The Best Star Wars References in the History of Rap Music
When Han shot first, a small, green bounty hunter met his ignominious end. But Greedo lives on in rap lyrics—along with Mace Windu, Qui-Gon, and that poor tauntaun that kept Luke warm. Much to our delight, rap and Star Wars are as near and dear to each other as Han and Chewie.
Our friends at Genius scraped the lyrics to millions of songs to find all the Star Wars references by notable rappers, and as far as we can tell, the first Star Wars bars (Star Bars?) were in Kool Moe Dee’s 1987 classic, “How You Like Me Now.” Granted, the line—comin’ back like Return of the Jedi/sucka MCs in the place that said I/could only rock rhymes and only rock crowds/but never rock records: how ya like me now?—reflected the rhyme schemes of the time. For something a little more involved, check out “Just Rhymin’ with Biz,” which Biz Markie dropped the following year: “I watched Star Wars just to see Yoda/Or R2-D2 driving down the BQ.” (That’s the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, for you fans beyond NYC.)
But while Kool Moe Dee might take gold for the earliest reference—at least according to Genius—that’s not the only medal out there. To find the real Jedi MCs, we sifted the data to find the best lightsaber reference, the best Obi-Wan Kenobi rhyme, and the best Star Wars diss. (Of course it involves Jar Jar.) And then we scoured the galaxy to determine the greatest honor of them all: The rapper with whom the Force is most strong.
Our Favorite Star Wars Rhymes
Although Wu-Tang Clan has made 10 references to Star Wars, Eminem is the one rapper for whom MC stands for MidiChlorians. Thanks to the Yoda of Rap—that’d be producer Rick Rubin—Marshall Mathers has grown from a young padawan into a Jedi Knight. His 12 references mention ewoks that pop Reeboks and cast himself on both sides of the Force, once as Obi-Wan and many times as Darth Vader. But our favorite line compares the real Slim Shady to slave Leia at her most badass: Jabba the Hutt/beddy-bye-bye-/beddy-bye-bye/it’s time to die-die he raps on “Stay Wide Awake.”
As far as references to Star Wars characters go, it’s no surprise Darth Vader tops the list. After all, he’s got the wicked rep, the awesome power, and a name that’s just asking to be rhymed, from hater to Bapester (Yung Lean) to Decatur (Big Boi). And rappers reference more than his evil and his strength. On “Beast Mode,” Ludacris pays homage to the Sith Lord for his lineage: My styles are goin’ into labor/So if stars wanna war, I’m their daddy like Darth Vader.
As the character with the most bling of all, C-3PO might be distressed to learn how rarely he’s name-dropped. (Still, he’s mentioned more often than Leia, who only gets two mentions, which is wrong on so many levels because she’s badass.) His count rises when you factor in the rappers who use the protocol droid as reference for a parole officer. Kanye did it on “Blessings” and Big Sean did it on “Celebrity”), but Method Man puts it most eloquently on “Rap Phenomenon” when he raps, Star Wars, I’m Han Solo with three egos/and three charges, I gotta see three P.O.s.
As far as locations, rappers tend to opt for the Death Star, though Mos Eisley gets some occasional love. And if you’re looking for a new nickname, Cleveland, might we suggest “Cloud City” in homage to the lone reference Lando’s turf gets from Machine Gun Kelly?
Depending upon how you feel about the furry bipeds of Endor, you’d be surprised how often rappers mention ewoks. But you shouldn’t be surprised to learn lightsabers get by far the most mentions. And some of the best references don’t even mention them by name. In “Gone Insane,” Ab-Soul raps, Skywalker in the blunt/Darth Vader in the cup. For a clue, (always) look to the lightsaber: Luke’s is green (marijuana), and Vader’s is (cough syrup). We always wondered why Mace Windu wields a purple lightsaber, but never thought it might indicate a penchant for sizzurp.
But, of course, it’s how rappers make references to these lightsabers and Wookiees that charms us. And some of the most charming of all are the Star Wars references that only die-hard fans would recognize—or put into their raps.
As for the Best Extended Universe Theory? For that one, we’ve got to go back to the Jedi Master of Star Wars rap. In “Rain Man,” Eminem lays out a complicated situation in which Darth Vader forms an alliance with Lex Luthor and kills Superman, after Eminem puts stickers of all three of them next to each other on his fridge. Forget Rogue One—after The Force Awakens, we want to watch that.