The internet’s greatest gift is showing us how similar we all are. As if we all grew up in the same household, the internet gives us access to countless narratives we identify with. Like how across oceans, Black and Asian kids would wait for their favorite anime to play on the TV screen simultaneously. From hip hop and food, to anime and political allies, Black and Asian culture has always had a seamless exchange. Every black boy you grew up with loves DragonBall Z. Asian people have an extensive history of hip hop appreciation, from the Teriyaki Boyz to the B-boys. Anime is a staple in a lot of black childhoods and has influenced our culture. We see a growing black presence in cosplay and more mainstream artists with lyrics or videos inspired by their favorite Japanese animations. To reiterate this connection, here are our favorite musical anime references!
Lil Uzi Vert – Sasuke
Lil Uzi Vert is arguably the most accurate physical representation of anime and hip-hop’s fusion. This single, “Sasuke”, adds to his long list of Naruto references. Both verses repeat Sasuke Uchiha’s name, referencing his choice of weapon in the series.
LAYA – Sailor Moon
Blending clips of the show and her cosplay, LAYA references Sailor Moon and 90s R&B in this track titled “Sailor Moon”. “Changing form, for you, I’d slay a raging swarm of demons I ain’t afraid no more” LAYA sings of a love that she will go to the moon to protect.
Megan Thee Stallion – Running Up Freestyle
Yellow diamonds Pikachu/ When I switch my hair to blonde I’m finna turn up like GokuMegan Thee Stallion – Running Up Freestyle
From her nail art, to landing a deal with Crunchyroll, Megan Thee Stallion (also known as Todoroki Tina) always shares her love for anime. And of course that includes her bars. “Running Up Freestyle” from her 2019 album, Fever, was originally a ‘Fire In The Booth’ freestyle. The hotties were glad that this song, referencing Pokemon and DragonBall Z, made it to a permanent project.
Anonymuz – Urameshi
Anonymuz’s 2017 EP aptly titled Urameshi, features five songs, with three of the song titles named after YuYu Hakusho characters, Yusuke Urameshi, Hiei, and Kurama. Throughout the album, Anonymuz references the trio’s abilities and relates them to his own. There is also one title reference to Mobile Unit Gundam Wing.
I can see you with my third eye/ I prefer blind for the first time/ Burn ties I deserve mine I’m the worst guyAnonymuz – Hiei
Thundercat – Dragonball Durag
On his fourth album, It Is What It Is, Thundercat promotes his merch on the funky single about casual love, “Dragonball Durag”. The video features Quinta Brunson and Kali Uchis as uninterested love interests and notably Thundercat’s purple durag printed with Dragon Balls. These products were released for purchase soon after the song. If Lil Uzi Vert is the physical representation of anime and hip-hop’s fusion, Thundercat has the best merch representing the connection. Hands down.
Kanye West – Stronger
Called the “greatest animation achievement in history” by Kanye West, Akira is a film released in 1988 and set in 2019. Although also referenced by other artists like Logic and Robb Bank$, the film resonated deeply with Kanye. So much so, that he recreated scenes from Akira in his video for the 2009 hit, “Stronger”.
Christian Rich – SHIBUYA (GHOST II) ft. Jaden, Vic Mensa, Belly
Chicago duo, Christian Rich tapped Jaden Smith, Vic Mensa, and Belly for this single “Shibuya (Ghost II)”. The video features afro-futuristic animation that left viewers commenting and calling for a full series. Although not referencing a direct anime, this visual represents the product of a generation raised watching them.