Bumping impressions with Hip-Hop and irreverence

How Adult Swim made a whole new experience with bumpers and hip-hop music.

Posted on February 1, 2023

Introducing a little bit more about me: I’m interested in the history of television, for me, it’s a funny subject to read about and to have a deck of facts to throw and have a weird flex during small talk.

One of the most interesting things for me in the middle of all this obsession is Adult Swim. If you haven’t been introduced to [as] before, just know that it is a block consisting of cartoons and shows targeted to older audiences inside of Cartoon Network programming.

The Experience

Two things turn Adult Swim into more than a 9-hour block on a children’s TV channel. The first one is the whole experience of entering it:

Nowadays, [as] starts its broadcast at 9 PM, there are some bumpers announcing the end of the broadcast from Cartoon Network, followed by the iconic parental advisory slogan warning about its content: “Adult Swim may contain mature material some viewers might not find suitable” and starts with King of the Hill rock theme song.

As a child, this is a very unique experience. You feel like you’re entering a limited area, staying late at night watching adult cartoons. (Even if Adult Swim programming were rarely gore-like)

The second thing that makes Adult Swim an incredible thing is the culture of bumpers. Bumpers (or bumps, for short) are short-sized videos that are played before and after commercial breaks, and Adult Swim turns these bumps into a whole new level when it comes to personality.

The [as] bumps are a mix of irreverent messages written in white on a black background along with experimental hip-hop songs. Those messages can be used to talk about everyday events like news, passing tributes, and even scientific knowledge is spread sometimes.

But let’s focus today on the songs of Adult Swim.

The songs

One of the things that make Adult Swim bumps magical, is the curated selection of songs they use on it. They even set up their music label called Williams Street Records, which intended to work with artists to produce music related to their show. But let’s not talk about this today because we’re focusing on bumps.

During some years on sign-off bumps, the Adult Swim team exhibited the names of albums and artists that were being played during the days’ broadcast. There are some notorious artists on these, especially ones like JDILLA.

The construction of the songs along with the iconic black and white environment already gives you the presuppose that some gag is coming in the next seconds, but they always know how to use and abuse it, take a look, for example, when a bumper comes on without music. You know it’s about someone that passed.

The Overall

In the end, thanks to the team behind it, the bumps got their persona, you can feel like there is someone that acts as one to write these, sometimes I imagine a folk from Turner just sitting on a chair holding a mug of coffee, spreading itself on his chair and starting to type some sad gibberish that would look funny on Adult Swim format.

The songs are a cultural thing from it, you would expect something to come up with as hip-hop does with bumpers.