Independent Artist Raheem ‘Mega Ran’ Jarbo Swapped Books for Game Consoles

The former teacher turned rapper on gaming and turning his passion into profit

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Your music heavily samples video game material; have you ever run into trouble legally with publishers? What are the risks?

There are huge risks, but that’s the hip-hop side of me. I don’t recall anyone getting sued for fanart but, at the very least, a cease and desist notification on something you spent a year working on would really hurt. But, without me taking those risks, I may never have been heard. Now that this is my full-time job, I always try to seek out the publishers and get permission for what we do because there’s a lot more to lose at this stage.

As a pioneer in a new genre defined as “nerdcore,” what is the difference between this genre and modern hip-hop like what we hear on the radio today?

It’s the same to me, but it’s generally a different subject matter that is more fantasy based, or geek culture themed. In today’s hip-hop, more than ever, the line is being blurred when mainstream artists sample video games and talk about not being the coolest kid in school in the top 40 records. More than that, I think it’s the DIY aesthetic that makes nerdcore what it is.

Have you had any mentors in the tech industry? If so, who?

In my early days, no, but today it’s my peers; many rappers are my mentors and don’t even know it. We all learn so much from each other like what works and what doesn’t. Also musicians like Danny Baranowsky (Super Meat Boy), Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead) and others offer great inspiration. I find that what I do is so new and different. I’m able to work it to my advantage and it gets me into so many more places that wouldn’t be possible if I only did hip hop or game sound tracking.

What’s next for you?

Touring again. Working on dates for a west coast [tour] from October 3rd to [the] 14th from Arizona to Washington State and back. Peep those dates at http://megaran.com/shows .

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