By: Daniel Hodgman
Star Wars Episode 7 is happening. In fact, a whole new trilogy of Star Wars movies is in the works. Are you ready?
Although Star Wars hasn’t seen a bright light since Return of the Jedi, it is undoubtedly one of the greatest names in pop culture. The film series has spawned a whole new expanded universe with books, shows, video games, short films and Wookiepedia, and even if you don’t like the series, millions on millions of people do.
One of the most interesting things about Star Wars has been that of the Jedi, the mysterious spiritual organization that studies the force. The whole lightsaber weapon thing is cool, and the ability to throw people without touching them is nice too, but the concept behind the Jedi keeping peace and justice in the galaxy has always fascinated me the most. Struck with a code of ethics, Jedi practice the force through passive meditation and a commitment to justice. The Jedi are in fact the greatest thing George Lucas has ever invented, sans Boba Fett.
So with that, Bonus Cut has decided to do a special Jedi hip-hop mash-up. In this scenario we recast some famous Jedi from the films, shows and video games and replace them with figures in hip-hop. Enjoy.
Dr. Dre as Yoda
Hear me out on this, because maybe I should explain this a bit. When you think of some of the most influential figures in hip-hop, who comes to mind? Tupac? KRS-One? Wu-Tang Clan? Jay-Z? Nas? Rakim? DJ Kool Herc? All of those names would be acceptable admissions, but what about Dr. Dre? When it’s all said and done, I think Dre will be considered one of the most influential and premier figures in the hip-hop archives. Not only was he one of the founding members and head-honchos for N.W.A., the most seminal act of west-coast hip-hop and gangsta rap, he was also a founding member of Death Row Records, Aftermath Records, and he introduced the world to Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Nate Dogg and Game. He produced Straight Outta Compton, Doggystyle, The Chronic, 2001, Tupac’s “California Love”, Eminem’s “My Name Is” and “Guilty Conscience” and a mess of other legendary hip-hop cuts (if you look at the list of singles Dre has produced from 1986 to 2013 you’ll be hard pressed to find a producer with THAT much success). On top of all this, Dr. Dre has appeared in movies like The Wash and Training Day, he’s now the CEO of Aftermath and Beats Electronics and Forbes has estimated that in 2012 Dre was worth $270 million. Dr. Dre is a producer, MC, entrepreneur, teacher and family man. No matter what he’s doing, he’s always changing hip-hop and shaping its future to a point where it goes unmatched.
So this is why Dr. Dre is Yoda, because in the Jedi universe Yoda is the most-recognized and influential. He’s the Grand Master of the Jedi Order and has trained other influential Jedi in his lifetime. It’s a debate whether or not Yoda is the most skilled Jedi of all time, but there’s no question that he’s the most influential, and that’s exactly where Dr. Dre stands.
Daniel Dumile as Anakin Skywalker and his alter-ego DOOM as Darth Vader
The story of Anakin Skywalker isn’t complicated, and by the end of The Empire Strikes Back everything is out there. Anakin’s transition from being a Jedi to Sith lord Darth Vader is best described as a man who changes his style and cops a mask. Daniel Dumile and one of his many alter-egos, DOOM, follows this transition quite well. With Dumile, he’s just a man with extreme talent living free, but when he switches to DOOM and puts on his mask, he’s the master villain of the underground hip-hop scene. Painting a vivid picture of murky rap through bars and b-movie samples, DOOM spits about villainous acts and even has his alter-ego extend past his music (like not showing up for concerts). Madvillainy and Operation: Doomsday are just two records with the DOOM moniker, and the vile and dark material dig much deeper than the album titles.
Nas as Luke Skywalker
Let’s just note that Nas has a song called “Star Wars” and it’s great and yeah, moving on.
When I think of Luke Skywalker, I think of one of the greatest Jedi of all time with more room to shine. In the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke is still a relatively young man when the Empire falls. By the end of his reign, Luke is the Grand Master of the Jedi Order, a father and one hell of a swordsman. So with that being said, when I think of the Luke Skywalker of hip-hop, I think of one of the best in the game with more time left on his clock: Nas. The thing with Nas is that he’s one of the purest writers hip-hop has ever seen, and although Illmatic feels old at 19 years old now, Luke was only 19 when he blew up the first Death Star. You need more comparisons? Take a look at this:
Nas was 19 when he started working on his debut record Illmatic. At this point, he was a street observer sharing his stories through poetry. He was still young. At 19, Luke Skywalker was still that good ol’ farm boy from Tatooine.
Both of them were thrust to the top. Nas had Illmatic, one of the greatest records of all time, whereas Luke Skywalker just destroyed the Empire’s Death Star and was swimming in rebel accolades.
By their second stints, both Nas and Luke transitioned into badasses. Nas released his second record It Was Written, which was an album that turned Nas towards mafioso rap styles and tendencies. He also established The Firm (Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature), and had features on Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…. and Mobb Deep’s The Infamous. At this point, Nas was no longer the kid from Queensbridge repping Illmatic; he was Escobar, the badass Kingpin of hip-hop. Comparatively, by the second Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is thrust into a much bigger role. He flies snowspeeder’s and takes down huge Imperial walker’s, he trains with Yoda (I also must note that if we stick with Dr. Dre being Yoda, this is another parallel, because Nas and Dre teamed up on “Nas Is Coming” off of It Was Written), he tries to fight Darth Vader with inadequate skills, finds out Darth Vader is his father and loses an arm in the process. Luke may not be Luke the Escobar, but he’s still a badass.
If you want more comparisons, you should realize that both Nas and Luke are teachers. Nas is one of the more influential figures in hip-hop, single-handedly making concept hip-hop records and kids on album covers trendy, while Luke on the other hand becomes a teacher at a Jedi school (Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy) and teaches the Force to students like Kyle Katarn and Jaden Korr.
The main, and perhaps only important reason why these two are similar is that they’re two of the best in their field. “I am the truest,” Nas spits on “Ether”. “Name a rapper that I ain’t influenced.” Ah yes, I can see Mark Hamill nodding along as I speak.
Big L as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Besides Luke, Vader and Yoda, I’d like to think that Obi-Wan is the most popular Jedi. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way–because in actuality, I’m not equating popularity to anything for this piece–here are some distinct traits that I’m focusing on with Obi-Wan:
He’s quick. No really, this dude is quick. Even for an old man with a busted up lightsaber, Obi-Wan was still able to sneak around the Death Star, decode the defense system and handle Darth Vader (to a point). In the prequels, he defeats Darth Maul’s two-sided red stick of death, holds his own against the four-sabered General Grievous and nearly destroys Anakin on some volcano planet way out in the boonies. If not for his quick moves and lateral thinking, Obi-Wan would probably be one of the Jedi’s that gets struck down with Palpatine’s blade within five seconds (see: Revenge of the Sith).
Secondly, Obi-Wan is smart. But even more so, he’s a quick-thinker. If Obi-Wan could freestyle, he’d be one of the best. JEDI MIND TRICKS YALL!
Lastly, Obi-Wan is underrated. Now, it may seem like “underrated” is thrown around a lot these days, but let’s be honest, when you think Star Wars and Jedi, I’m pretty sure Obi-Wan isn’t the first name that pops up. The truth is, he may be the greatest Jedi ever.
All of these traits are Obi-Wan’s main features, which leads me to this: Big L is Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Look, I think a lot of “who’s the greatest in hip-hop?” talk is stupid, because limiting the history of the culture to a couple of names is unfair to everyone, but it’s interesting to see what names come up. Most of the time when discussing this, I hear a lot of Tupac, Rakim, DJ Kool Herc and Nas, among others. The truth however is that most of the time Big L rarely comes up. The other day Vinnie Paz published an article where he asked people in the hip-hop world to name some of the best MC’s of all time, and although Big L made many lists, I find it hard to get his name out among my community. To put it in a different perspective, you won’t hear Big L as much as Tupac or The Notorious B.I.G., but in my mind Big L is on the same level. Maybe it’s because Big L was taken before his time, but when considering, at the very least, the five best MC’s of all time, Big L should be on a majority of people’s lists.
As for comparing him to Obi-Wan, let’s just look at it simplistically. Like Jedi Master Kenobi, Big L is a quick thinker and swift behind the mic. His delivery is as close to perfect as one could be, and you can never hear L stretching bars to fit in a rhyme. On his famous “’98 Freestyle”, where he spits over a Lord Finesse beat on The Stretch Armstrong/Bobbito Show, Big L flexes his intuition and smarts:
“Corleone hold the throne, that you know in your heart
I got style plus the way that I be flowing is sharp
A while back I used to hustle, selling blow in the park
Counting g stacks and rocking ice that glow in the dark
Forever hottie hunting, trigger temper I’m quick to body something
You looking at me like I’m probably fronting
I fuck around and throw three in your chest and flee to my rest
I’m older and smarter this is me at my best”
And then there are the punchlines. Along with complicated bars and effortless slinging, Big L slept with punchlines every night.
“Fucking punk, you ain’t a leader what, nobody followed you
You was never shit, your mother should have swallowed you”
And then there’s this, the gem.
“Turn your tux red, I’m far from broke, got enough bread
And mad hoes, ask Beavis I get nothing Butthead”
If Obi-Wan can outwit and outplay Imperial stormtroopers and evil Sith Lords, Big L can outwit and outplay everyone in hip-hop.
One last thing to note is that both Obi-Wan and Big L had tragic deaths. I hate comparing an actual life to a fictional character, and for that I apologize, but Obi-Wan died at the hands of Darth Vader, the very man he taught the Force to. Big L died in 1999 after being shot nine times in a drive-by shooting in Harlem. Both are tragic stories to say the least. Again, I apologize for comparing Lamont Coleman’s (Big L) death to that of a fictional character. Rhyme in peace. One love.
Kanye West as Senator Palpatine and Kanye West as Emperor Palpatine
Here’s the honest truth and I’m taking it to my grave: I WILL ALWAYS BE ONE OF THOSE KANYE FANS WHO THINKS THE WORLD OF COLLEGE DROPOUT AND LATE REGISTRATION. I GAVE GRADUATION A CHANCE AND CAN HAND-PICK A BUNCH OF SONGS WORTH PLAYING. 808s & HEARTBREAK GREW ON ME AND THEN IT FELL OFF THE MAP. MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY IS FANTASTIC BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT’S OVERRATED. YEEZUS IS MEDIOCRE AT BEST.
See, I vividly remember the first time I heard Kanye West. It was 2005, I was a freshman in high school, and my good friend Joe bought College Dropout from a catalog. We played it. We played it again. And then we ended up dishing it out to our friends. At the time, College Dropout was revolutionary for us. Never before had we gotten exposure to new hip-hop that was as monumental as a “Jesus Walks”, “Two Words” or “All Falls Down”, and it was at this point where I soon realized how hip-hop was evolving.
And then came the slow road to the evil Empire.
I’m not going to bore you with things you already know, so I’m just going to throw in Palpatine’s story real quick. For those of you that don’t know, Palpatine was a Senator in the Galactic Republic, until he somehow weaseled his way to ultimate power through deception and mad Sith skills. Eventually he becomes Emperor and all this weird stuff happens.
Anyway, whenever I think of Kanye West’s career and his publicity stunts and all of that, I think of Palpatine’s career and timeline. Oh how they’re similar. Another reason I linked the two is because of this: even when Palpatine is an old crusty emperor, he’s still kind of awesome at times (HE CAN SHOOT LIGHTNING FROM HIS FINGERS), which is comparable to Kanye, because MBDTF was pretty good and his baby is named North.
Tupac Shakur as Qui-Gon Jinn
There’s a short write-up on Tupac from hiphop365.com that explains him perfectly:
“Thug poet. Thug Martyr. Introspective rider and sensitive gangster. Pac was built of contradictions, all of which only furthered his myth as one of the lost giants of the game. Pac may be the only rapper to be bigger than the culture itself.” -via hiphop365.com
See, when you think of Tupac, you think of a legend, but even more so you think of someone bigger than life itself. I’ve always thought of Tupac as one of the finest figures to learn from, not just from someone in the hip-hop world, but from the world’s history as a whole. Yes, he mastered every little facet of rapping and writing, but more importantly, Pac was an individual who expressed concerns for the community. Michael Eric Dyson, author of Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, went on to say that Tupac “spoke with brilliance and insight as someone who bears witness to the pain of those who would never have his platform. He told the truth, even as he struggled with the fragments of his identity.”
Tupac’s legend will forever live on, and that’s why he’s Qui-Gon Jinn. The comparison is simple because I see it two ways. First, Qui-Gon Jinn was someone who got it, both on a spiritual level and physical level. Unlike most Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn lived in the moment and had an unorthodox approach to tackling life, and yet he did it for the best interests for those he loved. He was bound to the Force to help the greater good in an alternative way, but always saw results. Secondly, and this is important, Qui-Gon Jinn was the first Jedi to master becoming “one” with the Force, which means that he was able to communicate after his passing. In Revenge of the Sith, Yoda reveals this to Obi-Wan, and in Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan uses this very power to make an appearance before the closing credits. During the scene where the rebels and the Ewoks all celebrate, Obi-Wan can be seen with Yoda and Anakin (all three have passed at this point). They’re all holograms. Though Qui-Gon Jinn was never seen in the movies as a hologram, he was the first to master it, and subsequently taught it to Yoda, Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon Jinn was the original hologram. See where I’m going with this? Remember back in 2012 during the Coachella Festival when Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg unveiled Tupac as a 3D hologram? Yeah, that’s the connection I’m trying to make. Although, the Tupac hologram wasn’t the first ever, it was the first in 3D HD, so I’m using that.
Long story short, Tupac Shakur and Qui-Gon Jinn were innovators in their worlds, and without them, well, let’s just say both of our galaxies would be pretty damn shitty.
The following are not Jedi, nor will they ever be.
Gucci Mane as R2D2
Because of Gucci’s twitter rant on Monday, he’s R2D2. I hadn’t really noticed Gucci’s behavior until Monday, because, well, I don’t follow him, but HAVE YOU READ HIS TWITTER TIMELINE?! If you can understand more than 25% of the tweets he posts you deserve a gold star in twitter reading, because damn, just damn. I’d much rather read R2D2’s transcription in code than a day’s worth of Gucci Mane tweets.
DJ Khaled as C3PO
Whenever C3PO talks, people want to turn him off. Whenever DJ Khaled shouts “DEEEEEE JAYYYYY KHAAAAALED” I skip the song.