Straight Outta Gotham Rounds Up Hip-Hop’s Best Geeky References in 2016

Geek references in hip-hop ain’t nothin new. Ties between the two cultures go as far back to Big Bank Hank mentioning Superman on “Rapper’s Delight” and continue with dope references from many artists now, including the likes of Migos, Kanye West, and MF Doom.

For over three years now, the Straight Outta Gotham team has been tracking these comic book, anime, sci-fi, fantasy and video game references in the latest and classic hip-hop records. Here’s their list of the best 15 from 2016.

[title type=”h4″]15. Denzel Curry on “Story: No Title”[/title]
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Lyrics: Who said Jesus can’t be a black guy? /
Even Luke Skywalker’s father was on the dark side

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Okay, we’re not quite sure we fully “get” this lyric but we still dig it. Is Curry comparing Vader to Jesus because they were both the chosen ones? Maybe. The “dark side” stuff trips us up though, because Jesus wouldn’t be a sith. Or maybe it’s because Vader was voiced by James Earl Jones, a black guy. Which could mean Vader was technically black in spirit, even though he was white? Like we said, we don’t really know where Denzel was going with this, but we thought it was interesting. So it made our list. Feel free to hit us with your take.

[title type=”h4″]14. Meechy Darko on “Your Favorite Rap Song” by Flatbush Zombies[/title]
14-meechy-darko-on-your-favorite-rap-song
Lyrics: Rolling stone with this chrome, I leave his body in ruins /
I ch-chew him and pew pew him, I’m Duke Nukem /
Fuck y’all n**** doin?

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Gangsta lyrics with nerdy references will always have a special place in our hearts and Meechy did a great job here. It’s gangsta, it’s fun to say, and it references a classic, undermentioned shooter. Oh, and if you haven’t listened to the Flatbush Zombies 3001: A Laced Odyssey album, you need to get on that. It’s one of our favorites of the year.

[title type=”h4″]13. A.CHAL on “Far From Home”[/title]
13-achal-on-far-from-home
Lyrics: I’m triple faded, aw man / Shit getting too lit, Liu Kang
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This simple bar made it on our list for one major reason: originality. There have been countless Liu Kang kicking references in the past and a few this year, too. (See: Young Thug on “Digits”). But thanks to A.CHAL, we’ve finally graduated from the kicking references to a fire one. See what we did there? Now we’re not holding our breaths, but maybe we’ll see some references to Liu Kang’s “For The Shaolin X-Ray” and other moves in 2017. By the way, A.CHAL’s Welcome To Gazi is another one of our favorite albums of the year. So be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.

[title type=”h4″]12. Mykki Blanco on “Fendi Band”[/title]
12-mykki-blanco-on-fendi-band
Lyrics: Blanco spew the venom like a Marvel comic villain
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If someone said, “I spew the venom like Venom” it wouldn’t make our list, but the way Mykki executed the sentiment here is top-notch. She compared herself to the character Venom without technically naming him, which makes it fun to think about the people out there who have no idea which Marvel comic villain she’s referring to even though the answer was mentioned two words ago. Sidenote: Yes, Blanco’s Mykki album was also one of our favorites this year, so at this point it’s safe to say that’s probably true for any other album relevant to this list.

[title type=”h4″]11. Rapsody on “OooWee” featuring Anderson .Paak[/title]
11-rapsody-on-ooowee
Lyrics: So, who your sponsor? I told ’em I’m a monster like Luke Cage /
Take a shot and watch me walk away with just juice stains

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Word to the wise: Don’t get in a bar fight with Luke Cage and absolutely do not get into a #bars battle with Rapsody. You can send whatever shots you want, but Luke Cage is bulletproof and hatin’ on Rapsody will get you nowhere since she’s slander-proof. We gotta say though, what if Rapsody actually meant she’s a little clumsy at the bar? Like, she’ll take any liquor shot you send her way but might spill a little bit of her chaser. Nah? Okay, just saying, though. What if?

[title type=”h4″]10. Sammus on “Comments Disabled”[/title]
10-sammus-on-comments-disabled
Lyrics: Call me Cage / Take your pick /
Nick, Lucas, and Johnny too

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Damn, there are some dope Cage’s out there. Sammus mentioned three here, but there’s also the rapper Cage, Cage Midwell, David Cage, Michael Cage, Xander Cage… We could go on and on. We love this line though because it’s a geeky play on those “anyone, person 1, person 2, person 3” lines that other rappers do. Like Biggie’s famous “I perform like Mike. Anyone, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson…” on “Victory”. Remember that? Of course you do. We mean, you better.

[title type=”h4″]9. Sir Michael Rocks on “Raiden”[/title]
9-sir-michael-rocks-on-raiden
Lyrics: On Warcraft, say you raiding n***** /
But I never see you n***** get online

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@ em or dap em, yo. This line is hilarious because Mikey’s bein’ straight hood about a MMORPG, calling out whoever is talkin that shit in the game but not bein ‘bout it. We already know that stereotypes about geeks, blacks, and rappers are plain silly, but we’re still always tickled by juxtapositions like this. It’s also kinda reminiscent of “Twitter fingers turn to trigger fingers.”

[title type=”h4″]8. Robb Bank$ on “Get It B4 I Die”[/title]
8-robb-bank-on-get-it-b4-i-die
Lyrics: Magnet style, kekkei genkai, I’m so attractive
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Robb Bank$ never fails to deliver a clever Naruto reference. Peep this: Magnet style. I’m so attractive. Magnets attract, right? Wow. But wait, there’s more. Magnet style is a kekkei genkai ability, which are passed down genetically within specific clans. Sort of like how Bank$’ anime-style gorgeousness was passed down from his parents. Swoon.

[title type=”h4″]7. Sir Michael Rocks on “Raiden”[/title]
7-sir-michael-rocks-on-raiden
Lyrics: You know the drill like Simon and Kamina
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‘Ay man, if you haven’t yet watched Gurren Lagann, you need to get on that. We’ll wait for you to name a hotter duo than Simon (pronounced See-moan) and Kamina but in the meantime, here’s what you need to know. Simon and Kamina knew what they had to do, what we typically call “the drill”. But #levels. What they had to do involved an actual drill. Boom. Add that simple cleverness to the fact that Gurren Lagann is an undermentioned favorite anime of ours and you understand why it made the list. Thank you.

[title type=”h4″]6. MF DOOM on “Super Hero” by Kool Keith featuring MF Doom[/title]
6-mf-doom-on-super-hero
Lyrics: Web slinger need a beat, well black him out /
Flank him out, test his spidey senses on his bank account

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“Damn, why they gotta stick me for my paper” – Spider-Man after being assaulted by MF DOOM and Kool Keith. It may be hard to stomach the thought of a beloved emcee like MF DOOM advocating for violence against our friendly neighborhood hero. But then you remember that MF DOOM is inspired by an actual villain so it all makes sense. And to be honest, Spider-Man hasn’t personally done anything for us and these student loans are still looking crazy. So maybe DOOM is onto something.

[title type=”h4″]5. Pusha T on “H.G.T.V. Freestyle”[/title]
5-pusha-t-on-hgtv-freestyle
Lyrics: I walk amongst the clouds so your ceilings ain’t real /
These n***** Call of Duty cause their killings ain’t real

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Ouch. We’d prefer everyone play video games instead of participating in IRL violence, but Pusha does a good job of making us feel a little bad for peeps telling tall tales for street cred. This line was also a top pick for us because it’s more clever than the common “guns like Call of Duty” lines that we usually hear. Where’s the new album at, though?

[title type=”h4″]4. Robb Bank$ on “Stunt-man”[/title]
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Lyrics: Codeine castle, Red Women like Stannis /
Bling bling, mad king / Know I do magic

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Aight, there’s a whole lot of Game of Thrones going on in these bars for us to discuss. So let’s first say that this makes the list because it’s simply fun to say, flows nicely, and then there’s the #levels. Ready?

So Robb Bank$ starts off with a codeine castle and mentions red women and Stannis. Okay, Stannis has a castle in Westeros and kept Melissandre, the Red Woman, by his side. Makes sense. But what is Robb Bank$ saying about himself? Well, codeine is commonly found red. Codeine Red. So Robb’s Codeine Castle is a castle with women high on red codeine by his side. Codeine Red Women, woooow.

Then there’s the fact that the “bling bling” part could be a shout-out to the double cup sippin’, “bling bling” originator, Lil’ Wayne. Weezy is somewhat a mad king of hip-hop, while Robb Bank$ is this mad (see: high) king in his own castle, and Stannis was a mad king in Westeros. Yes, thee Mad King is technically Aerys Targaryen, but we can all agree that Stannis was wildin’ enough with the Red Woman and her magic to be considered mad as well. We mean, Spoiler Alert: The guy co-signed his own daughter, who he loved dearly, being burned alive at the stake since the Red Woman said it would help him. So with the help of his own high ass Red Women, we’re sure Bank$ would think he can do magic, too.

[title type=”h4″]3. Chance The Rapper on “How Great” featuring Jay Electronica and My Cousin Nicole[/title]
3-chance-the-rapper-on-how-great
Lyrics: Any petty Peter Pettigrew could get the pesticide
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Rap that five times fast. Chance spit a nerdy threat that is sure to make any Potterhead geek out. It’s like the Harry Potter version of Lil Wayne’s famous “All rats gotta die, even Master Splinter.” Although unlike Master Splinter, Pettigrew was trash and both literally and figuratively a rat. Surely we can all agree he deserves hella pesticide and even the Avada Kedavra. Yeah, we said it.

[title type=”h4″]2. Rapsody on “#Goals”[/title]
2-rapsody-on-goals
Lyrics: You seen Stranger Things, the Will in me won’t let go /
I was born on two-one so Eleven is all I know

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Stranger Things was one of the best new shows of the year. We binge watched the entire season in 2 or 3 days, so of course we were hyped to hear Rapsody reference it. She really did the most with these lyrics, though. She could have easily stopped after the first line and won a spot on our list, but then she hadda go and bring Eleven into it.

If you’ve seen Stranger Things, you’re familiar with Will and his determination, which makes him a living double entendre worthy of Rapsody describing her own resolve. This Eleven thing, though? Eleven is a badass heroine in Stranger Things who you do not want to mess with. Rapsody says “eleven” is all she knows because she was born on two-one, the 21st. Two ones… Eleven. Shhh… can you hear that? That’s the sound of your mind exploding. But it’s gonna blow even more because maybe Rapsody also means that if 10 is the max on your scale of 1-10, going Eleven is still all she knows. Step it up, buddy.

[title type=”h4″]1. Robb Bank$ on “Innadat”[/title]
1-robb-banks-on-innadat
Lyrics: Got white boys comin’ back / I’m sellin’ Jon Snow
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Robb Bank$ won. Migos called it Hannah Montana. Meek Mill called it Justin Bieber. Everyone calls it Snow White. Calling cocaine a famous white person ain’t nothin’ new, but calling it Jon Snow in this instance was particularly amazing. Assuming you know nothing, like Jon Snow, allow us to break this down. Let’s go simple first.

Bank$ works with the generalization that white boys love coke. You sell them that Jon Snow cocaine it must be top notch since Jon Snow is a top notch hero. So of course they’re gonna come back, right? Yeah. And so this line is already cool since it made a drug dealing metaphor with a geeky ass reference. We love that, you know this by now.

But there’s more.

Spoiler Alert: At the end of Game of Thrones Season 5 Jon Snow, was brutally killed by his own men. Everyone was devastated. And we all had to wait a friggin year to find out what the hell was gonna happen next. We were all dying for a fix. It was crazy. So of course we all, white boys included, came back and lost our cot damn minds when we saw Jon Snow come back to life.

Here’s the other thing to consider, though. Maybe Robb Bank$’ cocaine is so dope it doesn’t just bring white boys back for more, it can actually bring them back to life like a White Walker. Crazy, right? #weebay

[title type=”h4″]The Wrap Up[/title]
After we made last year’s list we hoped that 2016 would bring us even more multilayered nerd bars and it’s safe to say we weren’t disappointed. Robb Bank$ and Rapsody killed it with Game of Thrones and Stranger Things metaphors while Sir Michael Rocks and Meechy Darko kept it fresh by referencing the undermentioned Gurren Lagann and Duke Nukem. But there are still plenty of other dope fandoms for rappers to explore, and we’re praying to the old gods and the new that we’ll hear them in 2017.

Steven Universe, Bayonetta, and Saga are still on our wish list from last year. But now we’re also itching to hear something about Oyasumi Punpun from the sad boys and girls. Oh, and we’d love to hear Princess Nokia reference Michiko since she held us down with clips in her “Nokia” video. And though we did hear “Dandy in Love” samples from Pouya and Penthouse Penthouse, we’re still waiting for someone to say something cool about the Dandy guy in space.

How about you? Let us know your favorite geeky lyrics of 2016 and what you hope to hear next year in the comments or on Twitter. Be sure to also follow us on Tumblr and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter for even more hip-hop geekery.

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  • Arpad Okay (@arpadokay)

    Princess Nokia’s Bart Simpson: “I really like Marvel cos characters look just like me / and women don’t have roles that make them look to sexually” …all of 1992 does it for me but the geek stuff is extra on point.

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