Tag Archives: Mega Ran

Artist of the Week: Mega Ran and Bag of Tricks Cat

Megaran

Raheem Jarbo belongs to a musical subgenre that could loosely be termed “video game rap”—hip-hop full of witty one-liners about famous game characters that taps into both the obsessiveness of gamers and the hardcore fandom of rap historians. That description makes the music seem radically niche, but Jarbo, who raps under the name Mega Ran—a nod to Mega Man—writes songs that are easy to embrace, thanks to his unrelenting charm. Jarbo released his debut LP in 2006 (The Call) and spent the first five years of his musical career balancing rap with his duties as a special education teacher in Philadelphia (he later move to Phoenix, Arizona, where he teaches middle school). His day job subtly influences his art: as Mega Ran, Jarbo approaches records as a teacher, preaching inclusivity and collaboration. He’s also served as a mentor within the rap game. His latest release, Emerald Knights 2, is a collaborative LP with rising Phoenix rapper Felix the Cat, aka Bag of Tricks Cat. On Knights, Jarbo moves away from the electronic bent of previous albums in favor of a boom-bap homage to the rap music of his youth. Throughout the album, he casts himself less as a fantastical stylist than an immensely talented rapper who happens to love video games.

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Saharan Guitar, Somber Electronics, and Nerd Rap

7 essential

Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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The Best New Hip-Hop on Bandcamp

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This month’s crucial hip-hop picks include indie rap veterans who are embracing their years in the game, video game fiends paying tribute to the late, great Frank White, and a rapper who at one time had the whole Internet convinced he was actually an alias of Nas. In a break from the normal U.S.-based selection, we also take a detour to Auckland, New Zealand where a whole bunch of rap cats are mustering up their own brand of creative hip-hop.
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Superkicks and Songwriting: Artists at the Intersection of Music and Wrestling

Sam Mickens

Sam Mickens

Ever since Gorgeous George convinced an arena’s organist to play “Pomp and Circumstance” as he walked to the ring (possibly before that, depending on which version of wrestling history you believe), professional wrestling and music have been inextricably linked. It’s hard to imagine a wrestler without theme music now, whether it’s something written specifically for them or a pre-existing song that perfectly sums up the character. Sometimes, the first note of a song—maybe even less than that—is enough to let fans know who’s about to come through the curtain. But the wrestling-and-music relationship is a two-way street. Wrestlers are still using music as part of their art, but now there’s no shortage of musicians using wrestling as part of theirs.

Whether you’re traveling to Florida for the corporate spectacle of WWE’s Wrestlemania 33 or just driving down the road to an armory or high school gym to see your local favorites, here’s a list of wrestling-inspired music to listen to on the way.

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Alex Trebek’s Diss Ignited A Nerdcore Hip-Hop Rebellion

Mega Ran. Photo by Harrison Searle.

Mega Ran. Photo by Harrison Searle.

One of the strangest beefs of 2016 began with Alex Trebek. In October, Jeopardy! contestant Susan Cole introduced herself on camera as a fan of nerdcore hip-hop. “It’s people who identify as nerdy, rapping about the things they love: video games, science fiction, having a hard time meet romantic partners,” she explained, to which Trebek replied, “Losers, in other words.” Raheem Jarbo, better known as nerdcore hip-hop artist Mega Ran, was traveling on tour from Birmingham, Alabama, when he heard what happened.

“I got absolutely blown up and inundated with links to that event, nonstop,” he says. Jarbo wasn’t mad, per se; Trebek said he was teasing. Jarbo still found the situation ironic. “Talking sideways on geeks, man, you a trip / Guess you hadn’t heard, nerds make up half your viewership,” he rapped in a 40-second freestyle posted to Twitter. The next morning, the clip was featured on TMZ on TV.

Then came “Who Is Alex Trebek,” a massive posse cut on which 13 rappers—including Jarbo, Sammus, and MC Hawking, among many others—spit acerbic bars over the game show’s popular thinking music. It’s the ultimate diss track, even if it ends on a self-deprecating note. “But losers, my dudes, maybe he wasn’t wrong,” Dr. Awkward says, “’Cause we did spend all day making this song.” Nonetheless, “Who Is Alex Trebek” is possibly the biggest nerdcore hip-hop cut to ever exist. Such a track wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago.

Mega Ran. Photo by Andrew Doench.

Photo of Mega Ran by Andrew Doench.

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