Marvel’s got hip-hop on the brain. After the Run the Jewels covers of Howard the Duck, Secret Wars and Deadpool took off this year, Marvel launched more this summer and fall, honoring iconic albums like Raewkon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Each of these variants are sure to become collector’s items—as fans of Wu-Tang Clan and DOOM know, the cross-section of comic and rap fans is a deeply devoted fanbase. These handful of covers represent a marriage of visual art and music—plus, seeing Rocket Raccoon make the Run the Jewels symbol is undeniably awesome.
But: Why stop at just a few covers? Why not, you know, come up with a rap theme for every hero?
OK, that might be too ambitious. But, All-New, All-Different Marvel launches this week, and it’s a golden opportunity to give each new book its own soundtrack. So, check out what artists you should listen to along with each new #1. I’ve embedded Spotify playlists of each one below, so you can listen along as you read throughout the launches! (One note: One playlist is explicit, so don’t listen to it around your kids or if you’re sensitive to explicit language, and the other playlist is “clean,” but you might still want to be careful listening to it around your kids!)
I explained briefly why I matched each title with each artist, but this doesn’t stop with my picks. What do you think? What other artists (comic and rap) do you want to see do some crossover work? Stream the playlist while you check out my choices, then weigh in below!
Invincible Iron Man #1
Ghostface Killah, “The Champ”
Iron Man is being set up as even more of a centerpiece of the Marvel universe than ever. So what better song to celebrate that than one that compares the titular character to a “wrecking ball”?
Azaelia Banks, “Ice Princess”
This all-female Avengers team is a perfect pairing with Azelia Banks, who’s a dual threat singer and rapper who dabbles in hip-hop and electronic pop. For a team that includes She-Hulk and Dazzler, that kind of versatility is a must.
All-New All-Different Avengers #1
De La Soul, “Get Away (The Spirit of Wu-Tang)”
It’s a team-up of the old and new, a group of powerful individuals learning to become a team. In other words, it’s De La Soul, a group of talented MCs made better by teaming up.
Uncanny Avengers #1
A Tribe Called Quest, “Jazz (We’ve Got)”
This team is composed of seasoned heroes and, um, Deadpool. A Tribe Called Quest always sounded seasoned, and the jazzy beats of this track lend the swagger of The Merc with a Mouth.
New Avengers #1
Beastie Boys, “Ch-ch-check it Out”
This new team is a little bit edgy, a little bit unproven and a lot of fun, just like this Beastie Boys classic.
Run the Jewels, “Oh My Darling, Don’t Cry”
Any team including Black Panther and Galactus is going to punch you right in the mouth. Similarly, this booming track from Run the Jewels takes no prisoners.
Doctor Strange #1
GZA, “Auto Bio”
GZA is a wizard behind the mic, making references to kung fu, chess and esoteric philosophy. Dr. Strange is a literal wizard who works with demons. So, basically, same thing.
Captain Marvel #1
Beyonce, ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “***Flawless”
This is cheating a little bit, since it’s not technically a hip-hop song, but try telling either Beyonce or Captain Marvel they need to fit neatly into a category.
Sam Wilson, Captain America #1
Jay-Z, “Change Clothes”
The title is a little on the nose (“change clothes” doesn’t really specify if the falcon wings go too), but the swagger is all there.
The Totally Awesome Hulk #1
Danny Brown, “Grown Up”
Danny Brown’s music explores the alienation of growing up different and trying to figure out how to navigate adulthood when you’re still a little different. Pak’s latest take on the Hulk seems like it will do the same.
The Mighty Thor #1
Kanye West, “POWER”
Scarlet Witch #1
Killer Mike ft. El-P, “Butane (Champion’s Anthem)”
This Killer Mike track tells the story of a rapper who has never been recognize for his power, but is coming to grips with that. I suspect the new Scarlet Witch book will tell much the same story.
Ms. Marvel #1
Rapsody, “Who I Am”
This track from up-and-comer Rapsody is an unapologetic declaration of confidence, which is a perfect backdrop for the current Ms. Marvel.
Wu Tang Clan, “Protect Ya Neck”
The Illuminati are a bunch of “heroes” who also are kind of bad guys … who are bad for the common good? Who knows, ever. Similarly, Wu-Tang Clan are purportedly for the children, but also might harm your neck (and, presumably, other appendages)!
This latter-day Nas song finds the singer recounting on his days as a younger rapper and looking back as an elder statesman of hip-hop. The new Hawkeye similarly seems to suggest an older Clint Barton offering his wisdom to Kate Bishop.
Cam’Ron, “Hey Ma”
Scott Lang is a villain with a heart of gold, so basically he’s Cam’Ron.
The Vision #1
DJ Rashad, “Only One”
This song doesn’t have any rapping, but it is a repetitive electronic track that is talking about finding love. And really, isn’t that the story of vision?
Contest of Champions #1
Drake, “Back to Back”
This possibly weird game tie-in comic will also be based on competition, just like Drake’s fiery diss track from this summer.
Amazing Spider-Man #1
The Roots, ft. Dice Raw “Here I Come”
The Roots are classic heroes of rap, and Spider-Man is a classic hero. This track is a statement of intent—I presume the same will be necessary of Peter Parker in an All-New, All-Different Universe.
Waka Flocka Flame, “Bustin’ at ‘Em”
This track begins with the lyric “shoot first, ask questions later,” which I think is actually on Carnage’s business card.
Missy Elliott, “Work It”
Jessica Drew doesn’t take crap from anyone, just like Missy Elliott in this classic.
Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
This modern masterpiece from Kendrick Lamar has the same hope and longing as Miles Morales, but I think Spidey will be similarly alright.
The Fugees, “How Many Mics”
Gwen Stacy has been dead for a LONG time (feel free to launch into your multiverse essays here). Coming back finds her brimming with confidence, reflected in this straight-fire track from the Fugees.
A$AP Ferg, “Hood Pope”
The cover of this comic suggests Silk is a villain now… but is she? Is she robbing for her family? That complicated look at crime and villainy is also found in this grimy track from A$AP Ferg.
Spider-Man 2099 #1
Shabazz Palaces, “The King’s New Clothes Were Made by His Own Hands”
Shabazz Palace songs always sound like they traveled from the future and ended up in our time, which is what Spider-Man 2099 literally did.
Web Warriors #1
The Cool Kids, “Bassment Party”
A group of all Spider-folks sounds like a wild party, just like the one described in this song.
Common, “The Dreamer”
Daredevil is a tireless defender of the oppressed and wants to always fight injustice, sort of like Common. Common, sadly, doesn’t have radar.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Rick Ross ft. T-Pain, Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West, “Maybach Music 2”
This comic is crazy over the top and also awesome, much like this ridiculous(ly great) song from Rick Ross.
Clipse, “Ride Around Shining’”
Clipse are terrifying and efficient (especially when rapping over a Neptunes beat). Drax is also terrifying and efficient, but more at the killing than the rapping.
Howard the Duck #1
Rich Gang, “Lifestyle”
I’m going to be honest: I chose this song mostly because I think it would be really funny to see Howard the Duck walking into a room with this song playing the background.
Jay Electronica, “Exhibit A”
Poor Nova—he has the hopes of a galaxy (and, from the looks of the new series, his family) on his shoulders. Jay Electronica has the hopes of scores of rap fans on his shoulders—here’s hoping Nova is a little bit more successful in his efforts!
Migos, “Spray the Champagne”
Paraphrasing Migos, the youth are taking over! Long live Kitty Pryde, Star-Lord!
Venom: Spaceknight #1
DOOM, “Gazzillion Ear”
Is Venom a good guy or bad guy now? Is DOOM a good guy or bad guy? Yes, and yes.
Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Eric B. & Rakim, “Don’t Sweat the Technique”
Both these rappers and these heroes are old-school guys who have things to teach the new generation.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Black Star, “Definition”
Black Star are a hip-hop duo who make thoughtful music that celebrates camaraderie. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D rely on one another for survival, celebrating camaraderie along the way. Plus, this would sound great on their plane sound system.
Uncanny Inhumans #1
Watch the Throne, “Otis”
The Inhumans are ascending the throne of the Marvel universe. There has never been a song more befitting the throne-sitters than “Otis.”
Blackalicious, “Your Move”
Karnak studies and plots his enemies’ demise. I suspect Blackalicious might do the same thing.
Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1
Notorious B.I.G., “Who Shot Ya”
If Angela is anywhere near as terrifying as this Biggie Smalls track, this will be a great series.
Squadron Supreme #1
50 Cent, ft. Eminem, “Patiently Waiting”
Survivors of various planets gather to defend their new home planet in this new title. Just like 50 Cent waits to go off when challenged. It sort of works, when you think about it!
Extraordinary X-Men #1
Outkast, “So Fresh, So Clean”
Any team consisting of classic and new, out-of-time X-Men is a perfect fit for this Outkast track’s combination of classic soul and forward-thinking beats.
Uncanny X-Men #1
Earl Sweatshirt, ft. Tyler, the Creator, “Whoa”
This Earl Sweatshirt track makes him sound paranoid and maybe not as much of a “good guy” I’d want from a rap song. It’s perfect for any comic featuring Magneto and Mystique as main characters.
Joey Bada$$, “Paper Trail$”
The youngsters are coming in this new series. Joey Bada$$ is making waves as a newcomer with an ear for the past. It’s a good marriage of sound and X-team.
Old Man Logan #1
Raekwon, ft. Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah & Method Man, “House of Flying Daggers”
This song sounds like a kung-fu movie come to life, and all of the rappers are kind of old dudes by now, so it’s the obvious soundtrack for Logan the Senior Citizen.
All-New Wolverine #1
Nicki Minaj, “Did It On ‘Em”
This is one of Nicki Minaj’s most aggressive tracks, a good fit for one of Marvel’s most aggressive and awesome heroes.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard, “I Can’t Wait”
Deadpool is off the wall and maybe unstable. Which also describes Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s music.