in to turquoise/Medusa turned coke into stone/With a hand on her thigh, she looked me in the eye and said/Proceed to the next level”

Only Lupe can create an entire song about drug use and have you so confused you think the song is about video games. If Eminem is a Rap God, that would make Lupe Fiasco Galileo. Only Lupe will make you want to sit down and read his lyrics just to try to understand what is happening. In case you were wondering, that is exactly what happened with, “They.Resurrect.Over.New (T.R.O.N.).” This is perhaps the most beautiful way to see the combination of “street” Lupe, and “activist” Lupe.  This song shows you that gritty side of the streets through a poets tongue. “TRON”  is Lupe demonstrating the artist he truly is. I believe with songs such as theses, we are witnessing the artist Lupe wants to be. Whether you see this song being about substance abuse or gateway drugs or how to proceed to the next level in Tron, this song will blow (haaa… get it?) your mind.

 

The Quick and Dirty

Grade: B

Most Hip Hop artists get credit for making this rap thing look easier; well, Lupe Fiasco gets credit for making rapping look very, very difficult. The rhyme scheme Lupe uses is most like a lyrical jigsaw puzzle, one that takes hours of attention to even hint at seeing the bigger picture. Tetsuo & Youth is not just an intellectually superior album, but one that musically complements the analytical style of rhymes that can be a little hard to digest at times. The beauty of each track’s instrumentals, coupled with the overall uplifting tone of the album, gives off the impression that Wasalu Jaco is finally at a place where he wants to be. Regardless of his troubles on social media, he has at least found peace on the mic, and the result is gorgeous.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Evan Lowe

 

Diggin’ Through the Crates: RZA “We Pop”

Song: “We Pop”

Artist: RZA Ft. Division & Ol’ Dirty Bastard

AlbumBirth of a Prince (2003)

Lyric: “I cock arm, pass the bomb, like Troy Aikman/Play the basement like Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.”

 

Character Reference/Meaning:

Welcome back DTCers! Hope you all had a fantastic 4th of July. Over at Hush headquarters, we celebrated the great Red, White, and Nerd! Let’s keep it going, shall we? This week’s DTC features a repeat rapper, the one, the only, the RZA. This track comes off of his 3rd solo studio album and brings with it not only a powerful message, but some supreme nerdiness as well. Like all rap artists, RZA strives for success (he already found it if y’all didn’t know), and in order to be successful you have to make it happen. If you are to become one of the greats and have little boys and girls listening to your hits when you are long past, you have to do one thing. Work. If you don’t put in the work, and have no dedication to your craft, then no one will respect it. That is exactly what RZA expressed in this so skillfully executed nerdy comic reference.

Since 1989, or even before, RZA has been dedicated to his craft. He has put in the work from day one and look at all it has gotten him: multiple albums, countless soundtrack features, tons of features on albums and has been named one of the top music producers according to Vibe, NME, and The Source. RZA has also showed us his acting and directing chops in various films. If you people out there don’t think RZA is neither a star nor a nerd, just Google “RZA” and “Afro Samurai” together, and let all your doubts fade way with your embarrassment for being so foolish. It’s easy to see that RZA is a nerd simply based on this lyric. He doesn’t say “Batman and Robin;” he uses their secret identities. If you know secret identities, then you may be a nerd – congratulations.

RZA understands the importance of having a solid work ethic. Regardless of what you do, if you don’t do it with conviction and dedication, someone who is putting in the work will pass you any day now. Regardless if you are writing the next big comic book, or starting to write your first rhyme, you should strive to be hall of fame quality. You need to be Troy Aikman in a sense, and put everything you have into that one pass. Give your heart and soul into your work, and the work will speak for itself. As you all know RZA goes hard in the paint and truly shows off his craft by using a skillful comic book reference. Most rappers starting out, or even today find their basement to be the base of operations. With eggshell cartons lining the wall, and pantyhose over the microphone, the basement becomes a true recording studio. For aspiring artists on the come up, that basement is the Batcave. In Gotham, if there was no Batcave, would there be a Batman and Robin? If the answer is yes, would they be as effective as they are? Every person, despite the craft, needs a place to make the greatness happen. Batman and Robin have the Batcave, Superman has the Fortress of Solitude, Iron Man has the Stark Tower, and RZA has the recording studio. Similar to the Batcave, the infamous basement recording studio is both out of sight, and underground… I see what you did there RZA, I see it. If you aren’t working hard when you are out of sight and out of mind, then dedication isn’t part of your skill set. Because if you do work hard, who knows, you could be the next RZA, you could be the next Bruce Wayne, you could be the next Dick Grayson. Work hard, do what you do, and make the basement proud!