Detailed Guide to Rap and Hip Hop Collectibles

Detailed Guide to Rap and Hip Hop Collectibles


Detailed Guide to Rap and Hip Hop Collectibles 1Since the release of "Rapper's Delight" in 1979 by The Sugarhill Gang, rap music has been a vital and increasingly popular fixture in American pop music. Simultaneously hailed by fans and demonized by politicians, rap music has gone on to symbolize social movements as well as lend voice to a generation of people who were largely neglected by the popular music of their time. Now at the forefront of pop culture, the market and demand for collectibles dedicated to the rap and hip hop genre has expanded greatly.

With songs ranging from novelty to hardcore social commentary, it took rap music several years to find a foothold in the public consciousness, but once it did, it grew into a cultural phenomenon that has showed no signs of slowing down or waning in popularity. The first major peak in mainstream popularity occurred in the early 1990s, thanks in large part to the success of acts like Run DMC and M.C. Hammer. The latter of which had a Saturday morning cartoon, a Pepsi spokesman deal, and a style that everyone emulated but few will admit today (I indeed had a pair of Hammer pants).

Detailed Guide to Rap and Hip Hop Collectibles 2With this mass commercialization comes a rise in collectibles and merchandise. The early 1990s are known as the junk wax era for baseball cards but the same name can apply to entertainment cards and any pop culture collectible. This guide compiles collectibles that may be of interest to fans as well as collectors, but excludes things like T-shirts, special edition albums, autographed photos, clothing lines, or framed memorabilia as it is easily accessible and too vast to cover effectively. We will be focusing on the ever-expanding selection of action figures, trading cards, and comic books.

Rap and hip hop continues to be very popular among music listeners and with the more recent release of Straight Outta Compton, some of the "old school" names that children of the 80s grew up with are enjoying a bit of a resurgence in mainstream culture (even The Fat Boys have reunited). Click through the tabs to find a collection you're interested in and follow any of the headings to purchase some of these unique and valuable collectibles.

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Top Rap and Hip Hop Figures

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Funko Pop! Rocks - Rap Stars

As with virtually every other thing that has ever existed, Funko has a series of Pop! figures devoted to the biggest names in music. The Pop! Rocks line includes legends like The Beatles, The Sex Pistols, KISS, The Ramones, Ozzy Osbourne and Michael Jackson, and also a handful of rap superstars.

Not just limited to basic choices, the figure for Notorious B.I.G. also comes in a metallic variant sold exclusively at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con and regularly goes for 10+ times than original retail value. Regular figures for Run DMC and Public Enemy are increasing in value as their discontinued figures become harder to track down in retail shops.

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  • 9 - Run (Run DMC)
  • 10 - DMC (Run DMC)
  • 11 - Jam Master Jay (Run DMC)
  • 15 - Chuck D
  • 16 - Flavor Flav
  • 18 - Notorious B.I.G.
    • Metallic 2011 SDCC Alternate (Limited to 240)
  • 19 - Tupac

Funko Urban Vinyl Rap Stars

Separate from their Pop! Rocks figures, Funko released a line of figures under the Urban Vinyl label. These figures are more realistic caricatures and can range in value considerably. Like the Notorious B.I.G. Pop! Rocks, there are a handful of variants in this series that, naturally, command a higher price point than their base set counterparts. If you're a fan of Run DMC, you'll have a harder time tracking down these figures as they are the most rare of the series to appear on the secondary market.

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  • Chuck D
  • DMC
  • Flavor Flav
  • Notorious B.I.G.
    • Metallic alternate, 2011 SDCC Toy Tokyo (Limited to 240)
    • Metallic alternate, 2011 NYCC Toy Tokyo (Limited to 240)
  • Run
  • Tupac
    • Metallic alternate, 2011 NYCC Toy Tokyo (Limited to 240)

Mezco Toyz Rap Stars

Mezco Toyz is known for their action figures ranging from Batman to Breaking Bad to Chucky. Their series of rap star action figures are much more realistic than any of the Funko figures and stand about 9 inches tall. The packaging for the Public Enemy figures and the Notorious BIG figure are completely different and the BIG figure comes with several alternates. Although these are listed as "Rap Stars" in a series, they were not released or branded as such.

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  • Chuck D
  • Flavor Flav
  • Notorious B.I.G.
    • Black suit
    • White jacket, red shirt
    • Blue hat and shirt
    • White suit

Kidrobot Limited Edition Figures

Kidrobot is sort of the "indie" label for vinyl figures but they have made a huge name for themselves by acquiring licenses from big shots like DC, Marvel, The Simpsons, and Looney Tunes. Their product line, which makes no mention of these rap figures anymore, are all limited edition and most of their figures appreciate in value.

Though they never produced a dedicated line of rap figures, there are several that can be found on the secondary market. This is a rare occasion of finding MF Doom memorabilia and, because of that rarity, his figure can sell for several hundred dollars

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  • MF Doom
    • Gray suit
    • Green suit
  • Snoop Dogg

Various Others

In addition to what has been referenced above, there have been dozens of figures released over the years, often as one-offs and not part of a series, devoted to rap and hip hop stars. Tracking them down can be a challenge and their prices can get a little steep due to the limited and rare nature of their releases. Here are a few examples that may be of interest to collectors.

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Top Rap and Hip Hop Trading Cards

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Pro Set Yo! MTV Raps Series 1 & 2, 1991, 1992

Yo! MTV Raps was the first program on MTV (readers older than 30 will remember that they were once a music video network) that presented rap content exclusively. The show, which was two hours long, ran daily from 1988 to 1991 and then late night on Friday's until 1995 and is often credited for aiding in the mass popularity of rap music.

In 1991, as ratings began to tumble, Pro Set released a set of trading cards branded with the Yo! MTV Raps branding. The set, included in our list of the worst sets of all time, features a handful of artists that you'll know today but also a lot more artists that you probably didn't even know in 1991. With series one and two combined, there are 150 horrifyingly 90s cards in the set and you can often find complete sets for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

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Premier Rap Pack, 1991

Not to be outdone by the sheer magnitude of the Pro Set product, Premier released their 150-card set devoted to the rap legends of the time. This set has considerably fewer day glow and glamour shots and sticks more to promotional stills without flashy borders and overlays. The set also seems to be popular for the few cards of Kid Rock who was, at the time, still a kid and, overall, the artists depicted are more popular now than many in the MTV set.

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AAA Sports Decision '92, 1992

If you're looking for a set that includes cards of a moose, George Bush in running shorts, Murphy Brown, and Ice T, this is the set you've been waiting your whole life for. Focused on the 1992 US Presidential campaign, card number 80, titled "Rap Music" explains that rap has become a hot political topic and that Ice T is at the center of it all. The reverse of the card includes his quote, "that rap is considered more dangerous than heavy metal, even Satan worship, only shows where American's fear lies."

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Famous Fabrics Music, Music, Music, 2012

This high end collection of music artifacts by Famous Fabrics includes a dual memorabilia of MC Hammer and Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer and Usher, and single memorabilia patches of those artists (and more) as well as autographs. These cards are easy to find online, often in graded condition, and can range in price considerably.

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Leaf Pop Century & Topps Allen and Ginter, multi-year

As with many celebrities, rap stars often find themselves the subjects of cards in the entertainment genre. Coolio, Too $hort, DMX, and 50 Cent all appear in some iterations of Leaf's Pop Century series' while Allen and Ginter has included Snoop Lion in their 2014 line with signed versions. Keep an eye on these sets in your search for rap cards as well as in the future as more artists are sure to be added to popular sets like these.

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Top Rap and Hip Hop Comic Books

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Rock N' Roll Comics #19 and #40, 1991

Issue number 19 of Revolutionary's series of Rock n' Roll Comics tells the unauthorized tale of 2 Live Crew and Public Enemy while issue #40 tackles the story of Ice Cube and N.W.A. These are the only two issues thus far to tell the story of a rap artist. The comics were fairly popular upon release and are very easy to purchase online.

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Public Enemy Comics, 2006

American Mule published five comics (#0-4) based on the group Public Enemy who, in the story, moonlight as freedom fighters along with a group called the Underground Railroad. The entire series of comics is fairly easy to track down for a reasonable price.

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Hip Hop Family Tree, 2013

This series of graphic novels - there are three in total - tell the history of hip hop music from its roots in the 1970s until 1984. The editions are very easy to find anywhere comic books are sold online and a forthcoming cartoon deal may make demand for these comics go on the rise.

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Tony Frye

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Tony is a musician and writer in the SF bay area and is a former contributor to The Cardboard Connection.

User Comments

  1. This is a great little list. I remember the Pro Set cards, but I had never seen the Premier cards. So I found them on Ebay and ordered them! Now I think I’m going to order the Pro Set ones too! Ah, the good ol’ days…

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