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D&D Sluggers Getting Strange

stranger radio

Like a lot of Netflix users around the world, D&D Sluggers (also known as Tim White) couldn’t stop watching the 80’s Sci-Fi love letter, Stranger Things.The latest DDS song “Radio”, pays tribute to beloved minor character Barb and her short harrowing journey while also referencing the life of a solo artist.
You may remember D&D Sluggers from the mega hit single, “Infinite Lives” from Mega Ran ( RNDM ).
“Radio” and albums like “Hot Banana” are available now!

Meet Our Newest NPC: Godswill Ugwa!

NEW PARTY MEMBER!

In addition to having the dopest name ever, Godswill might also have the dopest job. When he’s not making things go on the social media side at FUNimation, he’s creating, learning languages, and most importantly, nerding out. Get to know G in this NPC Q&A!

Koisplay_Photography_Funimation-5559

1. What are you nerding out on currently?

Currently nerding out on Fire Emblem (GBA game), Danganropan 1, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, and One Piece

2. What’s your most recent games played?

Uncharted 3, Fire Emblem, and Danganropan 1

3. What music is on your playlist?

The current rotation is World’s End Rhapsody (Nujabes), War (Hypnotic Brass Ensemble), Little Weapon and Gold Watch (Lupe Fiasco), Human After All (Daft Punk), Grasslands (Ramzoid), Not Going Back (Childish Gambino), What A Year (Big Sean), and Kimi to iu Hana (Asian Kung-Fu Generation).

4. What do you do in your downtime?

Downtime? What’s that? Haha I’m working on my breakdancing when I get a chance, watching anime, reading internet articles, practicing Japanese or Spanish, and doing yoga entirely past my bedtime.

5. Any past/present involvement in community activities you’d like to speak about?

I don’t participate as much as I’d like to but I’m working with a friend in feeding the homeless of Dallas once a month and I occasionally work with a group called “Islamic Relief” in disaster preparation and assessment.

6. What are you trying to learn to do right now?

Spanish and Japanese languages, dancing, martial arts (Shotokan Karate and boxing), photoshop, photography, and how to get to things on time

7. What should Nerdy People of Color get out of our website and collective?

I believe we should have a hub and a forum to speak on. Also to be connected with big-time nerds of color would be sick.

8. Favorites:

Favorite movie? Phew my favorites have been Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction, The Avengers 1, and The Raid: Redemption.

Favorite Food? That’s hard too. I really enjoy Asian foods like sushi, Korean BBQ, and Indian curries (not spicy). Also can’t beat my Nigerian mother’s cooking of rice and stew with fried plantains.

Favorite website? Well I can’t hide my addiction to Facebook (more ashamed than proud). I do dig Gamefaqs though as I always check out their polls and Top 10s. Also YouTube has me in awe still.

9. What’s upcoming for you?

What’s upcoming for me? Well I’m hoping to be bigger within Funimation for sure! Also hoping to get a girlfriend one of these days haha!

10. Talk about a person or event who made you who you are today.

I gotta thank my big bro Caleb who I met as I entered college. He was the first cool black nerd who had such an aura that inspired me. Hell he brought me into the school and kept me there and then motivated me to create the things and friendships that brought me to where I am now!

11. When did you realize you were a nerd, and when did you become okay with who you were?

I think I really realized it in 9th grade. That was when I first realized I scared people with my geeking out of G4TV and video games. Also that was when I first saw anime for anime’s sake rather than an interesting cartoon. I think I became really cool with it once I entered college.

Get in touch with Godswill on Twitter.

Kojima’s Return to E3

PlayStation’s E3 conference was incredible this year! A full orchestra added a classy feel to the event, and there was stellar trailer after stellar trailer. But what gave me goosebumps was the introduction to one of video games greatest mind and creator, Hideo Kojima. As the curtain drew up, Mr. Kojima made his triumphant entrance, to a roaring crowd. Where after minutes of applause Mr. Kojima said, “Hello… I’m back.” The crowd, me included while watching the event unfold on an android screen, lost our MINDS!

I’m sure if you have no idea who Hideo Kojima is, your first thoughts are, “That’s the Metal Gear guy right? What’s the big deal?” Well, for us Kojima fanboys and girls, it’s like seeing your favorite creator who has been on hiatus return to life, so to speak. It would be like seeing the return of Hayao Miyazaki and revealing a new animated film he’s been keeping secret. For others it would be like George R. R. Martin revealing that the last two books in the Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) series are completed and slated to release at the end of the year. To us Kojima nerds, seeing him on stage is a gargantuan deal. Many of us speculated we would see him, and I think many of us lost hope for a trailer, seeing that he had an interview earlier in the day.

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Before the Ubisoft conference began, Geoff Keighley had a sit down with Kojima. Along with talking about building up a team at his new studio, Kojima Productions, he also mentioned working on putting together something for the fans. He also talked about his twitter tour of different studios, like Naughty Dog and Media Molecule, and gleaning what he could from these amazing studios. As the interview continued on, I was hoping he would mention his new game, but the closest we got was Geoff trying to get Kojima to spill something. He asked about Kojima’s new studio mascot, what I have started calling the Skull-stronaut, Keighley said, “we’ve seen some amazing art you’ve put up online related to the game, I assume, or the character on the logo… there’s an image you put up last week… who’s the character there? People were like ‘is that Norman Reedus’ who is it? Can you tell us anything?” Kojima then explained how fans thought it was just a skull inside the space suit, but that it’s actually a person wearing a skull mask. That person is all of us, the player, which on his official site he has dubbed “Ludens”. The interview ends with Keighly saying he’s glad Kojima is back at E3 and that he will be here for the long run. And we are left to think, “Well, no game reveal, but at least we got to hear what Kojima is up to.” Which in true Kojima fashion, was all smoke and mirrors!

Ya boy was playing us from the beginning of the interview!!! He was repping a shirt with his new games initials. Geoff Keighley even pointed out, that Kojima is intentional about everything he does, and poked at his shirt. His SHIRT!!!! Here’s a pic from the interview:

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So when that curtain went up at the event and Kojima walked down those steps, the goosebumps set in. Then we get the first look at his new game, and in true Kojima style, the music is the first thing to grip you. Then in a buildup he reveals that the protagonist for the game will be Norman Reedus of Walking Dead fame, and star of the failed Konami-Kojima-Guillermo Del Toro Silent Hills game. We then get a confusing, yet spectacular looking, scene that reveals an infant, dead marine life, five floating objects in the sky, and the title reveal. Death Stranding…

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What does it all mean? Is Norman Reedus Death? Is he in some kind of limbo? Is he the Skull-stronaut and is that apart of the game? Did he give birth to a baby!!? Why doesn’t he have a belly button!!!? We’re all going to have to wait until the game is finished but we will have much to think and talk about until the game launches.

So what are your opinions on Kojima’s return to E3 and his new game Death Stranding? We’d love to read your thoughts on this and the rest of E3.

About Jake Lionheart: 

Jake is a riff raff, scallywag, gypsy of a man. He also also make videos about videogames & comics https://www.youtube.com/c/elcheapogames

NPCC Does Denver Comicon

Where to even start? Denver Comicon was an absolute blast. I want to sum up how this convention started with one quote:

Comic Book Classroom was founded in 2010, a Colorado charitable organization focused on enhancing and improving student’s learning experience through the use of comic book media.” “Denver Comicon.” Wikipedia.Wikipedia.org. n.p. Web

The convention uses the profits and sponsors a nonprofit program that takes place all year called Pop Culture Classroom. Pop Culture Classroom uses comics in classroom environments to increase literacy. I mean I played typing racing games all of the time as a kid and  I type 90 words per minute, so I would have to agree that kids learn very well when you wrap the lesson in something that interests them. 🙂

When I first arrived and saw all of the kids there for field trips on a FRIDAY I was a little jealous I won’t lie (then again I was there for a vacation day on a Friday so I shouldn’t complain) and as I read through the program more in depth I thought… “This is mad cool, there are a lot of educational panels! And they’re celebrating teachers all over these signs?! OK DCC I SEE YOU!” For those of you who don’t know me on that level I am a huge believer that we need to increase not only the amount of education we provide to everyone in the world but also the quality of methods we use to relay the information. So when I saw how excited kids were walking over to a “NASA – Women in Science” or “Science of Exoplanets” panel I had already signed off that Pop Culture Classroom / Denver Comicon had my support.

As for any con I perform at, I didn’t get to see as much as I would like to see but here is the rundown for what  Kadesh Flow,  Mega Ran  (Not Meg Ryan) and I smashed into one weekend.

Goosetown Tavern (Thursday): 

After some flight delays and really close calls Ryan (Kadesh Flow) and I made it to Goosetown Tavern Thursday night and got to perform with a bunch of cool cats. We had a lot of fun during our set laying some rhymes and jazz down, and we quickly realized that the altitude shift was no joke. We were cramping and out of breath like 6th graders running the mile for the first time in gym class.

I always love seeing Word Burglar perform, he is that dude you watch and you’re like “Man you’re chill, just want to grab a beer with afterwards!”

I have to say I was blown away by Felix Fast4ward’s set… like it was insanely awesome. To describe it would not do it proper justice, but I’m going to try anyway… Watching it I’m going to assume you will probably have that face you make when you hear something so awesome it’s disgusting (Or when you smell something funky). Smooth beats obviously, but the thing that grabbed my ear was not how he used a diverse sampling set of things (from anime themes to the king – Michael Jackson), but the way he used them. The mixes and transitions were so perfectly blended… It was like a perfectly seasoned four course meal with just the right amount of offset in flavors. Unfortunately the delay mentioned above meant we missed most of the acts before us (Adam SeleneAn Hobbes), but I was able to catch up with some of my friends from the high school and college days.

Felix Fast4Ward (Video Clip Download)

The Con and Maquis Theater (Friday – Sunday):

I’m used to the Dallas Comicon which is usually kind of low key the first day and partly the last day, which was not the case in Denver. While the attendance was obviously the most on Saturday (with that being the only sold out day) people were SHOWING UP with some of the most intense and intricate cosplay I’ve ever seen. There are no days off and almost everyone I spoke to gave about a three month estimate for the outfits.

Now I know The Dallas Fan Girls spend that much time and more on most of their cosplays but I guess I’m just not used to hearing the central tendency for time spent being that for EVERYONE. I will stick to music lol. Even though it took me forever to get a Gjallarhorn in Destiny I was able to find one in two days in Denver so note to self, whenever the Black Gjallarhorn is released in the next expansion… go to Denver, forget you Xur. Or I guess I could just pre-order (OH WAIT I ALREADY DID).

Denver Comicon

The NPCC had a handful of slots for the convention spanning from Friday to Sunday on the 5280 stage (located near one of the entrances to the show floor) if you couldn’t tell from our Facebook posts. I was a little bit worried about the acoustics, but the sound crew was on point and were doing adjustments every song for each act to make sure the artists could deliver wonderful music to the ear holes of each attendee. Mega Ran played on Friday after catching a flight from E3 with some backing horns from 1-UP and Kadesh, and per usual his presence was awesome commanded the floor… I mean what else would you expect from a Mega Ran show?

I hopped up onto DJ Alf’s 45 + 1 set right after which is an extremely cool concept if you haven’t checked it out before (don’t worry I’ll link you to one). He invites different artists up during a two hour time block and each artist performs either a jam or a song they’ve already written over a 45rpm record he spins to (artists choice). What we are left with is a wonderful smorgasbord of different genres and styles over some smooth records, and since I’m not the greatest freestyler I went ahead and did my 8-Bit hero song over the instrumental for  Wings of Honneamise.

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Saturday we were joined by Danimal Cannon for some free roaming of the Con while I basically scoped out things I was going to buy the next day. Lots of really good artwork and crafty things but I was slightly saddened by the smaller “celeb” presence (which I had to remember this is focused on education) in comparison to what I think I’m used to seeing.

But back to the music, I finally got to see an entire An Hobbes set which was cool especially if you’re into story songs like myself. He performed a string of songs off of one of his recent albums in which he focus on just that – telling a string of stories. I won’t get into detail and give any spoilers, but you can check him out  here.

It was a great lead in because after he gathered up everyone’s attention we proceeded to steal it before they could leave.

DCC

Being our first time at DCC, sometimes I forget in these types of scenarios that people will sit when given the option. If you don’t think this is true… walk around a Con all day and then you can pretend like you don’t salivate when you see an empty chair. We jammed out both Saturday and Sunday (Sunday surprisingly being a larger crowd), I bantered, Kadesh threw some sick trombone down while I tooted the sax and we got to meet some really interesting and fun people from all over the state. Bonus find was we got to hang out with  The Fangirls Of Dallas  outside of Dallas which I will say it is always nice to have as many friends in the crowd as possible.

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We stuck around and see  Sunnydale High  after talking to them a little bit (also partly because I used to have a huge crush on Sarah Michelle Gellar) and then a little bit of ghostRADIO. I chatted it up a bit with the drummer’s (SDH) family and they were so nice which is always pleasant to get to hear good music while sitting around good people, and then watched a few songs from ghostRADIO and … wow. I know I keep using words like awesome and wow but that’s literally how I need to describe the awesome music I was exposed to this weekend. Contrary to what some people believe I really like rock shows. ghostRADIO was like a mix of Alien Ant Farm, Incubus and Creed’s studio sound (for their instruments only because I’m not going to insult ghostRADIO’s singer like that). High energy, connected with the crowd and had great musical ability – check them out  here.

Quickly following we dashed to the Marquis theater to catch Daminal’s set. If you haven’t gotten to see him yet he is as great live as he is mixed and mastered. Not just musical talent but you can almost watch the music flow from his heart into the guitar.

Danimal Cannon (Video Clip Download)

And then stayed to jam our tails off with Teacher-Rapper-Hero extraordinaire… MEGA RAN. I’ve already covered Mega Ran through videos so many times I figure you’re tired of hearing me talk about how great his shows are, so instead I opted to get some words from him and Kadesh about the con and how he felt about everything:

Mega Ran, Kadesh and 1-UP (Video Clip)

Mega Ran:

Mega Ran

“As a guy who can say he’s seen them all when it comes to cons, I thought I was ready for the Denver Comic Con experience. I was not.

It’s larger, more expansive and more inclusive than most other conventions in the US, and even the world.

First of all, let’s start with the most important side of things to me, music. DCC has a stage that runs all day, every day with nonstop local and national music talent, something I’ve not seen at any other major city’s Comic Con. It’s a great place to sit and escape from the hustle and bustle for a while, as well as hear some new and interesting music.

Outside of that, the atmosphere was welcoming, the staff was helpful, and the people had an amazing time. That makes Denver Comic Con a rousing success in my book. Can’t wait to visit again.”

Kadesh Flow:

Kadesh

“I’ve been wanting to get out to Denver and perform for over a year, so the idea of finally having an opportunity to do so — and at Denver Comic Con, at that — was exciting. I have compatriots in the nerdy hip hop community whom I did not know even lived in Denver! Playing with and hanging out with them was an immense pleasure.

Unfortunately, 1-UP and I were too busy doing shows and preparing for shows to really experience Denver Comic Con to its fullest. I’m completely okay with this result, but I do have an unanswered curiosity about the con’s programming. I had no idea the event was so huge. I guess I know now. While I do think the performance space could have been more conducive to a live performance, the sound guys were dedicated and professional, and the opportunity to rock multiple shows was an honor! It’s always a pleasure to make new friends/fans and impress those who see us do what we do. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

Ok back to me. Sunday I wasn’t really anticipating a large turnout but there were A LOT of people there. I also saw a handful of repeat faces in the crowd which made me feel like we had done something right to bring them back for more!

Post set I rounded up some art and trinkets for friends and family (and myself) to support the local scene which was probably the most time I got to spend in artist alley. It’s bitter sweet because I got some really cool stuff, but it’s good that I didn’t spend more time there aka send more money than I needed to. But I did score some sweet Power Rangers socks and you all know how much I love them rangers.

The Round Up:

Middle Photo : MarkDago

Middle Photo : MarkDago

Overall I give Denver Comicon an A. If you’ve ever been to one of my shows I’m all about quantifying everything including how I feel about things… just less ambiguous that way.

The amount of unique talent and art they bring in paired with staying on track with a goal that benefits the larger Denver community year round puts them on a level that a lot of people just can’t touch. On top of that the stage manager was very accommodating, always reachable and communicated all updates to us very VERY quickly. There isn’t much else I can ask for from a Con.

Got to see my friends, play multiple shows with my friends and had another excuse to go to a Comicon I hadn’t been to before!

I can’t wait to go back and it’s definitely worth it if you have yet to attend.

~1-UP

 

Mega Ran on “Touring While Black” (Full article)

Mega ran Performer Magazine

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.


TOUR TIME.

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.

All dead.

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.

Mega Ran’s new album RNDM is in stores now.