I decided to take a trip down memory lane today and highlight a few Hip Hop related cartoons, comic book titles and graphic novels from the past 15+ years. Some of these comic books you never even heard of and a few of them I wish I hadn't heard of or read, either. Here goes:
Kid N' Play (1990)
The Kid N' Play cartoon ran from 1990 to 1991 and featured 22 episodes each with a song from Kid N' Play's first two LP's "2 Hype" and "Funhouse". The main characters were Kid, Play, Play's mother, father, little brother and sister, Play's sister was part of a backup dance crew called Nonstop that often performed with Kid N' Play. Also in the cast were Wiz, the DJ, Hurby, the producer and the gang's trusty Rapmobile which they used to get to their gigs and shows. After the second season aired, the show wasn't renewed.
DIC Animation studios decided to capitalize off of MC Hammer's popularity by rushing out 13 episodes of a crappy cartoon with a flimsy plot. Stanley Burrell works at a community center and his grandfather was once a great musician who had magical shoes that helped him fight crime. Yeah, I know. This cartoon had some of the worst animation I can remember and I need other people to suffer like I did back when my 16 year old eyes bled while watching this garbage. Thank God that no episodes are uploaded on YouTube or Dailymotion.
Kid N' Play (Marvel, 1992)
Kid N' Play's Marvel comic book was aimed at kids and it was based on the Kid N' Play Saturday morning cartoon that aired on NBC at the same time. It follows the adventures of Kid, Play, DJ Wiz and their producer Hurby as they rock party after after with the aid of their Rapmobile. The title was discontinued after 9 issues and the cartoon ended after a second season and 22 episodes...they ran out of songs. Hey, at least it was better than Hammerman!
Break The Chain! (Marvel, 1994)
Legendary emcee KRS One wrote this groundbreaking comic book that also came with a tape so you could hear the comic book as well as read it. KRS One also recorded some songs made specifically for the project as the story's protagonist, Big Joe Krash. The art was done by highly respected comic book writer and artist Kyle Baker (Nat Turner, The Spirit & Birth Of A Nation) and KRS One pretty much made the book to combat negative stereotypes of Blacks and Latinos especially in Hip Hop culture. It didn't sell too well as the $6.99 price point made it tough to move.
Onyx: Fight (Marvel, 1995)
This ill fated title was written by veteran Karl Boller (Cable) and the art was done by Larry Lee (?). The book depicted Onyx in a post apocalyptic future world where Sticky Fingaz, Fredro Starr and Sonsee tried to survive as bounty hunters. The dark Hip Hop meets cyberpunk theme didn't go over with many heads and the new direction that Onyx took with their "All We Got Iz Us" LP also put some listeners off. Either way, this comic book has since been forgotten by most folks...except for me, that is.
Nine Rings Of Wu Tang (Image, 1999)
Where do I begin? The Wu Tang license was given to world famous Haberlin Studios and published by Image Comics. Brian Haberlin (Witchblade) and Aaron Bullock wrote the title and the art was done by veteran illustrator/inker Clayton Henry (Uncanny X-Men, X-Men). The premise of the book and the stories had very little to do with either the Shaw Studios Wu Tang Clan or the Staten Island Wu Tang Clan for that matter. Diehard Wu fanatics were disappointed by not only the Wu Tang videogame but this comic book. It was discontinued after 6 issues and several other special editions and previews.
Sentences: The Life Of MF Grimm (Vertigo, 2007)
This graphic novel tells the eventful and sometimes tragic life story of Percy Carey AKA MF Grimm in his own words. The art was handled by artist Ronald Wimberly (Lucifer & Hellblazer: Papa Midnite) and detailed the ups and downs of growing up in the inner city, his family and home life, being a drug dealer and an emcee as well as chronicling the different attempts on his life and his comeback. This title was so well done that Vertigo offered Grimm a shot at writing for some of their other titles. A definite must read for any Hip Hop head or comic book fan.
Method Man (Grand Central, 2008)
Method Man himself came up with the concept of this graphic novel and his ideas were further fleshed out and written by David Atchison (Occult Crimes Task Force). Peerless Poe is a descendant of Cain and as such he belongs to a secret order that does clandestine ops to prevent Lilith and her brood from raising the Tower Of Babel into the sky so they can wage war against The Most High and overthrow Heaven. Poe has since left the order but he joins them again and becomes a Method Man to save the world. This graphic novel exceeded my expectations as far the complexity of the story went. Check it out if you haven't already.