In hip-hop, a bar is simply a 4-beat line delivered in a song, known for being impactful, clever, and attention-grabbing. A bar can tell you a lot about an artist, including their woes, self-worth, tastes in fashion, and of course: their fandom.
Anime has been a prevalent topic in hip-hop culture for decades. It’s no secret that rappers like Robb Bank$ and Denzel Curry are huge anime fans which often comes up in their popular music.Here are examples of ten times rappers incorporated clever, dexterous lyrics centered around Japanese animation.
Lupe Fiasco: “Touch The Sky”
Anime referenced: Lupin The 3rd
In Ye’s braggadocious anthem “Touch The Sky,” Chi-town’s Lupe Fiasco kicks off the third verse with an iconic anime bar:
“Guess who’s on third? Lupe steals like Lupin the 3rd.”
Here, Fiasco pays homage to the classic series Lupin the 3rd: an anime that follows the adventures of the master thief Arsene Lupin III. Fiasco delivered a clever simile that also acts as a double entendre — Lupe being on third is literal since his verse is 3rd on the track. It’s also a term used in baseball when a player is on third base.
Denzel Curry: “Ultimate”
Anime referenced: Dragon Ball Z
In his 2015 breakout hit “Ultimate,” Curry delivered not one but two anime bars making it a hit among rap weebs. Just as Curry is picking up speed from the explosive chorus, he delivers an anime bar so swift it may have gone over people’s heads:
“Let him get the Senzu bean, so he regenerates.”
Here, Curry is referring to the popular anime Dragon Ball Z when he mentions Senzu eans: a mystical food that helps the consumer regain strength and heal.
Ski Mask The Slump God: “Catch Me Outside”
Anime referenced: Naruto
One of the most talked-about anime bars comes from Florida rapper Ski Mask The Slump God’s 2017 single: “Catch Me Outside.”
“Naruto nine-tailed fox coat fur (Naruto nine-tail)”
This line references Naruto’s Kurama: an over-powered Tailed Beast sealed inside Naruto that grants him god-like powers.
Viktor Vaughn: “Vaudeville Villain”
Anime referenced: Fist Of The North Star
To catch this obscure anime bar from the late British underground rapper Viktor Vaughn (a.k.a MF DOOM) listen to this track straight through.
“Or between Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Suichō Ken”
Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Suichō Ken are two rival martial arts styles in Fist of the North Star. Otakus appreciate this line by Viktor Vaughn for referencing an anime rarely found in hip-hop lyrics.
XXXtentacion: “PROUDCATOWNERREMIX (feat. Rico Nasty)”
Anime referenced: DBZ / One Piece / Pokemon
Before the tragic death of new-age rapper XXXtentacion, he blessed his fans with a discography filled with highly skilled emo Soundcloud-rap. He was a hit among hip-hop anime fans thanks to his constant references to the art style in songs like “Shining Like the Northstar” and “Inuyasha.”
One of his best anime bars comes from the 2017 track “PROUDCATOWNERREMIX ,” which features the fierce Maryland emcee Rico Nasty. The song is filled with anime bars including references to Dragonball Z (“ Yeah, my flow’s on Destructo Disc”), One Piece, (“My money stretching like Luffy, uh”), and Pokemon (“I’m used to shockin’ these b****** like Pikachu”).
Robb Bank$: “Flex City”
Animes referenced: Pokemon, One Piece, Akira, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z
New York-born Robb Bank$ is a trap Cloud rapper known for being an anime fanatic. Bank$ often talks about anime titles in his interviews or his hot takes on other rappers’ anime lyrics.
Throughout his 6-minute single, “Flex City,” Bank$ makes countless anime references, using some of the most anime bars found in a single hip-hop song. Nothing beats the four anime bars at the end of verse two, where Bank$ manages to cite Akira, Dragonball Z, and One Piece effortlessly at the same damn time:
“Yea boy I got cha’ bike like Kaneda like
And I got it all in separate jars like Akira
SS super soldier that purple c****** what a n**** bleed
Like a Namekian, but if you really need
I got them handfuls wrapped up like Rock Lee.”
Denzel Curry: “Dark Tournament Ft. Soulja Mook & K-Trip”
Animes Referenced: Yu-Yu Hakusho, Death Note, Soul Eater, Naruto, Bleach
Not only is the second verse in this throwback filled with anime bars, but the song’s name, “Dark Tournament,” is also a nod to the hit 90s shonen Yu-Yu Hakusho. Curry starts us off with a bar about Death Note: an anime about a young man with the ability to kill anyone he writes inside of an enchanted book.
“Killer, killer, killer, hitlist or that Death Note”
Shortly after, he spits an impressive quadruple entendre at lightning speed that had otakus buzzing all over the comment section on Youtube:
“Left hollow like Ichigo, Grim Reapers, and Soul Eaters.”
The line “Left hollow” refers to the penetrating impact of hollow-tip bullets and a species of evil spirits in Bleach, where the character Ichigo is from. Simultaneously, Grim Reapers are a reference to both the Shinigami in Bleach and a principal character in Soul Eater called Death.
Xavier Wulf: “Wulf Titan”
Animes referenced: Attack On Titan
In this mellow three-minute track by Tennessee rapper Xavier Wolf, he hits us with a slew of anime references that fans of Attack On Titan noticed immediately:
“Call me Eren Yeager, when I swing they say ‘Ooh’
Damn boy, I bet you knocked the shoulder blade loose
I say ‘Hell naw, I’m like an Armored Titan, fool
Titan Armor, Wulf style, now what you gonna do?”
“Eren Yeager” is the main protagonist in Attack On Titan. He joins special military force, the Survey Corps, to eradicate human-eating Titans. In the series, the Survey Corps use specialized equipment that helps them “swing” and maneuver through the air. The “Armored Titan” is a superpowered Titan with hardening abilities that make him hard to take down.
Burning Bridges: “Azizi Gibson”
Animes Referenced: One Piece
In 2013, LA-based rapper Azizi Gibson dropped his debut mixtape Ghost in the Shell — an obvious homage to the popular anime film of the same name. His single “Burning Bridges” is a boastful track that features a few nods to the popular pirate Shonen One Piece.
If you listen closely to the continuous verse, you can catch Gibson comparing himself to the series’ main protagonist Monkey D. Luffy “I’m Monkey D, I’m going power”. Shortly after, Gibson makes a subtle reference to eating “devil’s fruit” which is a mysterious fruit in One Piece that grants people permanent superhuman powers.
Ro Ransom – Leap Of Faith
Anime Referenced- Soul Eater
New York’s own Ro Ransom wastes no time before hitting us with an anime reference in his 2012 single “Leap Of Faith.”
“Two girls with me like I’m Death The Kid”.
“Death The Kid” is a character in Soul Eater. In the series, Death The Kid travels with “two girls” who double as his weapons and help him defeat soul-devouring spirits. Kicking the song off with a rare anime reference added an extra layer of appeal for rap weebs who have admittedly replayed the song just to hear this line.
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Kaillaby is a writer from The Bronx with infectious high energy and a passion for geek culture. She loves connecting with Blerds like herself and hopes to create her own cartoon someday.