Words & Graphics by Alex Delarge of Liveagl.com
If you peel back the layers of most rappers and look past their jewelry, fast cars and outlaw outer shell, you’ll see that, deep down, they’re nerds just like the rest of us. Ghostface probably would much rather be reading an Iron Man comic than finger-banging a groupie right now. Just run up to your favorite rapper and talk about the newest X-Men story arc and he’ll surely high-five you and invite you to his tour bus to smoke tons of reefer and pour wine coolers on naked virgins. This love of comic books probably comes from the fact that many rappers grew up during the heyday of Saturday morning cartoons when so many comics were adapted to television. That’s why artists like Ghost and DOOM infuse so many of these cartoon clips into their work – it’s like they’re acting out their childhood fantasies on wax.
But what if these weren’t mere fantasies? What if our favorites rappers actually were Marvel Comics characters? We have an idea as to who each rapper would portray.
Jay-Z – Iron Man
Jay-Z is a bit of a tricky one but I think Tony Stark best fits his personality (sorry Ghost). When Iron Man is in his Tony Stark persona, he is extremely smart and charismatic like Jay when he’s Shawn. When both men “transform” into their alter egos, they possess an immense amount of power and ability. Tony and Jay also share a confident demeanor in their respective ability, whether it be Stark’s conviction in his powers or Jay’s in his rhyme style. To add one more point, Iron man is the leader of a superhero group who join forces and secretly work behind the scenes in the Marvel Universe. The group is called the Illumanti #jusssayin.
Kanye West – The Hulk
The obvious reason for this match is anger but remarkably there are more parallels. The humble and timid Bruce Banner represents Kanye during the earlier stages of his career when he was working with the Roc. Now Kanye is a force to be reckoned with much like the Hulk. The most interesting comparison is the regret both “characters” feel after their random, and sometimes tumultuous, outbursts. When Bruce Banner finishes his rampage as the Hulk, he tends to get remorseful. We saw the same reaction with Kanye during that infamous VMA incident.
Lupe Fiasco – Silver Surfer
Lupe and Silver are a great match due to their many similarities. Both characters board, both characters are extremely introspective and both spread a message of freedom and awareness: post-Galactus of course. In addition, Silver Surfer’s relationship with and eventual separation from Galactus can be compared to Lupe Fiasco’s label disputes with Atlantic Records being the gigantic planet-eating entity.
Nas – Namor
Namor is not as talked about as other comic book heroes since he was a popular hero during the Golden Age of the ’30s & ’40s. Now he tends to be a recluse and makes appearances only in certain story arcs. Nas really comes to mind when I think about Namor’s character because both men are well respected and have been around for a long time, but unfortunately, both men have become relics and walking clichés of themselves. However, all is not lost. Namor is the King of Atlantis and I would compare the Atlantis people of the comic world to hardcore Nas fans.
Lil Wayne – Wolverine
Lil Wayne as Wolverine might be unorthodox to some but they have many equivalent characteristics. Both had incredibly difficult childhoods as orphans, both needed to grow up fast and both have a ferocious work ethic. I would compare Wolverine’s mutant healing abilities to Weezy’s ability to bounce back so effortlessly from his legal woes. Wolverine is currently a part of a slew of factions and continuously joins story arcs and makeshift groups to aid other heroes. Weezy’s in the same boat as he has a bevy of features and groups he’s in.
Drake – Spider-Man
Drake is considered by some to be a “nerd” like Peter Parker because of his lack of experience on the street. But after his launch into super stardom Drake’s reality changed and Parker went through the same experience when he first became Spider-Man. As Spider-Man, Parker has grown a long list of enemies who tend to attack him sporadically: making him one of the most vulnerable heroes in the Marvel Universe. Drake, with his newfound status, is also vulnerable to rappers (both veteran and freshman) trying to oust him on a “friendly” competitive level.
J.Cole – Iceman
J.Cole literally froze the internet with his Friday Night Lights and has a very iced flow that’s sharp and calculated. In terms of origins, Bobby Drake really hid his abilities amongst his peers while J. Cole also kept quiet about his path to be an aspiring rapper. In many of his early interviews, J. Cole talks about how he waited until college to tell his close friends that he was trying to become a rapper. Bobby Drake joined the X-Men to become one of the founding members to the upstart group. Cole – alongside Jay Electronica – looks to be forming another upstart force in the form of the new Roc Nation. Still, choosing a lesser Marvel hero for J. Cole because he still has a lot to prove, especially with his upcoming debut album.
Eminem – Captain America
Eminem, a fairly young Caucasian man, can be seen as your typical American stereotype but he’s not exactly the role model Captain America is. However during the last Marvel story arc called “The Civil War,” heroes were pitted against each and Captain America was deemed as an outlaw and a fugitive by the government. After the event, he was thought to be dead and was gone from the Marvel Universe for a couple of years; a time that parallels the years when Em was on his hiatus on the road to recovery. Apart from the current stories though, comparisons between Eminem and Captain America exist because Marshall’s seen as a representative of Hip-Hop like how the Cap is the representative of Marvel superheros in many respects. You might disagree with the mantle I’ve given to Eminem, but he continues to remain on top of the pile with his sales figures.
Jay Electronica – Dr. Strange
Dr. Strange is the veteran of Marvel relying on ancient magic wizardry in place of brute powerful force. The initial reason for the match was age; both Strange and Jay are powerful but are in the older category of their respective worlds. However with age comes wisdom and both have proven their ability to be wise in various circumstances. Jay Electronica has a more mature and observant style of music and Strange is often regarded as an overseer/mentor in the Marvel Universe. Additionally, there has been a Dr. Strange movie in production limbo for years with a slim chance of it ever being released. You can draw that comparison directly to Jay Electronica’s debut album. Hopefully, it doesn’t stay in this stage for the same period of time.
Nicki Minaj – Rogue
Nicki matches well with the invulnerable chick from X- Men. Rogue is known for her super-strength and flying ability. But she was actually born with the power to absorb other people’s personalities and gifts. That’s to say the multiple personalities she’s garnered are as artificial as Minaj’s hind parts. Many don’t know exactly how Rogue got her powers, although it’s widely held they were gained during a fight with Ms. Marvel. An inexperienced Rogue went up against the formidable foe and permanently drained Ms. Marvel’s powers and memories. Interestingly enough, Lil Kim is claiming Minaj stole her identity and ran with it. It makes for an interesting comparison whether you believe Kim or not.
Rick Ross – The Thing
The Thing or Ben Grim is the brute member of the Fantastic 4 and he’s known for his popular phrase “It’s clobbering time.” In terms of comparison, Ross and The Thing are big. But I can also picture Rick Ross spitting “It’s clobbering time!!” in any rhyme. Apart from size, both have “bawse” in their blood. While growing up The Thing, then Ben Grim, joined and eventually became the leader of the notorious Yancy Street Gang in lower Manhattan. Though neither of them are currently in the crime game, at one point or another, both where the big bosses (according to Ross.)
Raekwon – Power Man a.k.a. Luke Cage
Luke Cage was the first Black hero to have his own series. His streetwise origins could probably enable him to be a rapper in his own right. However the comparison to Rae is due to both men sharing their home base in New York. Plus C.R.E.A.M. can also be considered the origin story for Luke Cage as well. Luke Cage is a lesser hero in Marvel like Raekwon’s identity in Hip-Hop but both men are widely respected by their peers and true fans.
Ghostface Killah – Iron Fist
Iron fist is the kung fu hero of the Marvel Universe. So it only makes sense that he would be compared to a Wu-Tang member. Fist and Ghost look completely different but I know Ghost would be more Iron Fist than Iron Man mainly because I could actually see Ghost wearing Iron Fist’s mask. The other reason for the choice is the duo both make up (Iron Fist and Luke Cage, Ghost and Rae). Apart they are pretty strong. When both are reunited with the other member, their potential is uncanny.
50 Cent – Nick Fury
This is more of a point to 50 Cent’s leadership and influence. G-Unit was once in the upper echelon of Hip-Hop camps (alongside the ROC, Bad Boy, Ruff Ryders, and Murda Inc.) and the military inspiration for this crew makes it comparable to Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D team. 50’s presence in Hip-Hop culture has definitely diminished in the past year. But with his recent influence on the stock market, he proved that he still has some relevance in the world of money-making. After Fury’s Secret War, the general had to take his fight underground, going under the radar to achieve his goals. Fiddy, since his stock has fallen a bit, has taken a guerrilla approach to his releases, dropping mixtapes and random cuts to take him back to his roots.