Art that Imitates Art that Imitates (Hip-hop) Life
In Hip-hop, we always find ourselves compiling lists of which artist or which album we personally consider to be the best the conversations in sidewalks and barber shops would rage on for hours on end and in comics, it's no different. So, for hip-hop week, Here is a quick little list of Marvel’s Hip-Hop Variants that I found to be the dopest, along with brief explanations of the albums in question.
After you read this list, I ready for any and all clap backs. Show me your Top 5!
5. SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #1 [ERIC B & RAKIM - Paid in Full]
Eric B & Rakim dropped this classic album in July of 1987. Rakim stands as number 1 on my top 5 MCs list for the fact that he is the marking point for every rapper before him and every rapper after him. Paired Eric B’s breakbeats and turntable skills he quickly became regarded as one of the best to ever do it... kinda like Spidey and Deadpool. But I’m sure Pete would beg to differ.
4. ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #1 [DMX - Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood]
DMX’s sophomore release in December of 1998 quickly debuted at the top of the Billboard charts at no. 1 and made DMX the first hip-hop artist to have not only 2 albums at no. 1 but also 2 platinum albums released within a year of each other. The Dog from Yonkers brought to the mainstream a rough and rugged sound that is signature to his style of delivery. I love this variant cover because of the symbolism of Laura Kinney’s relationship to Logan. Flesh of my Flesh can easily be interpreted as her being Wolverine’s clone and her covered in blood is also in link to Wolverine’s blood soaked past.
3. THE MIGHTY THOR #1 [MADVILLAIN - Madvillainy]
The group, Madvillain, is comprised of MC MF DOOM and producer Madlib. Their album, Madvillainy, in some circles, is considered to be an underground hip-hop gem. I agree. This album, while having no real narrative, played out like a Sunday newspaper comic strip. Each track self contained. Short tracks that felt like the Boondocks meets the Fantastic Four. But Doctor Doom.
2. CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #1 [GZA - Liquid Swords]
LIQUID SWORDS can be placed on a pedestal of contention for greatest hip-hop album of all time. Beginning the album with an excerpt from the old kung-fu flick, Shogun Assassin, this album is the pinnacle of the Wu-Tang sound. And if THAT isn't enough, the original album cover was a whole elaborate game of chess drawn by none other than Denys Cowan himself! One of my favorite tracks on here is “Shadowboxin’” feat. Method Man. We actually used a sample from this song in our podcast intro. (Shout out to Fortune!)
SPIDER-MAN #1 [NAS - Illmatic]
Okay, you know what i said about Liquid Swords? This, in more circles than not, IS considered the GREATEST HIP-HOP albums of all time. It features the superimposed image of a young Nasir Jones over the backdrop of Queensbridge. For years, the Halftime Headringer was compared to Webslinger. 2 kids from queens. An undying love for their home of New York. 2 regular kids who did extraordinary things at a young age. So the symbolism to pass on the torch to a young Miles Morales and give the kid the ILLMATIC treatment should speak volumes for Marvel’s faith in the young Spider-Man’s future.