Enjoy the new track “Here Comes The Pain,” all about the Beast, Brock Lesnar.
Enjoy the new track “Here Comes The Pain,” all about the Beast, Brock Lesnar.
This month, Mega Ran was chosen as a part of PERFORMER MAGAZINE’s Social Justice Issue. Ran wrote a powerful piece called “Touring While Black.” While the article is available in the magazine on newsstands, the online version was hard to make out. Here is Ran’s article in full and unedited.
My favorite two words to utter, or type, because as a musician, we all dream of getting on the road and knocking down stages in strange places, making new friends and fans, hopefully getting paid, and definitely having stories to tell for ages.
As I’m unpacking from one tour and repacking for another, I get excited at the possibilities involved with late night drives into new cities with a few of my closest homies, Dominic “DJ Organic” Khin-Tay, Mario “SkyBlew” Farrow and Chris “EyeQ” Allen. But it wasn’t until I had finalized the routing had I realized that this could turn out to be one of the more interesting trips, and not for the best reason.
Dom asked me what the tour trail looked like, and I happily read off the list of shows I had booked.
Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, The Carolinas, Virginia….
He stopped me. His next question was a little odd, as his face showed some legit concern.
“Are there any white people riding with us on this tour?”
Driving While Black is a very real thing, and I know it all too well, particularly in the South, which hasn’t been able to shake its racist roots, particularly in the eyes of people who don’t frequent its streets or shake hands with its countrymen. Strangely, DWB and racial relations may be getting worse. After spending 5 years now as a touring performer, driving up and down America’s highways and byways, I always ran a loose ship, but was lucky enough to have never been arrested, pulled over or received any type of traffic violation or warning.
Until this year.
A Pew Research Center poll states that 50% of Americans feel like racism is a bigger problem in 2015 than anytime in the last 20 years. Ferguson and it’s fallout are to blame, and it’s probably the only logical reasoning for the number of stops I’ve faced on the road this year. In 2015, which isn’t over yet, I’ve been pulled over five times while out on the road, only to be left with a warning each time.
There was February in upstate New York, where I was greeted by the nicest Highway Patrol officer, who commended me on my signaling before lane changing, but pulled me over because I hadn’t given enough time and warning between the signal and the actual lane change.
There was March outside Tulsa, where I was pulled over for driving in the fast lane too long.
There was April in Arkansas, where I was pulled over for… well, you know, I don’t even know why I was pulled over there.
There was North Carolina, where I was pulled over for speeding in an area with no posted speed limit signs.
There was the time in May in Omaha, when I was pulled over for tailgating the car in front of me and not giving the proper amount of space.
There was the time in Missouri when my tour mate was profiled and followed out of a Wal-Mart to the parking lot, leading to us being surrounded by squad cars.
These all sound like legitimate offenses, right? Well here’s the kicker. On none of these times was anyone charged or arrested.
However, on EACH of these occasions, I was
1- asked to step out of the vehicle.
2. asked if I had any weapons or drugs on me.
3. patted down and searched.
And in a new development, something I had never seen before, in real life or the movies: In the last few instances, I was:
4. asked to sit inside the officer’s vehicle, in the passenger’s seat, while my paperwork was being processed.
New protocol perhaps? Not sure. So here I am, in a police vehicle, out of range of my friends (who were attempting to film), and behind the officer’s dashboard camera, if there is one, with nothing but my word against his to detail the events of what could happen next.
Each time I readied myself for the worst case scenario, and imagined the police officer shoving his state-issued gun into my cheek and reeling off a string of racial epithets in my direction, and telling me that Black lives DON’T matter.
Luckily, the extent of the experience in the police car usually was limited to a semi-diet-racist line of questioning about what I do: where I’m from, why I’m on THEIR road (there was always a sense of ownership) and how much money one makes from singing rap tunes. One officer even tried to guilt me, by letting me know that he wished he could make a living traveling to new places…instead of say, stopping people from getting to this new places. In each situation, I try to cushion the blow by telling them about my past as a teacher and that I make video game tunes, but if they hear the word rap, it usually gets ugly.
In the sub-genre of hip-hop in which I operate, called nerdcore, most of the artists are white, so it makes be as one of the only Black males, stand out like a sore thumb. It’s what I call the “Reverse Eminem” situation. Whereas Em had to prove himself, being a white kid stepping into a black art form, and learn the craft to become respected, Black nerd rappers are looked at as the standard, and crowned, even prematurely, and very seldom questioned on their credibility or talent level. It’s almost the one place in the world that being Black is awesome.
But I often, as most nerd rappers’ only Black friend, have to let them know when they are out of bounds, and that leads to strange conversations.
Recently, inside a discussion group, a white nerdcore rapper was called out for using the N-word on Facebook, and instead of apologizing and never doing it again, decided he would ask all of his Black friends if they felt that he could say it, and then screenshot the responses. This is what privilege looks like, ladies and gentlemen.
In the same group I argued with a Black rapper about the police, who told me the same thing I always hear when I’m around officers, “Don’t break the law and you’ll be fine.”
Like Walter Scott, pulled over for a routine traffic stop.
Like Eric Garner, who sold cigarettes.
Like Felix Kumi, who was a bystander during an undercover sting operation.
Like Sam Dubose, who drove without a license plate.
So when Dom got a little hesitant at the thought of four fully grown Black and Brown males driving through the southern U.S., I understood.
I live below the law for the most part. I don’t even steal music….anymore. I have paid for every piece of software I use to make music.
Some people are lucky enough to have never felt the feeling of terror of seeing a police car in your rearview mirror.
Some people are lucky enough to have never been pulled over for doing something that everyone else on the road does, every single day.
Don’t break the law and you’ll be fine.
Unless you’re not.
Pray for us while we’re on the road.
Rest in Peace Sandra Bland.
by Mega Ran.
Since the advent of the NPC, and since the word is so widely used in the gaming community, I felt it was important for us to establish an identity; something that represented who we were and what we stood for, and could separate the initials from the Collective.
My friend Zach came up with an amazing new logo that I think represents all that we wanted to be: retro, but sleek; while giving nods to our gaming culture ties.
So I now present to you, the new NPC Collective Logo! Look for it on more events, music and community oriented, in the future.
NPC Members Mega Ran and Richie Branson are touring together for the first time since 2012.
The two met on mc chris’ Monster Hunter Tour and since have created classic gamer jams like “Super Nintendo Sega Genesis”and three successful Halloween themed “Ghouls N Ghosts” albums.
Richie is a music composer and producer who has worked with a variety of notable brands including Marvel Studios and Def Jam Recordings. He also appears on “OP” on Ran’s new album “RNDM” which debuted on Billboard’s charts and maintains a place on CMJ’s Hip Hop Chart.
He is also an accomplished hip-hop artist, gaining notoriety in 2012 after penning multiple songs for Adult Swim and touring with mc chris. After gaining a loyal following as a hip-hop performer, he achieved billboard-charting success with the release of his “From Guardia With Love” album. In 2015, he co-produced the critically acclaimed “Life After Death Star” Notorious B.I.G. / Star Wars underground remix album.
1.28 Phoenix @ Last Exit Live
1.29 Albuquerque @ Burts Tiki Lounge
1.30 Santa Fe @ the underground
1.31 Salt Lake City @ the loading dock
2.1 Denver @ lost lake lounge
2.3 San Jose @ afk lounge (7pm) + Back bar (10PM)
2.4 San francisco @ elbo room
2.5 Sacramento @ Sol Collective
2.6 Reno @ Artcade (meet and greet)
2.7 Los Angeles TBA
Xavier Woods (Austin Watson) did an awesome interview with SI.com.
On his upbringing:
“I didn’t have very many friends growing up,” said Woods. “I was very much a nerd, I read comic books, and I wanted to do well in school. I didn’t have any social skills at all, but my mom noticed I was way more vocal when I had a Nintendo controller in my hand. So she’d set up play dates with other kids to come over and play video games. She said I was like a circuit that was finally completed because I was holding a controller, and another kid was holding a controller, and I finally connected with somebody else and opened up my doors of social activity.”
“It’s intense,” said Woods. “I’m actually transferring schools right now. I had 135 credits and was doing my dissertation in educational psychology, but now I’m transferring to Capella University and start on January 11. They’re taking 25 of my 135 credits, and it will probably take me another three-and-a-half years to finish.”
On his goals in the WWE:
“My goal is to make sure Kofi becomes heavyweight champion. He is the guy who absolutely deserves it over anyone else in the company. My long-term goal is to help, in whatever way I can, Kofi become heavyweight champion.”