The Avengers may still be kicking plenty of ass at the box office, but don't get it twisted -- superheroes are not easy to come by.
As luck would have it, though, the closest thing to a hero Phoenix has will be making an appearance at this weekend's Comicon. He won't be donning a mask or a cape, and he won't have a suit of armor or a mythological hammer. The only things he'll be equipped with are wicked rhymes, some 8-bit beats, and a microphone because, well, rapper Random (a.k.a. Mega Ran) is that kind of hero. An everyday man's hero. Kind of like Batman.
Mega Ran's latest project drops today, just in time for the beloved annual geekfest.
Mega Ran in Language Arts is the first volume in a planned three-part series, penned as a chronicle of the MC's life as a teacher, rapper, and hero. The triple-headed project is equal parts music record, comic book, and video game. We caught up with the recently retired middle school teacher for some insight into the release.
"Well, the concept is loosely based on my own life of being a teacher and a rapper while also trying to maintain relationships, friendships, and trying to balance everything," he says over the phone from Philadelphia. "Me having a hard time throughout my real life is what kind of prompted me to work on this concept project."
Up on the Sun: Can you tell us a little bit about the project?
Mega Ran: It's broken down into three parts because when I originally did it, it was just one project, but it was just was really long. It had different chapters, and they were kind of focused on different aspects of my life. One of them is about education, so the first volume is more about the teacher side. Then one was about me trying to maintain my love life at the same time as trying to maintain teaching and rapping. So that's put aside for volume two, which will be out this summer. And then for volume three, I'll be talking about the rap side of it, because I recently left my job as a teacher in order to make music full-time about a year ago. So that's where it will end, so to speak; where I am today.
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So there's three parts to it. I realized it was a comic book kind of story, and I knew a guy in Philadelphia who is a comic arts designer who asked me about doing a comic for his project. So we did it. He used a lot of things from my real life, like this specific shirt that I wear when I perform. So there's a lot of real-life aspects in the comic as well. That's how we came up with the comic book and record.
The next logical progress with me doing Mega Man stuff and other video game things, was making my own video game. Someone at some point said, "Hey, you should make your own Mega Ran game." That's when the light bulb went on.
And there it is. That's how this triple-threat project came to life. It's something I've been working on for like three or four years, but it just started coming together at the beginning of this year.
So is Mega Ran in Language Arts more alter ego or autobiographical? How much of a correlation is there between the album and the man?
There really is a direct correlation. I had a rough time in my last year as an educator, dealing with the politics of the educational system. It is pretty much from real-life, but I did add a lot of fantasy elements into it. It's something that any musician, educator, police officer, or other public service role is going to be able to relate to. It's the everyday plight of the everyman, I think.
You refer to Mega Ran as teacher, rapper, and hero. Herose are notorious for saving the day. Who would you say Mega Ran is protecting or serving in the hero capacity?
In this album he definitely serves the children, they come first. That's evidenced in the title track, "Language Arts," and a lot of the other songs.
Superman was a great hero, but it's easy to stand up to everybody when you're invincible. But a guy like Batman is a guy who gets hurt and cuts and bruises just like you, but is willing to sometimes sacrifice himself. And I do that myself through music.
And what about the everyday rapper?
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I think to the listener, honestly. Because I get so many people come up to me and say, "This song got me through a rough patch; this song says everything that I feel about my life that I could never articulate." So I feel like, without sounding too pretentious, I can be the hero to the everyman who listens and everyone who can relate to the music.
Superman was a great hero, but it's easy to stand up to everybody when you're invincible. But a guy like Batman is a guy who gets hurt and cuts and bruises just like you, but is willing to sometimes sacrifice himself. And I do that myself through music, by talking about a lot of really tough situations. So it's about the self-sacrifice, so I think that's where the hero comes in. I'm willing to give everything that's inside of me, in order to help the everyday person.
Mega Ran is performing Saturday, May 26, at the Renaissance Salon with Snubby J, and Minibossses.