Hip Hop <3 Dragon Ball Z
We love Hip Hop music. From Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash and Kool Herc’s time, through Immortal Technique, 2Pac, The Lady of Rage, Nas and Jay Z’s time and all the way up to today, with Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, J. Cole and Earl Sweatshirt. It’s not just about the sick beats, there’s a raw poetic truth to the stories told in the lyrics. And we’re here to listen. MCs are the literary artists and rap is their poetry… But we could geek on about that for hours. So let’s move on quick.
One of the main reasons for Hip Hop’s success is that there’s a real sense of connection with Hip Hop artists. For the most part, Hip Hop artists see and live in the same world as we do; they chat about real life; like the same things we like; and have the same dreams we have.
(I know this statement’ll get some people vexed. And I genuinely agree there are some barriers that still need to be overcome and will on some levels impact on the truth of the statement [social class, race, gender…]. But for the sake of this post, I’m asking that you put those aside and keep it as light as kids watching cartoons)
We were all kids once (some of us still are) and allllllllll kids love cartoons. Whatever your life was, the escapism into the world of cartoons was real. To know that artists like the legendary RZA and Childish Gambino have sat chilling in front of a TV, watching Dragon Ball like the rest of us is powerful. To think that they were probably shouting at the screen and jumping around like we did when Goku finally beat Beerus, and coming away with the same feelings we had when Vegeta sacrificed himself, gives us a feeling of a shared experience.
So it really hits hard when Dragon Ball Z’s dropped in song lyrics. It’s the artist’s way of letting us know they can relate to our dreams and lives. And we can relate to how they must have imagined themselves in the frames of the show. And how, even now, they look back on the characters’ responses to events, take note and relate this to their daily life.
But enough chat, let’s get to the fun bits…
I’ve watched a load of videos and read a fair few posts on how Hip Hop loves Dragon Ball. But none as good as Genius Gabble. Who’s already done the homework. So, not gonna lie, I’m just gonna borrow it.
Firstly, if you’re looking to spit some bars, here’s how DBZ’s used in Hip Hop:
GOKU = Intense strength
Being the best fighter in his universe (big statement, but that’s basically what all the DB series are about), it’s pretty easy to see why Goku means strength in Hip Hop. Rappers use Goku when referring to strong swagger, drugs or violence.
VEGETA = A ruthless, dirty fighter. Arrogant and vengeful
Hip Hop tends to ignore Vegeta’s character development from rival to ally and villain to anti-hero, to hero. Instead, focusing on Vegeta’s bitterness and inflated sense of superiority (huuuge ego, just for being born into royalty).
SUPER SAIYAN = Lyrical mastery
Super Saiyan’s a transformation only achievable by the most powerful Saiyans (or Saiyan hybrids), whose power’s so overwhelming it can only be maintained in a transformed state. It was considered a legend because, until Goku, no Saiyan was powerful enough to complete the transformation for 1000 years.
KRILLIN = Basically, rappers just love to take the piss outta Krillin
Krillin’s one of the strongest humans, but is weak compared to standard aliens. He provides a lot of comic relief during the tense moments of the anime. Usually because of his short height and big head.
FRIEZA = Powerful evil / Bling
Sadistic and enormously powerful from birth, Frieza conquered at least 448 worlds, taking on warriors from all races into an elite force of and destroyed the Saiyan world because he was threatened by their power.
PICCOLO = Rapper’s love mentioning the colourful appearance of Piccolo
Again, Hip Hop ignores the major character arc from epic villain to one of the most loved allies and characters and the fact that he’s one of the strongest warriors in the universe. Instead, rappers focus on Piccolo’s green colour and purple blood.
GOHAN = Intense strength / Inherited strength
Gohan’s Goku’s son. He’s naturally more powerful than his dad, but is not as much of a fighter.
MAJIN BUU = Rappers love to reference Majin Buu’s pink colour
One of the anime’s most powerful villains. Majin Buu has so many forms we can’t keep up. But he’s always pink in colour… So you can guess what rappers are usually referring to when they reference Majin Buu.
Gabble even made a chart to show which references are used the most.
And if you’re still sat there like “Naaaa, I ain’t ever heard of any rapper going super Saiyan”, Gabble even laid out the DB references on a sick timeline.
And like the fucking top wingman we are, we’ve even dropped these all into a Spotify playlist for ya:
If you’re riding the nostalgia wave with us right now, check out our anime inspired, limited edition, 30 piece collection Make MoveZ for the ultimate fangirl buzz.