On one side, anime culture was thought to be reserved for the socially inept. But with the rise of social media and the opportunity to connect across the globe through the internet, anime is no longer a subject of shame as those interested in the genre have crossed over to various groups.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of this crossover has been hip-hop. The go to culture continues to innovate and expand it’s reach across the globe.
While it may appear to the masses that today’s hip-hop is more welcoming to new genres, hip-hop has drawn inspiration from Japanese entertainment for years now.
Rising star Meg Thee Stallion shocked the world when she showed her love for anime culture a few months back. To most, a simple red and white dye appeared to be a bold change for her career. However, fans of the hit show My Hero Academia were quick to recognize her tribute to the iconic character Shoto Todoroki, known for his fire and ice abilities. While on this phase she even went so far as to refer to herself as Todoroki Tina.
Digging deeper in the crates reveals how even underground rappers have drawn influence from anime. Joe Budden’s most technical song Dumb Out from arguably his best mixtape, samples a beat from 90’s anime Escaflowne.
The song not only serves as a testament to Budden’s impeccable rap ability, but the beat is immaculate and drawn from a show/movie that itself could be considered “underground” within the western anime culture.
Anime extends within hip-hop’s mainstream as well. R&B singer Frank Ocean has referenced Dragon Ball Z several times within his music.
Most notably, Ocean’s hit freshman album Channel Orange; features a song by the name of Pink Matter. On it he sings, “that soft pink matter, Cotton candy Majin Buu. Close my eyes and fall into you…” in reference to the iconic villain from DBZ.
That also wouldn’t be the last time he refers to the most notable anime on Earth. On a solo release titled Provider, Ocean wonders about the colour of his lover’s hair as he croons “Is you a natural blondie like Goku?” referencing Goku’s hair colour in his exemplary Super Saiyan form.
Without a doubt, Dragon Ball has been the most referenced anime within hip-hop and even spawned an artist by the name of Kid Buu. Another artist who’s drawn influence from the most recognizable anime, was Joey Badass who teamed up with Mick Jenkins on Jerome off The Water[s] mixtape and made an interesting parallel to opening up his chakras like a Super Saiyan. It’s definitely one of the most unique Dragon Ball verses in the rap game.
Other artists from Kodak Black to even Drake have been linked to some level of influence from anime. Kodak raps on the Guts theme song from Berserk in a song titled Believe This Shit, and on More Life, Drake raps on a Sonic The Hedgehog sample on KMT.
Anime is no longer a culture of the untouchables. There’s a mass appeal that has influenced one of the biggest music cultures in the world and helped produce some of the greatest songs.