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Author: Ryan Davis

Shubzilla and 1-Up Weigh in on The DJT


This summer, numerous members of the NPCC embarked on a two part two, aptly titled “The Day Job Tour” (or “DJT”). The tour was split into a West Coast and East Coast addition, the West Coast stint culminating in performances at Anime Expo in Los Angeles and the East Coast romp ending at Otakon in Baltimore. For a few of the participants, this was the first foray into the world of touring. The following series of blurbs, broken up into a few parts, will detail individual DJT accounts from various NPCCs. Here’s part two of three!

The NPC Collective Presents: PAX West 2016 Nerdcore Hip Hop Concert! September 3, 2016 at the LoFi, Seattle WA.

The NPC Collective Presents: PAX West 2016 Nerdcore Hip Hop Concert! September 3, 2016 at the LoFi, Seattle WA.



The Day Jobs Tour was the first time I got to tour anywhere. I appreciated the invitation to participate in it, but also to have my near and dear friends Kadesh Flow, EyeQ, Bill Beats with me.

When I was asked to be a part of the tour, I was surprised to be included. When Desh and I started planning, I didn’t feel confident in what I was doing with my music. Often, I would second guess myself whether it was booking a show or writing a song. It’s not a great place to be for anyone. These were feelings and thoughts that I worked thru and were able to put aside so we could work together to craft our tour route and the plans along the way.

Being on tour was the jump-start I needed for the road to creative recovery. There were four times where my friends and I performed as best as we could to audiences that didn’t know us. Those were four times where we gave our audiences a positive experience and a great show. Couple that with words of wisdom from Kadesh Flow, EyeQ, and Bill Beats, and it was what is fueling me to rise above the lows and continue to create with them and the rest of my NPC Collective family.

One learns as they go when it comes to touring – this was no exception! During our travels, we discussed on strategies for effective promotion and partnerships with other artists and venues. We can do all the research we want, but that face-to-face contact makes such a difference.

Other things that I have learned:

  • I need to give myself more credit about the work I put in and the talents I have.
  • There are plenty ways to promo that we must tackle next time! There’s flyering and postering, but also getting our singles out to radio stations and podcasts so folks know where we are.
  • I want to offer more merch.
  • Pack lighter.
  • Save (A LITTLE!) of my money for In-N-Out Burgers and Marie Calendar’s. We don’t have that here in Seattle.
  • I must do a few collab tracks with my tourmates so we can vary up what we do and get each other on stage more.
  • (This is more of a reminder of the obvious than it is something I learned) I am surrounded by incredibly talented people.
  • Apparently, every Shubzilla set is leg day.
PAX West 2016

PAX West 2016


Creative Mindframe/1-UP

Soooooo where do I even start!?

This could also be labeled the “Tour where everyone has something bad happen to them.”

In all honesty though it’s a true testament to our bond as the NPCC. Regardless of all of the crappy stuff that happened to each of us individually (Flights delayed, laptops dying, questionably racist staff,lol) we never lost our cool or stopped having a good time!

I flew out directly from work and my laptop died, so I ended up using Eye-Q’s laptop most of the weekend (thanks brothaman). The tour was a ton of fun, it reminded me of those times you take kind of long road trips with your family for like 3-4 hours at a time. We played in NYC, Baltimore and DC, and since I can stay awake for a million hours at a time I did most of the driving which was hilarious because Chris would randomly have conversations with us in his sleep.

Otakon was literally the craziest and most fun / busy con I’ve ever attended. I specifically need to shout out ALL OF THE WORKERS there, seriously the joy that people had being there was contagious and made it so fun to hang out with them and chat whenever we got the opportunity. Thanks to Vince for booking us for the Matsuri – literal insanity. The crowds were so fun and they participated every time we asked them to… I know sometimes it’s like “Yo… I came to watch you perform and you’re asking me to help you perform?” but not in this case 🙂

Got to spend some time picking the brains of some really awesome people… For instance: Lotus Juice gave me some tips on a mobile production program, Diana Garnet opened me to the world of VIS manga readers and this really amazing fellow named Shin… well you just have to meet him because your mind will be blown at the awesomeness that flows from the man’s brain. I also spent a lot of time doing interviews and meeting people who were just there to enjoy their Otakon

Our New York and DC shows were in more intimate venues which I actually really like. In those scenarios I can get right up in your face with the creepy eyebrow look while I’m doing Corny Pick Up Lines, and there is no retreat…


But also finally got to do a show with Wreck The System and just chill with them which we don’t get to do a lot of! One of my favorite things about doing music is getting to interact with people I know virtually and just getting to know them in person a little bit more each time.

It was all a whirlwind of a weekend, but 10/10 would do again if given the opportunity. The only thing I wish I would have done was stayed a little bit later or maybe an extra day  (I did rectify with PAX after learning my lesson the hard way.)
All I know is #NPCCFAM we always have the best of times.

NPCC Day Job Tour Recaps, Part 1

This summer, numerous members of the NPCC embarked on a two part two, aptly titled “The Day Job Tour” (or “DJT”). The tour was split into a West Coast and East Coast addition, the West Coast stint culminating in performances at Anime Expo in Los Angeles and the East Coast romp ending at Otakon in Baltimore. For a few of the participants, this was the first foray into the world of touring. The following series of blurbs, broken up into a few parts, will detail individual DJT accounts from various NPCCs.

We’ll start with the O.G.s, the fearless leaders, Mega Ran & K-Murdock.


K Murdock:

Peace party people, K-Murdock here.  I made a one day cameo on this NPC odyssey at the very tail end of the journey, ironically at an event so close to home yet that I never had the fortune of attending… until the homies Kadesh, 1-Up  & Eye-Q summoned me to grace the stage and sit-in on a panel they hosted on behalf of the Collective.

Like I mentioned, attending Otakon eluded me even though I lived near Baltimore, where it happens, for years; I even recall 2 years back when i lived IN the city and was downtown witnessing the cavalcade of cosplay entering Bmore firsthand. My wife was even like, “uhh… shouldn’t you & Mega Ran be here?!?”  Thing is, though we have ventured a lot of places and rocked a lot of ‘Cons before, Otakon, as well as (San Diego) Comic-Con have been the two that I always seemed to miss. So when my fellow NPCs reached out to me earlier in the summer about coming out to attend, I knew this was the time to finally scratch it off my “Con attended” list.

The day was long, the weather was BLAZING hot, but the vibe was positive which ultimately made the whole experience for me a WIN!  My day started with 1-UP literally being my personal Uber (thanks Manny) by picking me up and driving me to Baltimore for an early soundcheck.  I had all the guys’ music and like I do with Ran, assembled it and ran through these and transitions in my laptop so as to be prepared.  We made it just in time to get a 5 minute check and then got walk around a bit, and trust me we walked as i made my daily 10K step count EASILY just walking around seeing the sights in the Convention center. Got some Fallout (the game) swag courtesy of Eye-Q and Glitch Gaming and then setup merch for the show.

The set was short but I marveled at how polished Desh, Eye-Q & 1-Up were in trading off and also guesting, choicely, on one another’s songs. It was really a proud moment to see as I feel like what myself and Mega Ran tried to start at last year’s Magfest with the NPC showcase, was further honed now and the camaraderie showed as one minute 1-Up is rapping, next he was blowing sax for Eye-Q. Then i see Kadesh come out with his trombone and riff with 1-Up while Eye-Q encourages the crowd to participate with handclaps. Tt was awesome to stand and witness firsthand, to the point I became distracted and forgot “Oh Sh!@, I’m supposed to be the DJ who keep the music moving!” ‘

After the set, which succeeded in bringing more con goers into the hall, as well as more of them to the front (so it wasn’t just a big vacuum of space between the stage and seats), the fellas sold merch, gave “sweaty hugs” and socialized with a few NEW fans of theirs. Again a proud moment to see as I witnessed that same thing the last 5 plus years touring with Mega Ran and watching his star ascend… very surreal and cool to just be THERE.  We then hung out, peeped a couple other acts including Lotus Juice- who does music for the famous JRPG series Persona, before heading to host a panel that was really cool- “being a nerdy person of color”.  The great thing about the panel was attendance for it was solid, and the questions we got to answer from the mixed array of con-goers who checked it was really cool. I learned a lot about my fellow NPCs myself that made me just appreciate being part of this talented collective even more !

After the panel, i had to drop a smoke bomb, pause being the “Sound samurai” and revert back to Kyle the husband/father as I headed home to see my VERY pregnant wife and 20-month old daughter,  who both anxiously awaited my return. I’m so thankful for because they always let me have my time to chase my music pursuits!  Ultimately, the day at Otakon was time well spent as I really got to hang out as just one of the NPCs and i felt so cool wandering around the convention center with my 4-man party of brothers in arms- similar to having your squad stacked with the best characters in Final Fantasy.  I know guys like myself & the aforementioned Mega Ran are considered the “OGs” or veterans of the crew but after witnessing firsthand what the guys up next are doing, I’m beyond content leaving the reins to them to lead to the Next, NEXT generation of nerdy people of color!


Mega Ran:

I was able to help out with two shows in the LA area with my homies from the NPC, which are always a blast to not only perform with, but to be around. The first of which was at Anime Expo (AX), widely recognized as the largest anime convention on the west coast, and one of the largest in the world.

The show was full of surprises and hitches, as with large conventions, talking to the right person who can make decisions is always a challenge. We couldn’t load in effectively, couldn’t get the crew the appropriate amount of badges, and were unclear on our show location.. But luckily with hip-hop, we’re used to thinking on our toes.

The first show was to be a part of the halftime festivities of an 18+ comedy competition. The stage was huge. The crowd was well over 500 people, ready to have a good time.

When I asked how long I should play for, they asked me: “well, about 10 minutes good?”

*record skip*

I didn’t drive 6 hours, tweet and facebook all my friends and supporters and advertise my appearance to play for 10 minutes… so I squeezed for a little more.

We wound up playing 20 minutes and the crowd loved it and wanted more.

Luckily, we were able to give it to them, as we were given a full 60 minute time block at the Lounge the next evening, also an 18+ event.

That show was a MASSIVE success, with all of the NPC leaving with new fans, new supporters and plenty of merchandise sales. It was an honor to be able to utilize my stage time and influence to put fans in front of acts that I know they would enjoy. As they always do, the NPCCs made me proud.



So A Couple of Rappers Decide to Make a Nightmare Before Christmas Album

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 1.13.22 PM

Okay, it’s just an Extended Play…Shoot me.

Alternative hip hop/nerdcore pioneer Mega Ran teamed up with fellow nerdy emcee Richie Branson for the third installment of what I think is one of the most slept on and underrated annual music series ever. Like, ever. The EP series is conceptually centered around Halloween and is aptly titledGhouls ‘n Ghosts. Listen to the first two installments around Halloween, and you are destined to wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats, guttural howls lurching through your brain as ear-piercing shrieks echo from your nightmares. But the beats and rhymes will be SO. INCREDIBLY. COLD that you won’t regret the listen in the slightest.

The third installment of GnG (#GnG3) maintains the spooky bangers feel, but Ran and Richie spin things further down the annual timeline. It’s now a spooooky Christmas. Compatriots Storyville, 1-Up, Kadesh Flow (because I love referring to myself in 3rd person), and Andrew the Only join in on the craziness. Crunk and spook out that meantime-between-time between Christmas and New Year’s Day here.

Desh Note – April 2015

It’s April 2015. I’ve spent far too long between posts. Gosh, I don’t even remember the last time I wrote something non-self promoting for the NPC, and that’s a shame. While I’ve been silent, multiple unarmed men have been killed by police in some way, form, or fashion. The majority of them have been black. While we are finally beginning to see some of the officers be held at least somewhat accountable for these actions, the badge wearing culprits behind these obscenities are still being protected, given too much benefit of the doubt, and largely given a pass by numerous Americans who seem to believe that having any criminal history whatsoever and running  away from an officer warrants violent death.
These things are difficult and enraging to discuss, especially when the U.S. is defensive about the dark sides of our great nation’s history. On social media, I’ve seen a large number of millennial individuals of color (including myself), many of whom have been viewed as “exceptions to the rule” for the majority of our lives, having to remain calm while explaining our friends’ racism to them. Having to attack the misconception that racism only comes from people who are completely evil. Having to break down the hypocrisy that exists when a well meaning comrade asks why “they would destroy their own communities,” and then watch the defensive firestorm erupt when said POC casually points out that nobody asks these questions when mostly white youths destroy property at the same or worse levels when, say Kentucky loses to Wisconsin in the Final Four, or, say, during a Pumpkin Festival, or during a surfing event at Huntington Beach, or in Boston after winning a World Series, and so on and so forth. Some are having to set the record straight on this washed out, PC version of MLK, Jr., whom everyone suddenly wants to quote without any context. I’ve had to spend what I would have regarded  a year ago as wasted space explaining the definition and strategy of “civil disobedience” to people who want to throw MLK quotes around as if he were some politically correct bell boy who never offended or inconvenienced anyone.
It is difficult to remain calm and respectful while explaining to someone whom you respect and befriend that rioting is a desperate act, and that, while violence is inexcusable, this can’t be solved by condemning the riots. Maybe we should finally do more about the systematic  and  institutionalized  circumstances that get poor  and  disenfranchised  citizens to this point of anger. It’s annoying to have to point out that Baltimore (citing this city because it is the most recent case, but won’t be the last) has shelled out over $57 million to cover police related lawsuits in the last 4 years alone, and that somehow, this still hasn’t led them to hold officers more accountable, probably because the city and state governments can use the election of a black mayor and appointing of a black  police  commissioner  as  a  crutch to avoid actually  taking  relevant  action. I’ve had to mention to people that 60% of the 800,000 annual domestic violence cases in this country are leveled against police officers, the same people who are, at least in theory, held to a standard of protecting and serving. The comments don’t even get to the huge points around poverty, education access, and opportunities.
I could go on and on, but you may be wondering why I’m posting about any of this in such a “punch-you-in-the-face” manner. I just want to encourage you to speak up. Keep this conversation going. Baltimore will die down in the same way that Ferguson and Staton Island did, but young men of color (and young people in general) will continue to be killed by officers while unarmed, and most of those officers will still escape any semblance of accountability. If you pay attention to this collective, I imagine you don’t spend much time building a rap sheet of arrest-worthy offenses. However, you may or may not live in an area that isn’t the best, while you strive for better. You may be like me, a young working class black kid who hung out with upper middle class and wealthy kids throughout the entirety of my education. If that’s the case, then you may be able to speak directly to the glaring disparities between your worlds, the stark difference between what happens to you when you’re around white people, verses when you’re alone or with other black youths. Or, you may just be an ally who cares about the idea that every human being should be treated as such.
Either way, I’d like to encourage you to have these conversations, and do your history homework beforehand; don’t back away from them. They need to take place, and they will for a while.

The Process Makes No Sense. So What?

This week, on Tuesday, as a matter of fact, a vice president in the company for which I work curbed me during a one on one conversation, seemingly randomly providing me a validating piece of wisdom:

“You know, man,” he started, “you’re young. You’ve probably got dreams. Don’t be afraid to leave Cerner to pursue those dreams. Just don’t burn any bridges. And if those dreams don’t work out, you can always come back to a place like Cerner.”

I don’t think he had any idea how much I needed to hear that from a person in a position such as the one he held. I sure didn’t. But hearing him say that was like a breath of fresh air. Before I (finally) get around to mentioning what that conversation snippet has to do with anything whatsoever, let me clarify that this is not going to be a post about me hating my job; my job is pretty solid. It’s not going to be about encouraging anyone to quit anything to chase flowers, or chocolate, or the flying spaghetti monster, or what have you. However, I will be personal.

I’m a year and a half into taking my music seriously. Yes, you read that correctly. I’ve been a musician for 14 years, and I’ve been uploading content online and releasing projects for three, six, really, if you count my stuff that only friends and family have heard. Unfortunately, it was only a hobby until I realized how much it keeps me up at night, how much a part of my identity it is.

In the year and a half since I fully embraced my music passion, since that second semester of my second year in graduate school, I have felt more liberated and more empowered than I ever had up to that point. There are people who actually appreciate my letting out things that I didn’t value enough to expose! Who would have thought that was possible? It’s incredible to know that people are listening avidly to anything I decide to enunciate, at any given point in time. It’s been an awesome time period for me.

It’s also been one of the most painful things that I’ve ever known. This has been the hardest year I’ve experienced thus far, and I think that’s because we grow so much when we finally make a decision to embrace us. Who are you, really? Freedom, joy, pain, wrath, frustration, exhilaration, all of these emotions and more are crunched into the messiest packaging possible, bound, and slapped with a gift label that reads something along the lines of “You finally decided to figure it out. Good luck.” Some good that it does. From my end of things, I feel like life would have been a lot easier if I weren’t so frustrated with normal — whatever that means — on a regular basis, and if I was fine with being successful, textbook definition style. Unfortunately, that will never happen with me. It won’t ever happen with you either. Odds are, if you pay attention to the NPC (Happy Birthday, Us!), you probably are a little different some kind of way, and you’re hella proud of it. Even when it sucks, you’re proud of it. When it’s great, you probably play things down to make sure it’s real, trying to do everything you can to take things in the right way and to grow and learn as much as possible while it’s good. Because it will probably suck again soon.

And that’s perfectly fine. That’s part of the greatness of the process that is discovering you, me discovering me, us discovering us.

The conversation I listed really just reminded me that people who have made it to their stations in life don’t always expect us to follow the paths that they built in order for others to further build their successes.

I don’t really have a major turnaround, wrap up, moral, or anything like that for this post. I just want to encourage you to do you. Period. Because doing you is awesome. Every single winding, tumultuous, calming, contradictory, peaceful, destructive moment of it. I hope you embrace it the way that we are over here in NPC-land….

Because life is anything but linear.

Stay up.

— Desh

Desh on Fire - Gateways