Rap is by far one of my favorite genres. Rarely a day goes by where I’m not listening to some kind of rap music, whether it’s Logic, Chance The Rapper, Kanye, A Tribe Called Quest, or Wu-Tang. Mega Ran is also part of that pantheon of artists I follow, yet a lot of people probably have no clue who Mega Ran is. Well, I guess you could call him a video game rapper, but he’s also just one hell of a rapper in general.
Mega Ran’s real name is Raheem Jarbo. He was born in Philadelphia, PA, and before becoming a rapper full-time, he was a special education teacher and a middle school teacher. Eventually, he quit teaching altogether in 2011.
Mega Ran ended up getting real traction from the gaming press when he released an album titled Mega Ran in 2007 (at this time, he went by the name Random rather than Mega Ran for his music). The whole album is a tribute to the Mega Man franchise and illegally used music from Capcom games. The obvious thing that should have happened is that Capcom sues him. Instead, they gave him a licensing agreement and let him perform at the Capcom booth at Comic-Con that same year.
The album that really turned me onto Mega Ran is Forever Famicom, which was released in 2010. The album uses various beats from NES and SNES games and there’s some seriously meaningful lyrical content written in there.
The song titled” Dream Master” tells a great story of how video games saved his life — to a certain extent — and is a simple and chill rap song with a fantastic beat. Meanwhile, “The Girl With The Make-Up” shows off his ability to tell stories on a deeper level; it’s about a girl from his childhood that he had a crush on. Other songs such as “Drop The Load” and “For The Gamers” directly touch upon gaming culture in a fun way that doesn’t come across as corny, but rather as something that truly appreciates the culture.
One of my favorite tracks is the closer of the album, “Galaxies,” which uses music from Metroid. Again, it’s another very relaxed track that shows off Jarbo’s rapping talents. Forever Famicom is an album I’ve played over and over again and songs like “Dream Master” and “Galaxies” are constantly in rotation for me.
Lately, Mega Ran has released an album titled RNDM where he strays away from being fully about video games. The album really shows off his talents as a rapper more than anything he’s ever put out. Right from the start it opens with a track called “Same As It Ever Was…,” which starts with an 8-bit beat but quickly transitions to a piano-based beat displaying the change that Mega Ran has gone through. He doesn’t necessarily want to be just that video game rapper anymore — he wants to be considered a serious artist and for good reason.
“Same As It Ever Was…” immediately shows those talents with Jarbo’s relaxed rap flow off a simple piano beat. “Infinite Lives,” the second track on the album, delivers some of the classic video game-stylized music we remember from Jarbo’s early work, but it’s a track flowing with the optimism about the power of music to leave a lasting impact on the world even after one is gone. “Introvert Bars” is a short track that even someone with the slightest introverted tendencies could relate to when he drops lines like:
“yay! Festivities…the captivity/they’ll tell a bunch of jokes, I’ll pretend to enjoy/and I’ll be stuck in conversations that’d tend to avoid/Sounds great, so I sigh and grab my coat…”
“Your Favorite Song” is a poppy, catchy track that will more than likely be stuck in your head, and truthfully, it’s pretty much one of the most “meta” rap songs you’ll ever hear. “The Meeting” shows off more of Jarbo’s amazing storytelling talents as he raps from two different perspectives: his old rap persona, Random, and his new one, Mega Ran. It’s complex, layered, and much more in-depth than most songs I’ve heard as of late.
Two of my favorite tracks on the album are “Altern8 Endings” and “Revisions.” The former shows off even more of that Jarbo relaxed delivery, the kind that he deserves to be known for. It also features Open Mike Eagle, who’s extremely talented and fits right in with Jarbo’s relaxed delivery. “Revisions,” on the other hand, delivers a harsh criticism to the realities of being a teacher and the American public education system. It provides a unique listening experience and for me, personally, it allows myself to question a lot as someone who is probably going to be a history teacher in the future (although, the goal is to be a professor).
The main reason I’m even writing this story is because I believe Mega Ran deserves greater exposure; not just within the gaming community, but also with lovers of rap music in general. If anything, I hope my story has convinced even a single reader to check out his music, whether you’re a fan of video games, rap music, or even both. He mashes these entities together in a heartfelt way that feels like more than a tribute — it’s stuff that comes from the heart. I’d be shocked if someone came out of listening to RNDM or Forever Famicom and didn’t at least feel a bit touched by some of the amazing lyrics on both albums.