Mega Ran is a true nerd.
While some artists covet awards or million-plus streams on Spotify, he's measured himself by hitting geekier goals. For example, the MC appeared on WWE’s SmackDown in July 2017 during a rap battle between then-bitter rivals The Usos and The New Day.
"It was literally a dream come true," he says. "I love rap and wrestling, but I never knew that they would come together."
During the battle, Mega Ran (also known as Raheem Jarbo) stood mid-ring as a member of The New Day’s posse. But behind the scenes, he worked with member Xavier "Austin Creed" Woods to help whip the grapplers into battle-rap shape. The pair met in 2010 when Woods reached out to Mega Ran to secure music as part of an "early version" of the wacky, hyper-positive New Day gimmick. While that idea never came to pass, Mega Ran was an obvious choice for the battle rap.
It was backstage at the taping where Mega Ran also met another famous wrestler with a penchant for rapping.
"We’re there, and then John Cena comes in the room," Mega Ran says. "At one point he says, ‘I’m a little disappointed they brought in a ghostwriter.’" As Mega Ran explains, Woods wrote his own material, adding, "Xavier can sell water to a whale. I’ve often said rapping is like cutting a promo to a beat."
That "gift" explains why Mega Ran recruited Woods for a brand-new song, "Sunset Flip," a bonus track of his recent AGES Vol. 1 release. After his wrestling foray, this was Mega Ran’s chance to let Woods into his world.
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"Woods loves Lil Dicky, and he’s got a song with Snoop [Dogg] about becoming a professional rapper," Mega Ran says. "So I thought we could have a conversation where I become a professional wrestler, but then I was like no, he’d talk me out of it." Mega Ran and Woods make for an excellent tag team, and their lyrical back-and-forth plays like a deliberately cheesy ode to a certain kind of '80s rap.
Technically, it's their second collaboration: According to Mega Ran, Woods once wrote a verse to his 2010 track "Player Two," which laid some groundwork for "Sunset Flip."
Mega Ran applauds Woods' skill and flexibility, adding, he’s "a chameleon who can do it all and do it well." He’s hoping Woods and his New Day brethren, Big E and Kofi Kingston, expand beyond wrestling, like recording an album about "unicorns and booty and pancakes."
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As such, Mega Ran sees the rap-wrestling merger as a good thing, adding that we’re "just seeing the beginning" of their fruitful union. He highlights Josiah Williams, who went from making hip-hop remixes to landing a job at WWE's NXT promotion.
Aside from a follow-up with Woods, Mega Ran says he’d love to collaborate with WWE’s Cena or R-Truth and Scorpio Sky, a wrestler from "rival" All Elite Wrestling. But after taking a break from the long-running Mat Mania Podcast, he's now happy to be a fan.
"The lead into Survivor Series [was] amazing,” he says. "And it was unreal to see a guy like Adam Cole beat Daniel Bryan [recently]. AEW is some of the best wrestling in the world. We’re in a real good place in wrestling. I’m not into the dirt sheets, or who cheated on who. I just like to watch and enjoy."