Hip-Hop artists and superheroes share more in common than you might expect. Both have compelling origin stories, answer to multiple aliases, and most importantly have certain skills which distinguish them from regular people.
It seems the perpetual stereotype of comic book fans being the pimple-faced nerd in the back of class may be a thing of the past, as we count down the top 15 Hip Hop Artists with Superhero Alter-Egos.
15 Ja Rule - Loki
2006 was a tough year for Ja Rule. 50 Cent basically ended his career via numerous diss tracks, his label was forced to change it’s name from Murder Inc. to clean up its image, and his clothing line was shut down for stealing customers' money. How did Ja Rule plan to get out of this rut? By doing the only sensible thing and changing his name to Loki, brother of Thor and son of Odin. He even got the name tattooed across his stomach before announcing plans to release an album as Loki to kickstart his new image.
In relation to the album, "Loki" said:
It’s going to be very controversial, the things i say on it. It’s no-holds-barred. Loki’s not politically correct, he’s a person who speaks for the little people, all the people in the hood, all the minorities; that’s who Loki represents.
Unfortunately, the name change was short lived and the Loki album was never released. It’s a shame, it would have been interesting to hear what the god of mischief had to say.
14 Bruce Waynne - Batman
A member of the Midi Mafia music production duo, Waynne Nugent took up the mantle of Bruce Waynne as his professional alter-ego. Growing up in Brooklyn, Waynne is no stranger to dangerous streets. While Batman would be beating baddies as the Caped Crusader, Waynne preferred to spend his night creating beats.
The duo gained fame after producing 50 Cent’s hit "21 Questions," and have gone on to produce hits for the likes of Justin Bieber, Nelly, Frank Ocean and Childish Gambino. In a kind of Marvel/DC crossover, Bruce Waynne is signed to Elektra Records. It’d be interesting to live in a universe where Batman works for Elektra…oh wait, we do!
13 Slick Pulla - Bobby Drake (Iceman)
Slick Pulla is a rapper from Atlanta signed to Young Jeezy’s CTE. Since his debut in 2004, Pulla has been referring to himself as “Young Bobby Drake,” bragging about the massive amounts of expensive jewellery, or "ice," that he has. While Iceman can freeze objects and turn his body into ice, Pulla makes do with his watches and chains.
Pulla is even photoshopped as Iceman on the cover of his 2010 Mixtape ‘The Bobby Drake Chronicles’ where he proceeds to produce frosty cold rhymes like this:
It’s Bobby Drake, the ice will amaze ya. I got a blizzard round my neck, round my wrist is a glacier.
We’re not sure how much Iceman would approve of Slick’s behaviour though, seeing as he was arrested and jailed in 2007 for weapons charges. It seems if Slick did live in the Marvel Universe, he may be running from Iceman rather than becoming him.
12 Jean Grae - Jean Grey
Tsidi Ibrahim began her career in 1996 as part of a collective called “Natural Resources,” going by the ever-confusing name "What? What?" After becoming disenchanted with the control of the big studios over her art, she left the group and took on the moniker Jean Grae - a deliberate tribute to the X-Men superhero Jean Grey.
Jean Grey’s superpowers of telekinesis and telepathy inspire Grae’s confrontational rap style. She explores her inner self in a light that is not always positive, in order to find the truth of her actions and emotions. Grae battles with the different personas that come with being a woman, much like Jean Grey battles with the cosmic Phoenix Force.
As of writing this, Jean Grae is still single. Maybe we should set her up on a date with the next entry on our list...
11 Skott Summerz - Scott Summers (Cyclops)
Not much is known about British rapper Skott Summerz. He keeps a relatively quiet web presence, but has a dedicated and loyal fan base in his native country. Summerz adopted the name of the X-Men leader in secondary school, where his peers bestowed the nickname upon him. Summerz even wears a stylised pair of red-tinted sunglasses, embracing the Cyclops persona.
A name and a pair of glasses aren't the only similarities between the rapper and the X-Men leader. Cyclops is often depicted as the archetypal hero, fighting for justice, peace and equality. Summerz has endeavoured to follow in his fictional namesake's footsteps, as he is currently campaigning on Indiegogo to raise $60,000 to bring clean water to Zanzibar. Cyclops would be proud.
10 J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League - The Justice League
The Grammy award-winning production team J.U.S.T.I.C.E League (Just Undeniably Some of The Illest Composers Ever) are comprised of Rook, Colione and Barto. Just like DC's iconic Justice League group, the production team are the best in the business, fighting off bad music instead of super villains.
At the start of their songs, the team even has a female voice echoing the words "Justice League," to call them to the rescue. Having created countless hits with big time artists like Rick Ross, Nas, 2 Chainz, Drake and Lil' Wayne, J.U.S.T.I.CE. League have definitely done their part to defend the integrity of the hip-hop industry.
9 DJ Green Lantern - Green Lantern
A New York native just like the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, James D'Agostino took the mantle of DJ Green Lantern at the beginning of his career. Without any assistance from the Lantern Corps, he has shown super hero-level production skills, working with artists like Ludacris, Eminem and The Game.
With his trademark inventive remixes, there is no doubt D'Agostino has a great imagination, so it would be interesting to see what he could construct with a lantern ring. D'Agostino does refer to himself as hip-hop's "evil genius," so it may be more fitting if he were a member of the Sinestro Corps.
8 DJ Clark Kent - Superman
Another DJ named after a DC Comics legend, Rodolfo Franklin assumed the alias of DJ Clark Kent to help get his career off the ground. Alongside his crew (aptly named The Supermen) he has proven himself to be the Superman of rap, working with megastars like The Notorious BIG, Jay Z and 50 Cent.
While he might not be able to fly like his comic book namesake, he makes sure he's always looking fly, as he's often seen wearing custom kryptonite and Superman-themed Nikes. Let's hope the kryptonite shoes don't effect him on the turntables!
7 Mr. Peter Parker - Spiderman
Spiderman is known for spinning his webs around Manhattan, but Mr. Peter Parker has been spinning discs on the radio for over ten years. Currently working in Cleveland on 107.9 FM, Mr. Peter Parker has produced mixtapes for huge stars like Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole and Big Sean.
A huge comics fan, Mr. Peter Parker adopted the name as a reference to the way he spins the discs. Parker's exclusive interviews have also led to talks with TV executives to host his own show. The DJ must have channeled some of Spidey's trademark wit and sense of humour (as well as those ever-handy spidey senses) to help him along the way with his career!
6 6 . MF Doom - Dr. Doom
The most intriguing artist on this list might be Daniel Dumile, a British rapper who goes by the name Metal Face Doom. Inspired by Marvel's Victor Von Doom, Dumile wears a Dr. Doom-style mask on stage while he performs his unique lyrics, using his super villain persona. Dr. Doom is known for being a master inventor and Dumile mirrors this, crafting his own beats for the majority of his projects.
In an interview with Vice, MF Doom had this to say about his name:
The MF DOOM character is really a combination of all villains throughout time. The classic villain with the mask—Phantom of the Opera-style. Of course there's a little twist of Dr. Doom in there, even a little Destro from GI Joe. It's an icon of American culture. I kinda made it a mish-mash of all the villains together, and my last name is Dumile, so everyone used to call me "Doom" anyway. It's a parody of all the villains.
Dr. Doom wouldn't like being parodied, though he might still enjoy MF Doom's representation more than the latest Fantastic Four movie.
5 David Banner - The Hulk
A Graduate of Southern University, Lavell Crump is certainly more like David Banner than the Hulk. After leaving his Master's degree program to pursue a career in the music industry, Crump was inspired by The Incredible Hulk TV series and adopted the pseudonym. Don't worry, we know the comic character is named Bruce Banner — in the original television series, Bruce was renamed David due to the studios worries that the alliterative name wouldn't convert well to television.
Banner has certainly proven himself a hulking figure in the music industry, working with other giants like Lil' Wayne, Snoop Dogg and Chris Brown. While he's not a member of The Avengers, Banner is a social activist who has won the Visionary Award in recognition for his work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Just like in the comics, it seems the two personas couldn't be further apart - while Hulk is causing havoc in cities around the world, David Banner is working to mend one.
4 Kitty - Kitty Pryde
While she can't phase through objects, Kathryn Beckwith kind of fell into rap. While working in Florida for a comedy hip-hop group, she was scouted by rapper Riff Raff, and together they collaborated on a single, "Orion's belt." Beckwith took up the alter-ego of X-Men member Kitty Pryde to begin her rap career.
Unfortunately for comic fans, in 2014, Beckwith dropped the "Pryde" and now just goes by Kitty. In a Reddit AMA, Kitty stated the reason was that she didn't want to keep annoying X-Men fans by not meeting their expectations, and also didn't want to seem as if she was playing a character.
3 Big Pun - Punisher
Renowned for his technical lyrical efficiency and tongue twisting multisyllabic rhyming, Christopher Rios is a rap legend. Better known by his stage name Big Pun (Short for Big Punisher), Rios admired the ruthlessness and brutality of Marvel's Punisher. While Frank Castle showed his violence through brute force, Big Pun's violence was channeled through his songs with lines like:
I shatter dreams like Jordan, assault and batter your team, your squadron'll be barred from rap like Adam and Eve from the garden, I'm carving my initials on your forehead, so every night before bed you see the BP shine off the board head.
When adding the Big to his name, Pun wasn't joking. He weighed in at a whopping 700 pounds when he died due to heart failure at the tender age of 28. It sounds like Big Pun could have used some military training from the Punisher.
2 Ghostface Killah aka. Tony Starks - Tony Stark (Iron Man)
A member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface has rapped under many aliases throughout his decorated career. The most frequently used were Iron Man and Tony Starks, showing his love for the Marvel Comics billionaire. Ghostface was so enamored with his superhero alter-ego that he named his debut album Ironman.
An achievement that no one else on this list shares is that Ghostface Killah actually wrote a song "Slept on Tony With Dirt," which was used in the 2008 Ironman movie. He even made a cameo in the film, which you can check out on the Blu Ray as a deleted scene.
1 Method Man - Johnny Blaze (Ghost Rider)
Rounding out our list is another member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man. From the tender age of 8, Method Man has been a avid Marvel Comic's reader, enjoying favourites like X-Men, Iron Man and Ghost Rider. It was a natural progression for one of his aliases to relate to these iconic characters, and he chose Johnny Blaze.
When Marvel.com asked him about what comic he would like to write, Method Man said:
It would have to be a character I fully understand. I would go with Ghost Rider, man...Because I understand the ins and outs of that character and the battle between hell and earth...The way the book began showing Ghost Rider escape Hell...Trying to escape.
Method Man connects to the character so deeply because in becoming a rapper, he was able to escape from his own personal hell, the streets. Method Man aka Johnny Blaze may not be able to shoot hellfire, but his flaming hot lyrics have helped make him one of the greatest rappers ever.
Do you agree with this list? Are there any other notable artists with super hero alter-egos that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!