The “Hip Hop and Comics: A Dynamic Duo” panel opened with the tunes of The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dog, and Ye (Formerly Kanye West). The panel, comprised of comic and Hip Hop aficionados E, Leftyfesto, Mequa, Misa, and Cuban Ghost, discussed the similarities between rap music and comic books.
Cuban Ghost called the panel “really a celebration” and noted that, like Hip Hop, “the creators of a lot of the early comics come out of minority groups.” He turned next to the Superman issue where he fights Muhammad Ali, boxer and musical artist, saying it was an early intersection between comics and Black music. “Know who won that fight?” It was Ali.
The panel listed early rappers inspired by Hip Hop: Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash, and DJ Kool Herc who were all “drawing from comics.” The “first” mainstream rap song, “Rapper’s Delight,” references Superman, the “first” mainstream superhero.
Another parallel was graffiti culture in rap, which was compared to the lettering of comic books, both of which “just really attract your eye” with big text and bright colors. Like rappers, Superheroes also come in duos and gangs- The Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang, and NWA were paralleled with The Justice League, Watchmen, and The X-Men, and use alter egos. MF Doom, the “villain” of rap, Nicki Minaj, whose alter ego “Roman” is iconic, and Kanye West, who has worn masks throughout his career, were pointed out.
The idea of rap “beef” and hero-villain conflicts were analyzed, with pairs like Jay-Z and DMX and Ye and Drake having extreme, comic-esque feuds. Symbols were another similarity: the ubiquitous icons of Wu-Tang Clan and Batman were discussed.
The panel quizzed the audience, putting rap lyrics that referenced comics on screen: the songs were “Clique” by Kanye West, “Award Tour” by Tribe Called Quest, “Protect Ya Neck” by Wu-Tang Clan, and “Apollo Kids” by Ghostface Killah.
Finally, the panel asked what rappers superheroes would enjoy. Superman was said to be an Eminem fan by the crowd. Batman was deemed a fan of darker rap.
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