In part one of this series I gave brief tour of my adventures at this year’s Comic Con in New York. This chapter will begin to delve deep into the continuing relationship of comics and hip-hop. The two worlds have been synonymous with each other since the early 1970s. Visual evidence of this can be found in the artistic element of hip-hop known to all as graffiti. While for decades on end rappers have adapted themes and references from comics to their own personas, lyrics and music. The panel itself boasted well over one hundred years of combined experience and expertise in each form of art. To bolster the celebration of these “hybrid cultures” goodie bags were given to attendees, each filled with hip-hop and comic related paraphernalia.
Panel moderator Patrick Reed opened the evening by asking the panelist about their early exposures to worlds of hip-hop and comic books. “Before I got exposed to hip-hop it was comics for me,” Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darryl “DMC” McDaniels shared with the audience. “I think my first exposure to a superhero I think was The Amazing Spiderman,” added the Grammy Award Nominee. He went on to disclose how he never imagined performing before millions of spectators early in his life. Telling the crowd tales of how he was picked on in his youth based on his appearance and Catholic school upbringing. This would lead him to relate to such iconic characters as the aforementioned web slinger and Superman.
As for his earliest hip-hop encounter he told the attendee’s, “My first exposure to hip-hop was actually Eddie Chiba. I was in a school yard with my friends and we stood there for three hours listening to thirty seconds of that but whatever it was it was me! And my transition from being able to identify with Spiderman into this rap thing gave me a platform where I can be vocal. It all started with comic books because I think comic books and hip-hop gave me a way of leaving the world that I was in and going to somewhere I could be accepted.” But it didn’t stop there as the hip-hop pioneer revealed the day when the two worlds officially came together. This was when as a teen he sold his comic books to local youths in Hollis, Queens in order to purchase deejay equipment. One of these teens wound up later being future band mate Joseph “Run” Simmons.
Another question posed to the panelists by Reed was what elements of comics serve as inspiration. “I’d have to say the group heroes The X-Men, The Avengers, and Defenders. I was looking at the groups of heroes working together,” said legendary producer and rapper Pete Rock. If there ever was anyone who is embodiment of collaborative efforts in hip-hop it’s the man known to many as The Chocolate Boy Wonder. Rock has been in the game well over twenty years has worked with the likes of Stetsasonic, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Gang Starr and fellow panelist DMC. “One of my favorite heroes I could relate to was The Hulk. His powers and the brute strength he has and everything. I took that whole attitude and applied it to what I do,” Rock added.
Also carrying on the theme of collaborative efforts was Bronx native DJ Johnny “Juice” Rosado. Rosado, like Rock, has been involved with hip-hop the same number of years and it would be quite obvious to see that both of their careers have paralleled on one another’s. “Juice” as he is commonly known is anything but common man as he too is an extremely accomplished producer and composer. His list of work credits is impeccable; they consist of legendary names such as Public Enemy, Leaders Of The New School and Son Of Bazerk. “If you guys didn’t know I did the scratching on the Public Enemy records. The Terminator X was me. And at the time scratching was really not arranged. Scratching was just straight through. I wanted to arrange the scratches just like musicians arrange music. The superhero connection, the comic book thing was when you see a group like The Avengers they all had their part to play. So a lot of the arrangements mimicked a fight. The whole thing is like a comic book fight,” the Bomb Squad member told the crowd.
Keep your eyes peeled as I continue this series in part three. As you the viewer will get more stories and thoughts from this all-star panel.