Anime Love & Hip-Hop with D.J. Lewis: The Present!

When last I posted I was talking about how the subcultures of anime and Hip-Hop crossed paths and came together during the 80’s and early 90’s. Even though the relationship was starting to bloom during that era in time, it wasn’t until 1997 that both subcultures took it to the next level. Unlike Western animation that at one point in time did depict real-life situations such as discrimination, poverty, and violence (early X-Men episodes and several from Captain Planet), Japanese animation took on the fabric of said situations that have attracted the youth-driven culture of Hip-Hop. Several artist that come to mind in terms of the ‘nerdy side’ of Hip-Hop would be the late MF Doom, MegaRan, and Ghostface Killah. As a lot people might’ve noticed (if you happen to be a fan of anime and Hip-Hop) the biggest anime references have been from Dragon Ball Z and Naruto; both of which are heavy-hitter titles that have drawn inspiration from many corners of the African-American community through fashion as well as Hip-Hop.

The Akatsuki bout’ to drop a mixtape!

Several well-known rappers have made tons of references to these titles as you might’ve heard in their lyrics. Others took it a step further and re-created scenes from popular anime; such as Kanye West’s “Stronger” which was heavily inspired by Akira, the 1988 film. The connection between anime and Hip-Hop culture isn’t just in America, it’s also relevant in British Hip-Hop as well. Although you have anime-inspired rappers like Lil’ Uzi Vert and Shababii, one of the most anime-influenced rappers who even has his whole persona rooted in the subculture itself, is Scarlxrd. His sound took on an infusion of Trap music and Heavy Metal; two genres that you normally do see together let alone being fused together. Scarlxrd’s inspiration from anime comes from the popular fan-favorite title known as Tokyo Ghoul; where he even wears the zipped mask that bares heavy resemblance to Ken Kaneki.

The cultural crossover between anime and Hip-Hop has led to various other achievements in the medium; from the level of inclusion of African-American characters in anime, to titles being soundtracked by Hip-Hop through artists like RZA and the late Nujabes. (Japanese Hip-Hop artist Lotus Juice also did Death the Kid’s “So Crazy” theme from Soul Eater as well.) From my view point it seems like the relationship between anime and Hip-Hop will continue to evolve, as upcoming artists are finding their creative sides through the layers of both subcultures. If you jump on YouTube right now you’ll find soooo many Hip-Hop/Rap cyphers about anime titles and characters, that you’ll think its crazy! Who knows, maybe somewhere down the line we’ll have a record label dedicated to anime-inspired Hip-Hop. That is…if it’s not already been done. (*chuckles*)

On my next post will be the conclusion to me three-part series of post between the subcultures of anime, and Hip-Hop. Until next time, stay safe and love one another! 🙂