A Tribe Called Quest, reworking of Fantastic Four #49 (April 1966), “If This Be Doomsday!”
The Silver Surfer must choose between his master and the Earth
Not long ago an artist going by the name Beddo released a whole bunch of lovingly recreated classic Marvel covers featuring some of the greatest rap artists of the 1980s and 1990s. Beddo says that there are more on the way, and it is devoutly to be hoped that he stands by his word.
Notorious B.I.G., reworking of Spider-Man #50 (July 1967), “Spiderman No More!’
First appearance of Kingpin
Many more of these great mashups after the jump…...
By 1991, even the most retrograde of old fogies was starting to suspect that rap music was not going away anytime soon. Advertisers began mining it for every bit of cultural capital they could, and soon hip-hop would be used to sell everything from breakfast cereal to high fashion. It became shorthand for “relevant,” and a nifty cultural touchstone that was sure to resonate with the youth… right? “Cutting-edge” and “hopelessly dated” are not mutually exclusive categories—a lot of groundbreaking things simply look silly in retrospect. Dan Aykroyd’s Nothing but Trouble however, was just completely, unjustifiably bad from the beginning.
The Razzie-winning box office bomb actually had a lot going for it in terms of star-power. In addition to John Candy and Demi Moore, Aykroyd was just coming off the Ghostbusters sequel, and Chevy Chase had finished his final National Lampoon’s Vacation movie. Unfortunately Aykroyd’s success may have have burdened him with a bit of artistically unproductive hubris. He directed the film, co-wrote the screenplay with his brother and co-starred in the movie (almost never a good sign). For a little perspective, this was a movie with the $40 million budget—massive for that time—and the box office take didn’t even reach $8.5 million.
Aykroyd also decided that Oakland hip-hop group Digital Underground (you know, the guys who did “The Humpty Dance”) could spice up the movie with a musical number—with Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase’s ultra-white guy characters as the enthusiastic audience. Most notably, this means a cameo by a young Tupac Shakur in the most undignified role of his short life. I’d be absolutely shocked if anyone predicted a future in music for Shakur based on this performance—it’s literally one of the worst moments in hip-hop history.
San Antonio-based artist and hair stylist Roberto Perez AKA Rob The Original creates these pretty nutty haircuts with the scalp as a blank canvas and a photo of the subject to work off of for reference.
A lot of Rob’s subjects crafted on heads are of pop stars, sports stars and reality TV dum-dums (none of which I care about). I did, however, find of few of his works I really dig like Salvador Dalí, Bruce Lee, Cesar Chavez and a few others. I’d imagine the two dudes who got the Cheech & Chong hairdos would always have to stand together though, because it would be rather confusing to onlookers if they were separated with just a Tommy Chong on the one head. Where’s Cheech, dammit?!
I would also like to see these haircuts after two weeks of hair regrowth. Do they all turn into the Wolfman? I mean Tupac as the Wolfman would be kinda of hilarious and inexplicable to sport on yer head, no? You’d still have a lot of explaining to do.
Couple of years back I reviewed Yale’s commendable The Anthology of Rap. I was mostly nice about it (it was a decent selection), but the truth was that it wasn’t much fun to sit and read rap lyrics. Which is not to say that rap lyrics ain’t good (sometimes they’re phenomenal), or that they don’t deserve greater scrutiny and appreciation than they typically receive. It was just that isolating them on paper was not a very suitable approach—delivery being just too large a part of the art form to do away with.
Anyhow, I’ve been rummaging through rap acapellas online for the last couple of days, and have found it a far more rewarding pursuit—this may well be the best way of honing in on hip hop as a genre of live literature. If you haven’t listened to many acapellas yourself, and are a hip hop fan, you might well enjoy the following vintage selection.
We’ll start with Biggie’s “Hypnotize” This really lays bare Biggie’s unusually sensuous ear: as an acapella, his very delicate sound patterns are much more overt (a definite synaesthete, Biggie, I’d say):
Next, a batch of the available acapellas from Nas’s immortal Illmatic: “One Love,” “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” and “Life’s a Bitch” (with AZ). Great in a thousand-odd ways, obviously:
It’s impossible to resist including a Tupac acapella (“Tupacapella”?) in such canonical nineties company—“Thug Style.” Thus exposed, the rhyme scheme, although less artful and sensuous than Biggie or Nas’s, in fact proves surprisingly dense (I’m not usually a big Tupac listener):
Finally, a couple of the more celebrated scientists of rhyme, Big Punisher and Kool G Rap: the former’s “Dream Shatterer” and the latter’s “Fast Life” (which also enable us to hear more from the young Nas).