Rap Sidekicks and Their Superhero Equivalents
At this point, hip-hop is as much narrative entertainment as it is music. The alliances, rivalries, and incessant fanfare often make the rap game feel like its own lore-filled fictional universe. Comics are the easiest comparison to make with rap music because, to the people who grew up listening to hip-hop, these are our heroes (or villains—shout out to Suge). We obsess over every aspect of them, their relationships, their shoes (I have a pair of G-Unit Reeboks in my closet as I type this), and especially the people they decide to bring along with them, their sidekicks.
Sidekicks in rap are not unlike sidekicks in comic books (chiefly because they are mostly bad at their jobs and very ugly, I say that completely out of jealousy), and with an ungodly amount of time spent researching on forums with names like “sidekick central” I not only have a greater understanding for why it is bullying continues to exist in America, but also a solid list of rap sidekicks and their superhero counterparts. Peep this.
Snoop Dogg = Robin (Dick Grayson)
Before he was Uncle Snoop the Rastafarian Football Dad that your mom loves to namedrop for cool points, he was Snoop Doggy Dogg, West Coast gangsta rapper and the greatest sidekick hip-hop has ever known. The comparison to Robin has been made before, usually hinging on painting Dr. Dre as a Batman figure, but it’s more than that. In the publication history of Batman, Robin has been less of a person and more of a position that is filled and then eventually replaced, starting with the first Robin, Dick Grayson. The same could be said for the role of Dr. Dre’s right hand man, which Snoop was the first of. Over the course of Dr. Dre’s career, he has had exactly seven true proteges, and how many Robins has there been? That’s right, five. (It’s not a perfect analogy, OK?) Another point is that even though Snoop is no longer Dre’s protege, he remains a frequent collaborator, just in a different role. Just as Dick Grayson left the position of Robin to become Nightwing. Who becomes the next Robin is a big deal, and like how hip-hop heads speculate on who Dre will decide to take under his wing next, so do comic book fans wonder who will take up Robin’s mantle.
Fat Joe = Aqualad
Fat Joe is dope. That is not an opinion, it’s just how it is, get used to it. Having said that indisputable fact, if you find yourself in the situation of having to levy a single criticism towards him, it could maybe be that he’s like a Whopper Jr. to Big Pun’s Whopper—it’s all the same stuff, just a little less of it. The “ruthless fat guy” image, double-time flow, and frequent use of Spanish are elements that carry well from Pun to Joe, even if the execution isn’t as tight.
Aqualad occupies this same space relative to Aquaman, except he sucks. Aqualad’s abilities read like a kids menu when compared to Aquaman’s, add that to the fact that this spandex-clad fish boy is named Garth (why?) and you start to wonder why Aquaman keeps him around in the first place. I suppose you could make this same argument and apply it to Fat Joe, except Fat Joe made “Lean Back”, and he also isn’t named “Fat Garth”, which is an advantage.
Bonus similarity: Both Aqualad and Fat Joe can telepathically communicate with marine life.
Ghostface Killah = War Machine
Ghostface definitely isn’t a sidekick now, but he used to be. Before the Champ dropped his first album, he was the guest star of Raekwon’s OB4CL, featuring on 12 of the 17 songs on the project. To be fair, Ghost was never a sidekick in the true sense of the word—he never took a backseat to The Chef, and consistently provided the best verses on the album (fight me). The pair was different, but worked well together. While Rae spit about diamond pets and velvet burritos, Ghost rapped about his love for women with lazy eyes and weirdly small feet. It was a match made in heaven.
If I was incredibly lazy, I would have just named Raekwon as the War Machine comparison, because Ghost already goes by Tony Starks. Lucky for us I’m only very lazy, and spent a whole 15 minutes deciding that Ghostface fit better as War Machine. In Iron Man, Tony Stark lives a life of luxury that only Raekwon would rap about; that’s his whole angle. War Machine, on the other hand, is just kind of a regular guy with a penchant for extreme violence and justice. The suits also showcase the differences, as Iron man sports a flashy red and gold suit, and war machine rocks an all-metallic version equipped with giant machine guns and rocket launchers. Oh, also he’s way better. Just like Ghostface.
Juelz Santana = Bucky Barnes
Any time I can write about Dipset I will, so here we go: Juelz Santana is one of the most beautiful things in life. He’s one of my idols, and the reason I wore a bandana every day for an embarrassing stretch of my high school life. Santana and Dipset’s influence on myself and America cannot be understated; they represent us on a global scale, and they do a damn good job. Santana is often underrated by casual Dipset fans, but he’s actually crucial to the team. Who else is gonna be Cam’Ron’s right hand man? Jim Jones? Jim Jones raps like Bernie Sanders.
This is why Bucky Barnes is perfectly analogous. Cam is a real-life captain America, and Juelz is his sidekick. Juelz’ abilities are underrated, just like Bucky’s. Most casual comic readers think of Bucky Barnes as a goofy kid with the name of a horse, but he’s so much more. Bucky is a badass: he fought Nazis, defused bombs, and became the Winter Soldier all before eventually taking the role of Captain America himself. He also has a robot arm, which I think helps my case. Not because Juelz Santana also has a robot arm, but because robot arms are cool, and Juelz Santana is cool. Case closed.
Apl De Ap and Taboo = Wendy and Marvin
I’m not sure if you know this, but Apl De Ap and Taboo are two human members of The Black Eyed Peas. If you aren’t sure who they are, Taboo is the one who looks like he plays Yu-Gi-Oh, and Apl De Ap is the body of the more well-known member of the BEP, Pair of Giant Sunglasses. Together, they somehow have managed to stay credited for doing something on all six Black Eyed Peas albums, although for what I’m not exactly sure. They rapped on the first couple, but as soon as Fergie showed up it’s like they decided they’d be better off spending their creative energy figuring out how to dress like bowls of lucky charms.
Their similarities to Wendy and Marvin lie in their complete and utter uselessness. In Super Friends, Wendy and Marvin’s entire role is to feed Wonder Dog, the powerless dog who contributes more to the group than the humans who fill its bowl. Despite their not doing anything, the Super Friends still let these breathing mannequins hang out and collect a cut of their Super Friends royalty checks. And why? You might ask. Well, maybe it’s because Superman feels bad cutting Wendy and Marvin out of a group that’s become bigger than them, but more likely it’s because Wendy and Marvin’s manager secured a sweet deal with Interscope, and they realized all they gotta do is sit back and let Superman and Wonder Woman do all the work.
Let the record show that everybody on this list makes more money than me. Including the dog.