E3 2013

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Mega Ran

11 - 13 June 2013 | Written by Maxxum

I first saw Raheem Jarbo, aka "Random", aka "Mega Ran", at MAGFest 11. His onstage persona is infectious, and he typically involves the crowd to partake of refrains, or the handwave which has become ubiquitous with the live performance of "Splash Woman".

You've mentioned that you were an English teacher, why did you start doing videogame music?

Well, I was teaching English as well as making hip-hop music, and I always tried to make sure to incorporate a little bit of each into what I was doing - and, so that's what led to me making language arts and other educational based, or centered albums. But, when I moved from Philadelphia to Phoenix, I dunno, something happened and I felt like I needed a chance to recharge, so I stopped making music for a while and I went back to my first love which was videogames, and I started playing a lot of games, mostly retro games - and, that's what made me get the idea to combine all of my loves from childhood into one thing which became videogame based hip-hop rap.

When did you actually get involved with music?

I was rapping in 1993, that's when I first started. I wrote my first rap song, but I started making my own beats in 2000 thanks to a PlayStation program called "Mtv Music Generator". So, it's ironic that videogames got me into music as far as making it on a professional level, and now I am making music on professional level.

I've seen you work with some of the [DJ] equipment, how long did it take you to learn all of that?

My setup is not too difficult, but overall I've been adding one piece probably every year. So, overall in the last three years I've learned probably what I know now. Three years ago I had no idea, I was just a rap guy, so I would get a DJ to play music and I would rap. But, now I'm becoming a little more self-sufficient, learning a couple more pieces of equipment, whether keyboards, mixers and other things. There's more to it than rapping, I feel like hip-hop has such a bad name; a lot of people don't consider it to be music, so I want people to see my show and say, "Wow, this guy is actually a musician who's not just a rap guy".

What were some of your early hurdles breaking into the industry?

Well, being from where I'm from, which is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a lot of people wanna try music. It has a great musical history as far as the talent goes, so I feel like just having a lot competition - a lot of people trying to do exactly what you are trying to do. So, the biggest hurdle was trying to stand-out, while still being authentic, and true to yourself - so, that's the biggest thing I had trouble with in the beginning is feeling like you have to sound like everyone else, or do what everyone else is doing in order to be heard, and then finding your own identity; it's definitely the hardest thing about music.

Why is Mega Man so important to you?

Y'know, it's just a character I really developed a huge attachment to as a kid, I never let it go. In 1987, I mean I remember playing the first "Mega Man" game, and it being extremely difficult, but just having that... I mean, he was a cute character, he was blue, it's my favorite color, his ability to grab and use other weapons from other bosses, I thought that was so innovative, and I felt like in music, that's what I'm able to do, is kind of take from my influences, and so I feel like I've been able to identify with the character of "Mega Man", even more than I ever thought when I first just liked the blue character.

Journalist Comments:

You can hear more from Mega Ran on his site. He is also running a Kickstarter for a Mega Ran Japan Tour LP and documentary to which people can contribute here.

Photos by Maxxum