Rap and anime are like salt and caramel — not an intuitive match, but a delightful one. Most referenced among rap superstars like Lupe Fiasco, Soulja Boy and RZA is the classic ’90s staple Dragon Ball Z, your childhood five o’clock Toonami fixture.
Illustration by Angelica Alzona
“Bitch, I look like Goku“: Soulja Boy
With 291 episodes, each slowed by countless minutes of grunting and staring, Dragon Ball Z isn’t exactly the most obvious cult classic. But pacing aside, what Dragon Ball Z was good at was hype. When Goku’s spirit bomb crushes Majin Buu after dozens of episodes of tension, that shit was magnificent. When Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2 to defeat cell after Goku, his dad, sacrifices himself, don’t tell me you weren’t shooting Go-Gurt through your nose (you were also probably 10).
Lil B, who I learned last week is a DBZ nut, is the master of hype. He’s so hyped that, in 2011, P Diddy acted as his hype man at South by Southwest. He’s so hyped that he has 1.32 million Twitter followers. He’s so hyped that he has decided that he is the Based God, some ineffable deity. He’s so hyped that my housemate has a Lil B coffee mug, his favourite coffee mug, and doesn’t really listen to him. So, it makes sense that the Based God fucks with DBZ.
It’s fun to imagine kid-Lil B, now 27, also sitting on his parents’ couch, yelling at Krillin to get himself together.
and of course I'm a huge dragon ball z fan I hav all the game dbz budaki three tenchi.. omg.
— Lil B THE BASEDGOD (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) July 20, 2009
Last week, I spoke with the Based God about why fans are photoshopping him with anime waifus, his rare comics collection and going to the otaku store with Soulja Boy.
Kotaku: I saw those pictures on Facebook the other day, of you with the Madoka Magica girl.
Lil B: My fans keep sending me those.
Kotaku: What are your favourite anime?
Lil B: I’m a Gundam Wing guy. A Dragon Ball Z guy. That’s about me. You know what I’m saying?
Kotaku: Do you watch a lot of anime?
Lil B: Not all the time, but my boy, Soulja Boy, is a big anime guy. When I was in Atlanta with him, he was at the anime store, buying stuff. He’s down with that. I’m a big comic book collector. I collect big old school comics. Anime-wise, I like Gundam Wing. I come from that era.
Kotaku: You and Soulja Boy went to the anime store together? What was that like?
Lil B: Not too far from his pad, he was like, ‘Wanna go check out this store?’ I was like, definitely. It ends up being an anime and comic book store. He really knows about the anime. He’s really into it. He has his shows he watches. It was exciting.
Kotaku: What do you like about DBZ?
Lil B: I really like how it’s drawn. I think aside from the storyline, the artists did an amazing job with the Dragon Ball Z characters. They look amazing. From Frieza to the Cell Saga, Piccolo to Majin Buu. I love all that. Digimon. You know what time it is. There’s some good stuff out there, now, definitely. I’m gonna make sure I’m up on all my anime.
I do have some drawers that do anime I’m fans of. I see a lot of artists drawing anime on Deviantart.
Kotaku: You go on Deviantart?
Lil B: Yeah, a lot of anime illustrators post work there. I like the art.
Kotaku: What comics are you collecting?
Lil B: I just bought a bunch of rare Marvel comics. I just got some Alien Vs. Predator. I bought a bunch of old comics, Superman/Aliens. I got some rare X-Men comics. There are so many. I’m a real big fan of early X-Men stuff. X-force. Alien: Resurrection — huge fan of that. I just collect those. Those are my favourites right now. I have a private collection of art and comics I’ll be releasing to the public real soon.
Kotaku: Where will it go?
Lil B: You’ll have to see. With video games, I’m a big, big fan of Metal Gear. Big. I love the art. And the early Final Fantasies. Final Fantasy VII!
Kotaku: Will you get Final Fantasy XV when it comes out?
Lil B: No, I can’t lie. I dropped off at VII. I played on PlayStation. I actually have this rare Final Fantasy game that’s not an RPG. It’s a fighting game, but it’s Final Fantasy. I hear a lot of people talking about Shenmue. A lot of people don’t know, for the sake of Shenmue fans, they came out with Shenmue on Xbox. A lot of people didn’t play that. They only played it on Dreamcast.
Kotaku: Anything you want to add?
Lil B: I want to collab with one of the best drawers. Let the anime drawers know. I want to pick out the best one.