Saying one person looks and acts like another person, especially when referencing pop culture, shouldn’t be as much fun as it is, but yet it remains one of the internet’s finest gifts. It’s a never-ending, benign game full of creativity and humor that fuels our very souls, and in is no way over dramatic. We as a society like contextualization, especially when we can bind together celebrities, athletes, artists and fictional characters into one, glorious pop culture riff for the ages.
It’s an eye-opening, beautiful experience, like the time I discovered that Troy Ave and Snoop from The Wire have the exact same voice, that Rudy Giuliani looks like Professor Screweyes from We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, or when it became clear that Lonzo Ball and Doug Funny are built the same. In the long run, these comparisons don’t truly matter, but in a world so full of sadness and gloom, we continue to pursue the euphoria of the perfect pop culture connection.
This is where HBO’s Game of Thrones and hip-hop find each other. On a surface level, one might not initially find that many connections between the two, but on the eve of Game of Thrones’ Season 7 premiere, it’s about damn time we start digging a little deeper. It’s the biggest show on the planet versus our generation’s most defining art form, coming together like Jack and Rose on Titanic (see what I did there?).
Hip-hop has always been a sprawling landscape of characters from different walks of life, all of whom are vying for something different, whether it be the crown or something more sinister. If you think about it, the rap game couldn’t possibly be described better than the Game of Thrones.
(This is in no way a complete waste of time.)
2 Chainz = Sansa Stark
It took us six years to stop treating these two like a joke and start taking them seriously. Now they’re here to stay, and couldn’t be better.
50 Cent = Salladhor Saan
Why does 50 Cent resemble Salladhor Saan, a once-legendary figure who now spends his time talking shit to everyone else and trying to sell them things? I really can’t imagine why…
Beanie Sigel = Gregor Clegane (The Mountain)
I can’t think of any two people in their respective universes who fewer people would want to fuck with than Beanie Sigel and The Mountain.
Big Sean = Jaime Lannister
Jamie is one of the most confusing characters in Game of Thrones, perpetually bouncing between redemptive and terrible, and his character arc plays very similarly to Big Sean’s career thus far. Sean is a talented lyricist, often times a good storyteller, who manages to pull you into his music to a certain point, right before he squanders it all and leaves you feeling empty inside.
For all of the earnestness and depth he wants us to so desperately feel, Big Sean always ends up sounding like a club promoter trying to make it in rap. Much like Jamie Lannister, Sean is missing the indefinable quality that could make him one of our favorites and instead banishes himself into a purgatory of obscure song titles (see “Jump Out The Window”) and Jhené Aiko features.
Birdman = Tywin Lannister
Birdman, historically, has always valued fortune over family. Tywin Lannister, despite his boastful claims, also valued his family’s name more than his family itself. Birdman backstabbed Lil Wayne to protect his brand. Tywin Lannister tried to have his own son murdered to protect his name. Tywin Lannister was killed on the toilet. Most of Birdman’s music belongs IN the toilet. My work here is done.
Chance The Rapper = Arya Stark
Chance and Arya Stark are so easily compared because it's impossible to find that many people who aren’t fans of them. They’re both scrappy, clawing their way into importance within their respective universes by doing things the harder way. Chance, like Arya, has always been an easy hero to root for, and with that comes an investment from their fans that’s almost impossible to break at this point.
Common = Davos Seaworth
Like Davos, Stannis Baratheon’s right-hand man and one of the noblest characters on GoT, Common is the wise and respectful rapper that never quite gets his due. Davos Seaworth rarely squanders screen time in much the same way that Common always seems to produce the most from his projects with only moderate praise. Also, I think Common may have also lost three fingers as a price for making Universal Mind Control.
Diddy = Varys
Diddy has played this part in hip-hop fairly well for the better part of 20 years. No one truly knows where Diddy’s alliances in rap truly lie, and although his connections to musicians ranging from Jay Electronica to Cassie always seem to be for the good of hip-hop—much like Varys, he does what he does for the good of Westeros—there always feels like an ulterior motive below the surface. Maybe hip-hop is secretly Diddy’s web, and we’re all just trapped in it.
DJ Khaled = Walder Frey
I'm trying really hard here to not make jokes about weird familial relationships, but it feels like these two are just glorified middlemen from hell.
DMX = Ramsay Bolton
I promise you this go past the obvious connection that both men happen to have an infatuation with dogs. Like Ramsay, who could be crowned as the show’s most deliciously evil villain in its entire run, DMX has always made us feel uncomfortable. Not in a necessarily bad uncomfortable, though, but rather in a way that keeps us wanting more of his discomforting presence. Ramsay was despicable, but the kind that we just wanted to keep building to see how bad he could actually get. DMX and his perpetual rage have always felt very similar.
Drake = Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger)
To be honest, Littlefinger should have died on GoT a long time ago, yet his persistent scheming and wherewithal have allowed him within striking distance of the Iron Throne. As well, Drake’s career probably could have died out a long time ago had he not learned the same tricks of the trade. Drake has steadily climbed his way to the forefront of rap not because he’s a better artist (he’s not), a better businessman (nope), or even a better writer (shout out Quentin Miller), but because no one is better at timing their career moves. What Drake does best is aligns himself with the tides of hip-hop in a way that allows him to feed off the success of other artists until it’s time for him to destroy them.
Fabolous = Oberyn Martell
Slick-tongued, deadly in combat, and as smooth as anyone around, Fabolous and Oberyn “Red Viper” Martell really only cared about being fly and destroying their greatest enemies in glorious fashion. In Oberyn’s case, he had his eyes squeezed in so hard his head popped. In Fabolous’ case, he ran out of basketball players to reference. The jury is still out on who had the worse fate.
Fat Joe = Beric Dondarrion
Fat Joe, like Beric Dondarrion, is a man of many lives in hip-hop. There’s been “Twinz”-era Fat Joe, in which he and Big Pun wore matching camo onesies that made them look like shitty painters. There was “Lean Back” and “Make it Rain” Fat Joe that saw him at his apex of “none of us are absolutely sure Fat Joe is still good at rap but this beat is bananas” hit songs. And finally, there was “All The Way Up” Fat Joe, defying all odds and gracing us with another unexpected club banger. Through the last 20 years, Fat Joe’s career has been killed and resurrected time after time, and after each death, he comes back just slightly less charismatic. What a life.
Future = Sandor Clegane (The Hound)
The Hound has always been a terrifying giant, with a deep-seeded pain keeping him from becoming a complete monster, and turning him into a more sympathetic and interesting character. Future, similarly, has continually been one of the most monstrous acts in rap, and as an icon of the trap genre, he has managed to channel his softer elements into something even more profound the longer he’s been in the game. Think of HNDRXX like the rap version of The Hound saving Sansa and Arya’s lives.
J. Cole = Jon Snow
For as captivating a character as he can be at times, Jon Snow, one of our last remaining protagonists and the character the show seems to be building towards, is quite honestly pretty boring. The same, unfortunately, can be said of J. Cole. In theory, Cole has all the tools and abilities to be the king of rap. He’s maintained a fan base and audience even when he disappears for months on end. Just like there’s no convincing a Jon Snow fan of his faults, there is no convincing a J. Cole fan that 4 Your Eyez Only is just an album about chores, or that “No Role Modelz” obscurely references Uncle Phil in a song about not trusting women based on their sexual activity. We will always care about J. Cole the same way we will always be invested in Jon Snow’s story. However, that doesn’t mean we’re always going to enjoy it.
Jay Electronica = Gendry
Remember that episode of GoT that dedicated a large portion of time to convince us that Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s bastard son and rightful heir to the Iron Throne, was actually important to the plot? Remember when the show then put him on a boat, and we never saw him again and it’s been four years later, and we still have no answers as to how important he was or where he ended up? Now you know what it’s like to be a Jay Electronica fan.
JAY-Z = Ned Stark
As GoT viewers, Ned was our first protagonist and the person who we as an audience clung to initially as we were introduced to the evils of Westeros. Like Ned, JAY-Z has always felt like the first universal rapper that people embraced. He was more business-savvy than Biggie, less intense than Pac, and always felt like the most qualified to be the king of rap, if you will. Yet, Ned’s biggest flaw was that, once he showed up in King’s Landing, he became a walking DJ Akademiks GIF and couldn’t have looked more lost. Both great warriors at one point, JAY-Z and Ned Stark, in their older forms, have always felt one step behind the more cunning players in the game they will eventually lose. Although Jay bounced back with 4:44, it, much like Ned’s continued fighting spirit up until the point he died, only serves as a reminder that who SHOULD be the king and who IS the king are two different things.
Joe Budden = Stannis Baratheon
For Stannis, tradition and legacy mattered more than anything, and his unflinching pride and commitment to himself is what ultimately got him killed. For Budden, the tradition of hip-hop purity, in his mind, is worth dying for or at least becoming a meme for. In some sense, it’s noble to remain so committed to one ideal and in another sense, it’s annoying and grows tiresome quickly. Also, I think this means that DJ Akademiks is Melisandre.
Kanye West = Cersei Lannister
Kanye is the rapper we as a society love to hate, while never failing to cheer when he blows everyone to hell with whatever new sound he’s chosen to follow. No matter the odds or choices, even with blonde hair in the lobby of Trump Tower, Kanye, much like Cersei, always bounces back to once again proclaim that he is truly the ruler we all deserve.
Kendrick Lamar = Daenerys Targaryen
At the end of GoT, it seems destined that Daenerys, for as far as she’s come, will sit atop the Iron Throne as the ruler the kingdom deserves. She’s cunning, honest of her own mistakes but always willing to turn them into something meaningful, and she’s come equipped for war with 20,000 genital-impaired dudes who all look the same, so one might say she’s got shooters on call. Daenerys is Kendrick and Kendrick is Daenerys. He is our one true king, the most important person in all of rap music, and the one rapper who is actually doing what other rappers think they’re accomplishing. Every album, every song and every verse, Kendrick comes equipped with something lethal from his arsenal in a way we have both never seen before nor are prepared for. As of now, when we think of Game of Thrones we think of Daenerys, and when we think of hip-hop, in its current state, we think of Kendrick Lamar. Case closed.
Kid Cudi = Bran Stark
Every year or so, Kid Cudi releases new music and we all collectively say, “Oh, so that’s what he’s been up to this whole time,” and then immediately go back to listening to other music. Cudi’s career has essentially been the Bran Stark storyline on GoT; a promising beginning, a middling middle, an insanely long hiatus, and a return that found all of us less than enthused by what we eventually found.
Macklemore = High Sparrow
Now, I’m not implying that Macklemore is also a full of shit hobo who dresses in kindergarten classroom carpet, but his niceness act, like the High Sparrow, has run its course. This isn’t to say that Macklemore’s intentions are bad, as much as it is to say they’re misguided. In other words, the good that Macklemore thinks that he’s doing for hip-hop is often worse for everyone involved. For as progressive as both he and the High Sparrow seem to think that they are, much of the time it feels like they went about achieving that progress in the most annoying way possible.
Meek Mill = Theon Greyjoy
For a long time, Meek Mill really thought a lot of himself. Then, he started catching so many L's that he probably dropped one on his way into the house and then slipped on that L into the snow. Theon Greyjoy was once a boastful asshole with a legendary male anatomy, who was... uh... chopped down in a move that ultimately humbled him and left him with the name Reek (which rhymes with Meek). Similarly, Meek was cut down in the prime of his career due to his own brash overconfidence. Meek, as well as Theon, may still have a chance for redemption at some point, but for now, we will only remember Drake’s “Back to Back” as the equivalent of Theon’s infamous “de-sausaging” scene.
Memphis Bleek = Podrick Payne
Podrick has been getting “Dear Summer”'d by every character on the show for five seasons now. This was too easy.
Migos = Drogon, Rhaegal & Viserion (Daenerys’ Three Dragons)
Quavo is Drogon, the most popular dragon and the one constantly leaving the other two to do guest features where he drops in and burns everybody to ash. Offset is Rhaegal, the second most notable dragon even though he’s clearly the least talented. Takeoff is Viserion, and I’m doing my absolute best to not drop a “DoItLookLikeIWasLeftOffTheTripToWesteros” joke and oh my god it just happened and I can’t take it back.
Nicki Minaj = Robb Stark
There have been legitimate points, since the beginning of her career, where it felt like Nicki Minaj was set to run a large portion of rap. Similarly, there was a large portion of time where it felt like Robb Stark was not only going to rule the North but possibly all of Westeros. Nicki, like Robb, has always had every single tool at her disposal, yet through a series of critical mistakes, she pushed her career into self-parody. Robb Stark was killed because he started to care about things other than the throne within his grasp.
The Notorious B.I.G. = Robert Baratheon
Robert Baratheon, the first king we were ever introduced to on GoT, was a commanding, albeit doomed, figure in Westeros. For all of his power on the battlefield and ability to at least keep the kingdoms he ruled over at peace, he was never meant to be the lasting ruler of the Iron Throne. Biggie could be described in that same light. Highly skilled, cool, likable—like Robert, there was nothing quite like the time he ruled.
Pusha T = Tormund
Tormund once headbutted someone to death because his arms couldn’t move, which is how I feel every time I listen to Pusha’s “Numbers On The Boards.”
Remy Ma = Roose Bolton
“SHEther” feels oddly like the events of GoT’s infamous Red Wedding, and what Remy Ma did to Nicki on that song is as close to Roose Bolton’s murder of Robb Stark as we are ever going to see. Remy essentially walked up to an already injured Nicki, stabbed her with the jagged edge of a hard copy of The Nacirema Dream, and whispered in her ear, “Papoose sends his regards,” before she met her death.
Rick Ross = Brienne of Tarth
This is a case of undying loyalty. Brienne being betrayed over and over again is kinda like when Ross found out that Birdman didn’t really own those cars.
Tupac Shakur = Rhaegar Targaryen
Although we never see Rhaegar onscreen, he’s talked about like one of the noblest warriors in the history of Westeros, and as we progress through the show it’s clear that he’s becoming increasingly important to the fates of many other characters. Pac was another important piece of rap history who, for many, is regarded as one of the greats. Pac was fierce, brave, brash, and a continuing influence on the way many of our best emcees continue to tell their stories. He’s as legendary as Rhaegar.
Tyga = Hot Pie
Remember Hot Pie, the portly little kid who travels with Arya in Season 2, who stays behind and away from danger so he can cook hot pies, and then reappears every once and awhile only for us all to collectively say, “Aw, I forgot about this little guy. Look at his little animal-shaped hot pies. How adorable.”? That’s Tyga.
Vince Staples = Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion Lannister, like Vince Staples, is memorable because of the fact he's hilarious. Both remain impossible to dislike because their own narratives are dark and heartbreaking, and the humor they have managed to find serves more as a shield than as a tool. Vince Staples is one of the most interesting rappers we have in front of us at this moment and, like Tyrion, his importance to where hip-hop is going is not going to be determined by whether or not he sits atop the throne of best rapper alive one day. Like Tyrion, his story is more than that.
Waka Flocka Flame = Hodor
Does the word “Flocka!” secretly hold some sort of time-traveling, universe-shattering meaning below its surface? Insert the puzzled blonde lady with math equations on her face meme.
Wale = Jorah Mormont
Wale and Jorah are just two guys, trying to be accepted in their world, who just can’t seem to stop tripping over their own feet. Plus, listening to Shine is kinda like getting Greyscale.
XXXTentacion = Joffrey Baratheon
Sometimes it just feels good to irrationally hate someone, and in the case of both XXXTentacion, who can best be described as an evil version of one of the brooms come to life in Disney’s Fantasia, and Joffrey Baratheon, the biggest piece of shit in television history, irrational hatred has never felt more satisfying. Joffrey once made two prostitutes have sex with each other and then held them at crossbow point while one of them beat the other to death, which sounds painstakingly close to XXX’s lyrics.
Young Dolph = Ilyn Payne
This one is pretty simple. Ser Ilyn Payne, the silent, stoic executioner of King’s Landing, fears nothing. As well, Young Dolph, a man who once survived a drive-by that riddled his car with 100 bullets, AND THEN WROTE AN ALBUM CALLED BULLETPROOF AFTER IT, apparently fears nothing either. Also, if you catch me eventually writing an article of “The 150 Things Young Dolph Was Doing In His Car While 100 Bullets Hit It,” don’t be surprised.
Young Thug = Night’s King
For all the wars waged, all the heroes and villains killed, and conflicts yet to come, the characters of GoT will ultimately have to reckon with the fact that the White Walkers are coming, and they are probably going to kill everyone. The Night’s King, their blue-eyed badass leader, will more than likely reign over everything when it’s all said and done. This is also how we should feel about Young Thug. In fact, I’m pretty sure if The Night’s King ever speaks, his first word will be, “Drippin!”