The Recipe | Mega Ran [Mixtape & Interview]

Philadelphia’s Raheem Jarbo (better known as Mega Ran) has been weaving his way through the world of gaming since 2006. Self-described as “chip-hop” with a solid foundation in nerdcore, chiptune, and hip-hop, Mega Ran laces lofty lyrics over the nostalgia of video game soundtracks from classic franchises like TMNT, Donkey Kong, Final Fantasy, and of course, Mega Man. Jarbo has been honing his songwriting and production skills since the mid-90s and released his debut album, The Call, in 2006. Since then, he has released seven albums and a slew of singles, collaborations, and EPs along with several in-game features. His most recent album, Soulful Veggies, was released in 2015 and met with praise by a fan-base that has rightfully grown beyond the gaming demographic. For the 9th edition of our Recipes series, Mega Ran gave us an eclectic playlist inspired by his current influences and the classic video game aesthetic with tracks by Dirty Projectors, Chet Faker, Skyblew, and Killer Mike.

What motivates you to make music? The desire to be the best. I want to be mentioned with the greats when it’s all over. That’s the motivation. Wanting to take the culture to a higher place than it’s ever been.

The connection between your music and video games is apparentwhat other creative mediums influence your work? Of course. Books, comics, my mom’s anecdotal stories from my youth….encyclopedias, my experience as a teacher, everything.

What’s your favorite game at the moment? I don’t have time to play games all the way through these days, but I really like this new Mad Max game.

Which artists do you think are currently influencing the direction of nerdcore & chiptune the most? There are a few, but nerdcore seems to be directly influenced by MC Frontalot, who created the term and continues to innovate. In chiptune, it seems to be guys like Danimal Cannon, Chibi-Tech and Trey Frey, who keep innovating and doing some amazing things.  

Which game soundtrack is most memorable to you? Mega Man 2. Forever. I used to record it onto cassettes and listen to it on the way to school in my Walkman, and label it “rap jams” so no one would know. Now 20 years later, it’s still awesome to me.

Check out one of our favorite tunes by Mega Ran: “By Your Side”

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“A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal.” — Pat Conroy