Raheem Jarbo -- a.k.a. Mega-Ran, a.k.a. Random -- has managed to blur the lines between hip-hop and video games by delivering a unique blend of 8-bit and heavy hip-hop beats while managing to display a certain level of vulnerability and intelligence. Now, Random has teamed up with director Mike Cardoza to bring his fans a documentary that sheds light on the road life and career of Random. Mega-Lo-Mania is slated to debut Friday, August 22, at FilmBar as Random attempts to take his career to new heights.
Random met Cardoza at a video shoot for "Doubt Me," which features Tempe rising star Futuristic. Cardoza bounced some ideas to Random, including one that involved following an artist on tour. Random's wheels began to turn.
"It was one of those 'big ideas' that just stuck," Jarbo says. "You know how you meet someone and they say something like, 'It would be dope if . . .' or 'we should . . .' I'm the type of guy you can't say those things around, because if it's a good idea, I'm going to follow up, and try to make it happen."
The documentary itself touches on Random learning the new territory of working with a live band on the road, the Lo-Classics, as they attempt to provide a live sound element for Random as he tours the West Coast.
The 30-minute piece also goes in-depth about Random's success as a "nerdcore" rapper, including the creation of his now famed Mega-Ran album. The 35-year-old former teacher has his own views on his blend of video game 8-bit and pounding boom bap.
"I call it 'chip-hop' sometimes, but that only describes the particular style of beats I use sometimes," Jarbo says.
When asked to describe his sound, Random says he understands his roots while making room for growth.
"I describe it as hip-hop. At its root, it's rap music that isn't afraid to be vulnerable, fun, silly, angry, or imaginative. I'm 'Random' for a reason. I just don't feel like it's easy to categorize."
While keeping that in mind, Random continues to play huge "nerd-oriented" events such as the hugely popular San Diego Comic-Con this past year. During his visit, he managed to rub shoulders with the likes of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Weird Al Yankovic, and even Wesley Snipes.
"Comic-Con is always nuts, but this year, I had such a full schedule I didn't really get to enjoy the actual con. But the lines are longer than ever and the crowds are crazier, but there's no other place that literally everyone I respect is in the building at once."
After the documentary debuts in Phoenix, Random plans to take the piece out on the road for what he calls a "documentary screening tour." Random explains his plan as the next logical step in his progression as an artist.
"I'm looking into bringing screenings to New York, L.A., Texas, and everywhere in between. I want to bring a new experience to folks who have seen me perform and enjoyed that, so this is the evolution of the live experience."
Random will hit the road next week with fellow Arizona hip-hop star and Murs 3:16 signee Marley B. From there, the self-proclaimed "teacher-rapper-hero" will head overseas with longtime friend, collaborator, and Arizona hip-hop legend Mr. Miranda for a few dates in the United Kingdom.
Mega-Lo-Mania premieres Friday, August 22, at FilmBar. Admission costs $9.
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