Comics, emceeing and graffiti: A graphic narrative about the relationship between hip-hop culture and comics culture | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2040-3232
  • E-ISSN: 2040-3240

Abstract

Hip-hop culture will officially turn 50 years old on 11 August 2023. This cultural movement began in a recreational room in The Bronx, New York City, and is now enjoyed throughout the world. In recognition of its upcoming half-century celebration, this article reviews the origins of hip-hop culture (e.g. hip-hop pioneers such as DJ Kool Herc, Keef Cowboy and Lovebug Starski) and the relationship its emceeing and graffiti elements have with comics culture. I begin with a brief review that demonstrates how graffiti predates hip-hop culture. This is illustrated through depictions of cave paintings, ancient Roman street art and ancient Mayan graffiti. I also highlight hobo graffiti and the graffiti from the Cholos and Bachutos gangs from twentieth-century Los Angeles, California. The introduction of the ‘Kilroy was here’ tag during the Second World War and the protest graffiti from a German anti-Nazi group are also depicted. I conclude the historical review of graffiti with an introduction to the early appearances of hip-hop-styled graffiti. Next, I present multiple historical influences on hip-hop emceeing. Examples include (but are not limited to) West African griots, enslaved Africans, Muhammad Ali, Millie Jackson, The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron. Likewise, older genres, such as funk music, blues music, jazz poetry and Black militant poetry inspired much of rap music. Afterwards, I examine the bidirectional relationship between graffiti and comics art, and emceeing and the textual/storytelling aspects of comics. This includes comics-inspired graffiti, hip-hop monikers (e.g. Big Pun, Snoop Dogg, MF Doom and Jean Grae), hip-hop lyrics (from artists such as Grandmaster Caz, Inspectah Deck, Jay-Z and The Last Emperor) and album covers. Conversely, I offer examples of how graffiti has inspired comics visuals and storytelling as well as how emceeing has inspired the comic-book storytelling and the protagonists featured in fictional and non-fictional comic book narratives.

This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND), which allows users to copy, distribute and transmit the article as long as the author is attributed, the article is not used for commercial purposes, and the work is not modified or adapted in any way. To view a copy of the licence, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1386/stic_00064_3
2022-11-01
2024-02-25
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/stic/12/2/stic.12.2.239_Degand.html?itemId=/content/journals/10.1386/stic_00064_3&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

References

  1. Abate, M. A.. ( 2022;), ‘ Ziggy was Here: Tom Wilson’s newspaper comic, World War II, and the role of graffiti in sequential art. ’, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 13:1, pp. 5271, https://doi.org/​10.1080/21504857.2020.1858911. Accessed 12 July 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Allah, S. B.. ( 2018;), ‘ Today in hip hop history: Kool Herc’s party at 1520 Sedgwick avenue 45 years ago marks the foundation of the culture known as hip hop. ’, The Source, 11 August, https://thesource.com/2018/08/11/today-in-hip-hop-history-kool-hercs-party-at-1520-sedgewick-avenue-45-years-ago-marks-the-foundation-of-the-culture-known-as-hip-hop/. Accessed 1 December 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Andrews, G. F.. ( 1980), Architectural Graffiti and the Maya Elite, Eugene, OR:: University of Oregon;.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Baird, J. A., and Taylor, C.. ( 2010), Ancient Graffiti in Context, New York:: Routledge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Barrier, E., and Allah, R.. ( 1987;), ‘ I Know You Got Soul. ’, Paid in Full, Vinyl, USA:: 4th & B’way Records;.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Beat Staff and Taylor, P.. ( 2020;), ‘ Essay: Paco Taylor on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s superhero influences. ’, The Beat: The Blog of Comics Culture, 12 August, https://www.comicsbeat.com/essay-paco-taylor-on-jean-michel-basquiats-superhero-influences/. Accessed 1 December 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Benefiel, R. R.. ( 2010;), ‘ Dialogues of ancient graffiti in the House of Maius Castricius in Pompeii. ’, American Journal of Archaeology, 114:1, pp. 59101.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Caramanica, J.. ( 2018;), ‘ Lovebug Starski: Hip-hop trailblazer is dead at 57. ’, New York Times, 9 February, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/09/obituaries/lovebug-starski-hip-hop-dead.html. Accessed 1 December 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Carey, P., and Grimm, M. F.. ( 2007), Sentences: The Life of M. F. Grimm, New York:: DC Comics;.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Chang, J.. ( 2005), Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, New York:: St. Martin’s Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Chuck, D., and Tillery. ( 2016;), ‘ Muhammad Ali: The original rapper: Legendary emcee Chuck D of public enemy talks Ali’s impact on hip-hop. ’, The Undefeated, 9 June, https://theundefeated.com/features/muhammad-ali-the-original-rapper/. Accessed 1 December 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Clan, W.-T.. ( 1994;), ‘ Protect Ya Neck. ’, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), CD, USA:: Loud Records;.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Coye, D.,, Frazier, C., and Boyd, R.. ( 1992;), ‘ Kung Fools!. ’, Kid N’ Play #1, New York:: Marvel Comics;.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Davis, M.,, Davis, M., and Schultz, B.. ( 2007), Blokhedz, New York:: Pocket Books;.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Degand, D.. ( 2021;), ‘ Traditions, graffiti, identities, and the future: An interview with comic artist Dawud Osaze Kamau Anyabwile. ’, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, pp. 117, https://doi.org/10.1080/21504857.2021.1999293. Accessed 12 July 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Dudek, D.. ( 2021;), ‘ Silent sequences and ontological entanglement in Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and Pat Grant’s Blue. ’, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 12:1, pp. 4656, https://doi.org/10.1080/21504857.2020.1782957. Accessed 12 July 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Duffy, D., and Jennings, J.. ( 2010), Black Comix: African American Independent comics, Art and Culture, New York:: Mark Batty Publishing;.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Duffy, D., and Jennings, J.. ( 2018), Black Comix Returns, St. Louis, MO:: The Lion Forge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Eustice, K.. ( 2018;), ‘ Van Silk explains how both Keith Cowboy and Lovebug Starski gave hip hop its name. ’, HipHopDX, 10 February, https://hiphopdx.com/news/id.45932/title.van-silk-explains-how-both-keith-cowboy-lovebug-starkski-gave-hip-hop-its-name. Accessed 1 December 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Forman, M., and Neal, M. A.. ( 2004), That’s the Joint! The Hip-Hop Studies Reader, New York:: Routledge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Gossel, G.. ( 2018;), ‘ The work of Minneapolis based artist Greg Gossel 2018. ’, http://www.greggossel.com/work2018.html. Accessed 12 July 2022.
  22. Global Street Art ( 2019;), ‘ Interview with Bustart. ’, 14 May, http://globalstreetart.com/blog/interview-with-bustart. Accessed 1 December 2021.
  23. Grant, P.. ( 2012), Blue, Marietta, GA:: Top Shelf Productions;.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Gustines, G. G.. ( 2014;), ‘ Filling in an ’80s comic with real graffiti tags. ’, New York Times, 22 October, https://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/filling-in-an-80s-comic-with-real-graffiti-tags/. Accessed 1 December 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Jay-Z ( 2006;), ‘ Kingdom Come. ’, Kingdom Come, CD, USA:: Roc-A-Fella Records;.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. The Last Emperor ( 1996;), ‘ Secret Wars I. ’, Bums / Monumental / Secret Wars Part 1, Vinyl, USA:: Jamal Gray;.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. The Last Emperor ( 2003;), ‘ Secret Wars II. ’, Music, Magic, Myth, CD, USA:: Hi-Rise Records;.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Lee, J.. ( n.d.;), ‘ Bubble project. ’, Ji Lee: Personal Projects, https://pleaseenjoy.com/bubble-project/. Accessed 12 July 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Loki IRL ( 2017;), ‘ Blitzkrieg blast radius. ’, Loki IRL, 12 January, https://lokiirl.tumblr.com/post/169627413793/loki-irl-3-22-fear-of-a-cartoon-planet-episode. Accessed 1 December 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Lytle, C.. ( n.d;.), ‘ Artist biography of Millie Jackson. ’, AllMusic, https://www.allmusic.com/artist/millie-jackson-mn0000488859/biography. Accessed 12 July 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Mahfood, J.. ( 2005), Felt: True Tales of Underground Hip Hop, Berkeley, CA:: Image Comics;.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. McDaniels, D.,, Miranda-Rodriguez, E., and Chu, A.. ( 2017), DMC #3, New York:: Darryl Makes Comics;.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. McDaniels, D.,, Miranda-Rodriguez, E.,, Chu, A., and Walker, D.. ( 2015), DMC #2, New York:: Darryl Makes Comics;.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. McDaniels, D., and Scott, D.. ( 2014), DMC #1, New York:: Darryl Makes Comics;.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. McGruder, A.. ( 2003), A Right to be Hostile: The Boondocks Treasury, New York:: Crown;.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. McGruder, A.. ( 2005), Public Enemy #2: An All-New Boondocks Collection, New York:: Three Rivers Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. McGruder, A.. ( 2007), All the Rage: The Boondocks Past and Present, New York:: Three Rivers Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Moore, A, and Lloyd, D.. ( 1990), V for Vendetta, New York:: DC Comics;.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Mora, G.. ( n.d.;), ‘ Graffiti. ’, Andrews McMeel Syndication, http://syndication.andrewsmcmeel.com/comics/graffiti. Accessed 12 July 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Orr, E.. ( 1986;), ‘ A genuine rap attack. ’, Rappin’ Max Robot #1, New York:: Eric Orr;.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Persichetti, B.,, Ramsey, P., and Rothman, R.. (dirs) ( 2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, USA:: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Columbia Pictures and Marvel Entertainment;, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4633694/. Accessed 23 March 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Phillips, S. A.. ( 2019), The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti, New Haven, CT:: Yale University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Piper, A.. ( 2018), Trill League: Episode One, Chicago, IL:: Anthony Piper;.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Piskor, E.. ( 2013), Hip Hop Family Tree, Seattle, WA:: Fantagraphics Books;.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Price, E. G.. ( 2006), Hip Hop Culture, Santa Barbara, CA:: ABC-CLIO;.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Rabaka, R.. ( 2012), Hip Hop’s Amnesia: From Blues and the Black Women’s Club Movement to Rap and the Hip Hop Movement, New York:: Lexington Books;.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Rose, T.. ( 1994), Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, Middletown, CT:: Wesleyan University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Simmons, R. D.. ( 2015;), ‘ Keith “Cowboy” Wiggins the man who coined the phrase “hip hop” R.I.P brother!. ’, Rapmania, 8 September, https://rapamania.blogspot.com/2015/09/keith-cowboy-wiggins-man-who-coined.html?m=0. Accessed 1 December 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Soniak, M.. ( 2013;), ‘ What’s the origin of “Kilroy was here. ”?’, Mental Floss, 19 June, https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/51249/whats-origin-kilroy-was-here. Accessed 23 March 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. The Sugarhill Gang ( 1979;), ‘ Rapper’s Delight. ’, Sugarhill Gang, Vinyl, USA:: Sugarhill Records;.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Superpower Wiki ( n.d.;), ‘ Graffiti manipulation. ’, https://powerlisting.fandom.com/wiki/Graffiti_Manipulation. Accessed 12 July 2022.
  52. Temple of Hip Hop ( 2020a;), ‘ Graffiti art. ’, https://www.thetempleofhiphop.org/grafitti. Accessed 12 July 2022.
  53. Temple of Hip Hop ( 2020b;), ‘ Deejayin. ’, https://www.thetempleofhiphop.org/deejayin. Accessed 12 July 2022.
  54. Temple of Hip Hop ( 2020c;), ‘ Emceein. ’, https://www.thetempleofhiphop.org/emceein. Accessed 12 July 2022.
  55. Temple of Hip Hop ( 2020d;), ‘ Breakin. ’, https://www.thetempleofhiphop.org/breakin. Accessed 12 July 2022.
  56. Tibbs, D. F., and Chauncey, S.. ( 2016;), ‘ From slavery to hip-hop: Punishing black speech and what’s unconstitutional about prosecuting young black men through art. ’, Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, 52:1, pp. 3365.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Wallenstein, B.. ( 1979;), ‘ The jazz–poetry connection. ’, Performing Arts Journal, 4:1, pp. 14251.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Webster, H. T.. ( 1963;), ‘ Tikal graffiti. ’, Expedition, 6:1, p. 36, https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/tikal-graffiti/. Accessed 1 December 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Weiße Rose Stiftung e.V. ( 2017;), ‘ White Rose wall slogans. ’, https://www.weisse-rose-stiftung.de/white-rose-resistance-group/white-rose-wall-slogans/. Accessed 12 July 2022.
  60. Wyatt, D.. ( 2014;), ‘ Graffiti artist SEEN: “Street art has lost its edge – it’s not the same anymore”. ’, The Independent, 19 June, https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/graffiti-artist-seen-street-art-has-lost-its-edge-it-s-not-same-anymore-9546849.html. Accessed 12 July 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Degand, Darnel. ( [2021] 2022;), ‘ Comics, emceeing and graffiti: A graphic narrative about the relationship between hip-hop culture and comics culture. ’, Studies in Comics, 12:2, pp. 23948, https://doi.org/10.1386/stic_00064_3
    [Google Scholar]
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1386/stic_00064_3
Loading
  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): African American; Black; history; lyrics; music; musicians; New York City; rap
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error