Mega Ran has had several run-ins with WWE superstars over the years. He’s friends with Xavier Woods of The New Day, rubbed shoulders with John Cena, and appeared on a 2017 episode of SmackDown.
The Valley resident and geek rapper’s latest interaction with a wrestling legend is probably his biggest to date. It also was both heartfelt and personal.
Earlier this week, Mega Ran (real name Raheem Jarbo) was thanked by The Rock on Twitter for paying tribute to WWE legend “Soulman” Rocky Johnson, the late father of the blockbuster actor and former wrestler.
Johnson, a retired African-American professional wrestler who broke down racial barriers in the ’70s and ’80s, died on January 15 of a heart attack. He was 75.
Mega Ran posted an impromptu rap dedicated to Johnson on Twitter the following day, focusing on the wrestler's accomplishments, including becoming the WWE’s first African-American tag-team champion along with Tony Atlas back in the early ’80s.
The rap wound up on the radar of The Rock, who gave love to Mega Ran via Twitter on January 21 and even quoted the rapper’s lyrics.
Appreciate these bars about my pops, Rocky Johnson.— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) January 21, 2020
“First black tag team champs, I’m a believer”
He made us all believe.
Thank you, brother. DJ
Ps; today we lay the “Soulman” to rest. ???????? https://t.co/euoyodEAkm
Mega Ran told Phoenix New Times he was happy to pay tribute to Johnson, who was influential on the rapper’s love of wrestling as a child.
“Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas were like two of my favorite guys growing up. They were a big deal to me,” he says. “As a young black kid, you didn't see a lot of black wrestlers, and usually the ones you did see were Junkyard Dog or Koko B. Ware. Nothing wrong with those guys, but they were a lot more animated and over-the-top, dancing with animals and barking, those kind of things.”
Johnson and Atlas were different, Mega Ran says.
“They were great athletes with massive bodies and they just took care of business without any over-the-top antics. They were just guys who came to play. And that really stood out to me.”
Mega Ran says Johnson’s death “hit me hard.”
“It was definitely a big blow to me, being a big fan of what he'd done. And I feel like he was an unsung hero and more than just The Rock’s dad. A lot of people don't consider him to be a superstar and really didn't get a lot of those accolades and props but, to me, he was a big part of my journey. So it almost felt like a family member had passed.”
The rapper wrote his bars dedicated to Johnson as part of a daily writing exercise he does to “keep the sword sharp.”
“That day I woke up and heard he’d passed and was like, 'Oh, man.' I'd planned to work on a Rocky Johnson track but just never did. Once I heard, I knew I had to do something for him,” Mega Ran says. “Wrote down things that I had known and things people may not have known about him. Just turned it into a rhyme and put it online.”
He adds that he wasn’t trying to capitalize on Johnson’s passing.
“I want to be respectful to the family and everyone and not create something for my personal gain. I want people to learn about Rocky Johnson,” Mega Ran says. “I wasn’t putting out a song and having people pay 99 cents for it that would go into my pocket. That wouldn't feel right.”
While Mega Ran says he was blown away by getting props from The Rock, he tamped down his enthusiasm. It was more than a case of just game recognizing game.
“Again, this is a somber moment. It's not exactly a reason to celebrate. I'm just glad he saw it and, most importantly, he saw the respect and care I put into it. That's the most important thing. I wasn’t trying to get a cheap pop from The Rock.”
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