Written by LaZedrick Blackshire | @blusatire
(Featured Artwork Credit to @The_Wright_Artist)
As one of the resident nerds of Cosign, my love for music is only challenged by my love for all things nerd culture. So when they both collide, you know I spazz out. There have been many times when music and hip-hop were inspired by video games, comics, anime, and vice versa. Its refreshing to see two sides of culture complement each other. Here are 5 times Nerd Culture and hip intertwined.
The Boondocks Meets Anime
One of the most controversial and funny satirical shows of our time had many hip hop elements. One overlooked thing aspect of the show that a non-anime fan would not catch is the fight scenes of the show. Many of the fight scenes use the same choreography from anime like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Naruto. Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo are also heavily influenced by music, mainly hip-hop and jazz.
Persona Series Musical influence
Shin Megami Tensei’s Persona 5 has recently become one of the most iconic JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games) to hit the market. It has always been a visual and artistic masterpiece in its own as well as gameplay that allows you to live in the life of a student in Japan and learn about the culture. What caught my ear was the intro to the game, singing and rapping in Japanese that sounded sonically amazing. Imagine having theme music to your life, the Persona games infused hip-hop, pop, rock and R&B with gameplay. Even when you are fighting monsters, a catchy song is in the background, or when you are walking around. I never played a game before, where I would take my time just to listen to the music.
Wiz Khalifa Samples Chrono Trigger
In 2010, a newcomer in the rap game released one of the most highly anticipated mixtapes in recent times. “Kush and OJ” was a classic and many still rave about this being Wiz’s best project and style. One song caught my attention because I thought to myself, “I heard this before”. Wiz’s never been was a very different type of beat, with the instrumental using many sounds that sounded mesmerizing and unorthodox. Then it hit me. Never been uses a sample from the Super Nintendo’s rag, Chrono Trigger, which is often regarded as one of the best games of all time. Chrono Trigger has one of the best video game soundtracks I’ve heard, and Wiz’s production team had to have played it a couple of times because they made another song with another beat from the game. Never been and Never been pt 2 are great examples of when nerd culture inspires greatness in the music world.
Logic The Incredible True Story
Logic’s sophomore album did not disappoint music wise. Logic being a nerd himself, this album’s concept was comprised of being a sci-fi space story. It doesn’t get more geeky than that. Many cutscenes comprise two travelers in a spaceship looking for a new land called Paradise, due to earth becoming a barren land. Logic himself has said he was inspired by cowboy bebop, Akira, and Quentin Tarantino. One of the main characters in the cutscene is Quentin Thomas, played by Steve Blum, who also voiced somebody from our childhood. Steve Blum played the voice of Tom on Toonami back in the day when we were kids coming homing to watch DBZ and Gundam Wing. This album production had a sci-fi anime feel to it as if you could drop the soundtrack in your favorite show and it would belong. Incredible True Story was a project that was inspired by the inner nerd of its artist combining it with hip-hop.
Kanye West’s love for Akira
Despite recent shenanigans by Kanye West, I’m going to take it back to the old Kanye. Many do not know that Kanye West has been inspired many times by anime. One of the biggest anime influences on Kanye west was Akira. Akira is often thought of as the anime movie to officially crossover anime in America and one of the greatest anime movies of all time. His Good Friday singles promotional graphics all resemble the graphics of Akira.
Also, the biggest influence is his Stronger video from his Graduation album. The visual is loaded with references from the movie. The motorcycle gang fight scene is alluded to in the video as well as throughout most of the video, the experimentation scene on Kanye is a direct mirror of the movie. One more big reference was Kanye breaking out of the hospital and fighting the soldiers with gas masks. The whole video just screams Japanese and anime influences. Quick fact, Akira can be seen in the background of Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s Scream video.
These are just a few of the many times Hip Hop and nerd culture collided. Both facets of entertainment provide creative outlets for artists and have a dedicated following. Its only natural that at one point Hip-hop and nerd culture would collide!