The video game culture is influencing everything from television and movies to music and marketing and has recently become the catalyst for some groundbreaking music. Enter Raheem Jarbo, underground rapper, middle school teacher (yes, teacher) and now innovative musical creator. Jarbo, aka "Ran" began his musical journey in the underground hip-hop nightclubs and studios in his hometown of Philadelphia back in the 1990s. With emcee, freestyle rapping, and even producing experience under his belt Ran relocated to Phoenix hoping to continue building his hip-hop reputation.
Despite a rocky start Ran continued to pursue his passion for hip-hop but to pay the bills he worked as a middle school teacher. Ran explained, “I did both for as long as I could. I would go to school and teach, and at night I would go do a gig, and continued, “Eventually I had to make a decision, and I felt like I wasn’t going to make the decision until I knew it was time.” That decision would be made for him not long after he discovered a little known sub-genre of music called nerdcore.
The music spawned by nerdcore artists sparked Ran's imagination and fused his passion for video games and hip-hop into something else entirely. “I call it chip-hop,” Ran explained, and continued, “I made an album about “Final Fantasy 7” and it got really big and it led to more and more gigs and then I had to quit my job to handle the strain of being a full-time musician.”
Ran's album success was enough incentive for him to continue to experiment with his chip-hop music which ultimately led to a very lucrative endorsement. After creating a tribute album to Ran’s favorite video game character Mega Man, Capcom called and offered their support. Ran explained, “My first show was after I talked to CapCom. They invited me to go to Comic Con in San Diego to play,” and continued, “It was a complete nerdcore show. Everything was completely comfortable, and it was great. Best experience I could have had."
Ran’s new found persona, "Mega Ran," emerged onto the video game music scene and has made quite an impression on both fans and critics. When asked about his success and what advice he might have for other hopefuls breaking into the video game music industry Ran had this to say, “I do believe that talent beats all, and if you are not only talented but a nice person who talks to people you’ll find your way into some opportunities. It is a matter of being persistent, very persistent.”
With continued support given by Capcom Ran now tours the country and has even made international trips to Tokyo Japan to play concerts. To learn more about this budding form of “nerdcore” music, or to show your support for a local artist check out the MegaRan website for music, merchandise, and tour dates. Ran also has an extra surprise for any fellow fan of his favorite video game character here.