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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

Happy 1st Birthday, NPC

What’s up NPC’s:

I just realized from an old Facebook post that last week was the one year anniversary of the beginnings of the NPCC. It started after some conversations at Nerdapalooza (RIP), and then grew.

In the past year we’ve done a lot of cool things, but we want to do even more in the next year and beyond. I’ve spent a lot of time on what I want the NPCC to be, and we’ve been working slowly, and deliberately towards our goals.

Even a year in, I get a lot of questions about the NPC Collective…mainly on what an NPC is, and mostly how to join. I have to say first off I appreciate the overwhelming amounts of support you guys give to the movement.

Happy Birthday!

Next, I have to say that the NPC is not:

-a nerd rap crew
-about separation in ANY way.

We’re just a bunch of people who:

a) like nerdy things (video games, comics, math)
b) create things or bring people joy with the things they do
c) know what it’s like to be ostracized or have trouble fitting in.

So, with those descriptions, pretty much anyone can be an NPC, right?

RIGHT!

Right now, to expand and fulfill the vision I have for the NPCC, we are in need of:

-community activism
-graphic design
-web design
-photography
-videography
-blog posting (how to’s, stories etc)

If you are a person that does any of these things, hit us up and we’ll chat!

So as we blow out the candles for year one, I’m super excited about the future, and I need your help to get there!

Thank you for reading!

-Ran
10/23/14

For the Love of Music Volume 5 : Random aka Mega Ran

So I’m a big Mega Ran fan it’s no secret. I stumbled across his albums right before I finished my senior year of Wabash then Forever Famicom and Mega Ran 9 got me through some tough times in my life when I first moved to Dallas.

Fast forward about 4 years later I have not only have met this respectable fellow multiple times but am fortunate enough to call him a friend. When I was in Phoenix in June for work we got to hang out for a bit and I saw it only fitting this random chat be the next volume of “For the Love of Music.”

Get to know a little bit about the life of an Indie Musician.

The struggles, the balance and what makes it all worth it from the homie himself – Mega Ran.

SkyBlew’s Unmodern Life

SkyBlew’s UNmodern Life

As you may know, i’m preparring to release my album “SkyBlew’s UNmodern Life” at the end of this month. So, I decided to write a blog of some sort to discuss the process of creating the album and also a summary of what the album is about. The album is a mixture of Hey Arnold, Rocket Power, Video Games and real life themes. It’s been VERY challenging for me to make this album because I had to try to push myself further than I ever have before. I had to decide which route to take with this album. It could either be; VERY CORNY or it could be something that’s refreshing, creative and never done before. I chose some of these concepts because, I felt they relate to my life currently, and in the past. Especially Hey Arnold. That show had some really deep episodes that I didn’t fully understsand until I got much older. That’s why I chose songs like “The Ballad Of Pigeon Man”, “Parents Day”, and there’s alot more that I won’t give away just yet. My life has always been UNmodern lol. I won’t give too much away, so you will just have to wait and see, lol.

I feel like this album helped me mature even more, mentally and musically. Digging into your life, you tend to evaluate some of the choices you made and are currently making. As I was writing these stories, I realized things that I could of done differently. This album has its serious moments and its fun moments are well. The sound is totally diverse. I try to bring something different which each project, and i’m very proud and excited to share this one. I want to give a big thanks to the big bro (Mega Ran) for reaching out and wanting to help me push this project through his RandomBeats, Productions label. All I want to do is spread LOVE, good music and positivity through the melodies. I want to be the voice for this generation and give them someone to look up to and I feel this album is really gonna register with some people. Really touch their lives. I feel the state of music currently (ESPECIALLY HIP HOP) needs some sort of liberation. Music can be used as the number one tool, that taps into the listeners brain and also the soul. You gotta watch, what you let into your spirit.

It’s also gonna be the first project i’m gonna sell, so that’s exciting too, I guess lol. I had to come to terms with this decision because, I have been giving all my projects away for free, you know, because I just wanted it to get out there. Especially for the people who may can’t pay $7 or something for music. Times are hard in this economy, you know? But, this is also my career so I guess, I need to make some income lol. I have known for a while that my supporters been waiting for the chance to, well you know, actually support me lol. So, when I made this announcement, they were excited. Guess it was the right choice. We shall see lol. This is just the beginning of my journey, but i’m learning every step of the way. The coolest nerd you ever heard, signing out! Okaaaaaaay!!!

-Paint The Sky,Blew!!!

 

Sammus : Managing Infinite Lives

Managing Double/Triple/Quadruple Lives

 

I still can’t believe how crazy the past year has been. Last summer I had just finished up my second full-length album [PRIME], and was anxiously preparing for my first performance that required air-travel. This summer I dropped a Kickstarter-funded Metroid EP, shot the video for the first single off said EP, flew to Seattle and Orlando for some very fun performances, headlined the hip-hop stage at my local cultural festival, landed a write-up in an airline magazine, and a lot of other things I’ll probably remember after this gets published. Oh yeah – last week I also received my Master’s degree after passing a rather intense written and oral exam in my PhD program. Like I said, it’s been a crazy year.

For the past three years I have been chipping away at a PhD at Cornell University, while pursuing a career as a nerd rapper and producer, and more recently serving as an Assistant Residence Hall Director on campus and an Assistant Manager at the graduate student center. People often ask me how I manage to hold it all together – to which I respond that I don’t really. Every now and then there’s peace and I’m able to focus on one aspect of the chaos but more often each strand overlays the other so that I feel like I’m being crushed by their collective weight. The reality is that I spend a fair amount of time panicking and questioning every decision I make.

While I think we can all agree that prolonged stress and anxiety are definitely not healthy, I’ve also come to accept that anybody who wants to be exceptional in multiple areas is going to deal with a lot of worry sometimes. Still, I do think it is possible to minimize the general stress that accompanies ambition. One doesn’t have to develop broad sweeping goals that resemble those dreaded unattainable new years resolutions we often make. Instead I suspect that it’s probably better to think about micro changes that can be implemented to temper the daily craziness.

For me this has meant something as seemingly trivial as being more intentional about my social media usage. When I first started rapping seriously, I did what any good artist in the Internet age would do – I created a WordPress website, and booted up the necessary social media pages to reflect my Sammus persona. At that time I wasn’t doing too much, so I updated my social media pages as needed. When things happened (blogs posted my songs, I had shows coming up, etc) I posted about them. And when nothing was going on, I didn’t feel the need to post anything. However as time passed and I met with some successes, I felt compelled to post more and more, even if more and more wasn’t necessarily happening or it was becoming increasingly complicated to manage my various pages alongside my other responsibilities. By the time I had developed a small fan base, I had expanded to every social media platform that I knew – now I had to manage a Facebook account, Twitter, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, Tumblr, Youtube and of course, my website.

Prior to this year I remained committed to posting regularly. However after a series of unfortunate events around the beginning of 2014, I found myself avoiding all social media and focusing on myself. I didn’t post anything for a while – and I realized that taking a break was okay. What I had to remember was that I started out making music because I thought it was a fun thing to do. I also had to remember that presumably the people who like me are still going to like me and my music even if (because??) I’m not in their faces every second of the day talking about how awesome I think my music is. Obviously pursuing music professionally means that I will have to deal with many not-so-fun aspects of music like marketing and promoting my work ad nauseum (although my manager handles a fair amount of that) but there is something to be said for taking a step back to reassess how all of that work ties in to the passion:obligation ratio every now and again.

I would be lying if I said that I am not totally exhausted at the end of most days, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

~Sammus