Every rapper fancies themself a super-hero, or in some cases, a villain. Ask Jean Grae, DJ Clark Kent, Tony Starks or MF Doom. Theyâ€™ve got the fancy cars, the cool names, and the never-ending adventures running through their careers. How better then to proclaim your allegiance to the world of comics than through album cover art?
Some comic-inspired covers evoke Marvel and DC circa the â€˜70s and â€˜80s; others blur the line between graf, Sunday funnies and alternative comics; some are just plain awful. But there is no denying the influence of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, their brethren and their offspring on the hip-hop generation. Though not generally acknowledged, rap owes as much to comics as kung-fu flicks and gangster movies. But that’s the genius of hip hop: a new culture created through amalgamating bits and pieces of the outside world.
And just as comics transport you to a fantasy world of imagination and violence, rap aspires to do the same – with a healthy dose of sex and drugs added, of course. Escape is escape, whether itâ€™s in the pages of the X-Men or between headphones blasting Operation: Doomsday.
Afrika Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force – Renegades of Funk! & Del the Funky Homosapien – No Need for Alarm & Outkast – ATLiens
Proof positive that cats of all generations love Marvel comics — from 1984 with Bambaataa and Soul Sonic to the ATL with Outkast and Del in Oaktown. An interesting note: Bam and crew are actually dressed like super-heroes, and somewhat skittle happy ones at that. From the â€˜90s to now, as evidenced by Big Boi, Andre 3000 and Del, that shit don’t play.
MF Doom – Operation: Doomsday and Special Herbs
Metal Face deserves his own mention for single-handedly repping Marvel as hard and shamelessly as possible. MF Doom is Doctor Doom, at least on records and record covers. From the name, to the mask, to the endless Fantastic Four TV show samples, to the use of his alter ego’s name (Victor Von Doom), there’s no mistaking the idolatry. While Doomsday at least uses original artwork, Doom straight-up jacks F.F. panels for his instrumental series, Special Herbs.
Digital Underground â€“ Dowhutchalike and Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle
Here we have two West Coast artists that steal both beats and inspiration from Parliament Funkadelic, but go about doing so in very different ways. D.U. literally follows in Parliament’s footsteps with their cartoon cover. Snoop (and Dre) jack their beats, then get Snoop’s cousin, or whoever “drew” it, to “bless” his debut’s cover. But wait, there’s more! The liner notes feature a comic by the cover-artist, which is also awful, but somehow endearing. And the comic introduced me to the term “hocus pocus,” meaning weed-bullshit. It has far greater meaning and usage, though. Say you’re running late for work and the bus pulls away as you reach the door. That’s hocus pocus, nawimean?