Raheem Jarbo has become a nerdcore icon rapping about his favorite things in life. Performing and recording under the name Mega Ran, he’s rocketed to geek stardom by dropping hundreds of tracks on such cheesy passions as video games, anime, and wrestling over the past 14 years.
He tapped into another longtime love for his latest project, the basketball-themed album. Live ’95. The 14-track release, released on October 22, features Jarbo rapping about his passion for the sport, its impact on his teenage years, and the life lessons he learned.
While basketball may not have the instant geeky cachet of Nintendo games or other nerdy topics it has dealt with in the past, Jarbo says. Live ’95 is an important project for him and deals with something close to his heart.
âIt seems that as nerds we can be a little intimidated by the idea of ââsports, so I was like, ‘What if they don’t get it? “Jarbo tells Phoenix New Times on the road with the nerdcore-centric Four-Eyed Horsemen Tour. âBut sport has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. After playing [Nintendo] As a child, I would then go to the park and shoot a basket. So sport is just as synonymous with Mega Ran as it is with playing. It’s a part of me that I mostly kept to myself, which is good. I think we all have parts of us that we don’t necessarily share.
True to form, the album is also inspired by a video game, the flagship title of EA Sports, NBA Live 95, which Jarbo played “religiously” as a teenager in Philadelphia. The game was released in October 1994 during Jarbo’s final year of high school and the heyday of his basketball fan.
The ball was the life of Jarbo at this time, who played on his school’s junior varsity team (including a game against future NBA legend Rasheed Wallace) and followed the biggest stars of the time.
âI collected cards, bought magazines, hung up posters,â he says. “I could calculate the number of points per game for each of my favorite players like Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues and Spud Webb.”
When he started attending Penn State University in 1995, Jarbo says his love of basketball followed him to college.
“My whole dorm was going crazy [NBA Live 95] and we would have all these tournaments, âhe said. âSo many of my favorite memories are tied to that game and that year. I really understood how to be a man on a personal level, so a lot of the songs are also about experiences during that time and what I was doing. have learned.
Good to know: “Flight 2.0” covers how Jarbo tempers his obsession with sneaker culture and collects cool shoes with ethical issues regarding how these shoes are made in sweatshops. In “1995”, he remembers his difficulties leaving home to go to college.
Some songs cover more important issues. With “Craig Hodges”, Jarbo raps on the former Chicago Bulls star of the same name who wore a dashiki and wanted to discuss the rights of African Americans when the team went to the White House after winning the NBA title in 1992.
“I thought it was the coolest thing there was,” Jarbo says. “Here is this guy who could have turned up and taken a picture with the president, but he actually tried to have legitimate conversations about social injustices.”
Jarbo’s interest in making a basketball album was manifested in March during live concerts with touring mates Four-Eyed Horsemen MC Frontalot, MC Lars and SchÃ¤ffer the Darklord where each rapper freestyle on a given subject.
âWe had a theme every month and we were like, let’s all pick some famous Patricks in history,â Jarbo says.
He went with Patrick Ewing, imagining the New York Knicks legend had become a rapper after leaving the NBA. It rekindled his passion for basketball.
âI was like, ‘This is great, this is fun,’ and after the gig was over, I just started writing songs about basketball,â Jarbo says. “It was like lightning struck me.”
He also saw it as a challenge to step out of his comfort zone with something new, something he likened to Michael Jordan’s brief stint in baseball during his two-year hiatus from the NBA in the mid-90s.
âI’m a far cry from the star he was, but it’s a bit similar,â Jarbo says. âI wanted to pivot to something different. I’ve done all of these albums on video games, pop culture, and TV shows, but there’s always a time when you want something new. So this is my foray into baseball, so to speak, but I hope it ends much better. ”
So far, Jarbo’s sports bet has paid off. Live ’95 reach the best hip-hop albums from iTunes in the days following its release. Meanwhile, the music video for “Flight 2.0” began airing on cable channel BET Jams.
No matter what happens, Jarbo records the experience as W.
âI feel like the sport has kind of invigorated my creativity. I had a great time putting it all together and got to talk to some of my favorite NBA stars,â Jarbo said. . “It all looks like a great victory.”