Way back in 1991, a parachute pants-wearing rapper named MC Hammer got his own cartoon. Some people watched it, more people didn’t, and before long it was off the air. But the show proved inspirational to every rapper who came after Hammer and wanted to get into the cartoon game. And there have been a lot, from Snoop and David Banner to the latest, T.I. Tip recently announced that he’s hard at work on producing a show called “Lil Homies,” which will be about a group of kids in the ‘hood. T.I. will channel his inner Morgan Freeman and handle narration duties for the show.
Now that we’re talking about rappers and their cartoons, what better time to take a trip down memory lane and peek at the animated works of other MCs? Here are our favorites.
Back in 1991, at the height of Hammer’s fame, ABC gave the sequin-loving emcee his own Saturday morning cartoon. “Hammerman” was about a schlub named Stanley Burrell (that’s Hammer’s real name) who is transformed into a superhero when he puts on a pair of magical dancing shoes. Unfortunately for kids who love polyester, “Hammerman” only lasted 13 episodes before it was canceled. Hammer himself didn’t last much longer.
“Class of 3000″ told the story of Sunny Bridge, a superstar musician who won 27 Grammys and a Nobel Prize. But after finding out that the lifestyle of money, cash and ho’s didn’t appeal to him, he moved back home to Atlanta and started teaching. What a mensch! “Class of 3000″ lasted two seasons and 22 episodes, which makes it the “Simpsons” of hip-hop cartoons.
Never one to shy away from a little social commentary, David Banner used his cartoon on Adult Swim to address issues of class, race and food. “The Crook’d ‘Sipp” was about a white family in modern-day Mississippi who still behaves like it’s the 1800s. Banner did some voice work on the show as Virgil, a progressive black restaurant owner/rapper whose life shares a lot of similarities to Banner’s. The first episode aired on May 13, 2007. Unfortunately, so did the last one.
A year before Hammer hit it big on Saturday mornings, the Biz was supposed to himself. His show, “The Adventures of Mouth Man,” would have been about a man from another planet born without a mouth. Sounds confusing, right? Maybe that’s why the show never actually made it to air. Biz’s failure to get his own show didn’t scare him away from cartoons though. In 1996 he lent his voice to “Schoolhouse Rock” and banged out the video above.
Just like the Biz, Snoop had the chance to make a cartoon but it never made it on the air. Back in 2008, Variety reported that Comedy Central ordered a pilot for an unnamed show about Snoop’s teenage years in Long Beach. We haven’t heard a thing about it since. Even though Snoop couldn’t get his own show off the ground, he’s voiced animated characters before, like Macktastic, a member of Thugnificent’s Lethal Interjection Crew on “The Boondocks” (above).
When T-Pain got his turn to make a cartoon he decided to break away from the series mold and go all out with one big crazy production. “Freaknik the Musical” was a 44-minute extravaganza that featured tons of voices from the hip-hop world (Lil Wayne, Young Cash, Snoop Dogg and Rick Ross) and the comedy world (Andy Samberg and Charlie Murphy). The film (we guess you can call it that) is about a group of bored kids who make their way to a revived Freaknik festival. Fans ate the show up, making it the second most-viewed Adult Swim show of the year behind “The Boondocks.” The ladies at Essence magazine, on the other hand, didn’t like it so much.
Who says cartoons have to be on TV? “Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em: The Animated Series” was a web series starring an animated Soulja Boy and a live action Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton from “The Fresh Prince”). In the series, Soulja Boy is forced to return to high school, where he constantly tortures his principal, played by Ribeiro. Unfortunately, Ribeiro doesn’t dance.