Teacher. Rapper. Wrestling personality. Unlikely worlds collide in a happy ending for Mega Ran.
By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
Asking Raheem Jarbo – more popularly known by his stage name, Mega Ran – how one becomes an extra on WWE SmackDown Live during a rap battle between The New Day and The Usos is probably asking the wrong person.
“[Woods] emailed me to introduce himself,” Mega Ran told The Gorilla Position in an exclusive interview. “He told me he was a wrestler working in Florida Championship Wrestling and that they were allowed to pick their own entrance music. He said he would love to come out to ‘Lookin’ Up‘ from the Mega Ran 10 album. I told him, absolutely! This was a dream come true – to have my music play as an entrance theme!”
A bucket list item was first crossed off by Xavier Woods for a fan growing up in Philadelphia. Mega Ran said he was introduced to the World Wrestling Federation at a young age by watching with his cousin Howie on a Saturday morning. The larger-than-life characters – the comic book come to life, as he described it – captivated Mega Ran at a young age and he never looked back.
The thrall of comic book characters come to life makes a lot of sense considering Mega Ran’s upbringing. The semi-autobiographical “Dream Master” from the 2010 album he recorded with producer K-Murdock, Forever Famicom, explains how he escaped the trials and tribulations of a rough neighborhood by drawing inspiration from fantasy:
Just when people couldn’t like the boy any less,
Around the same time shorty got an N.E.S.
Cause his mom felt this was the best way to keep him out the streets,
Although they was penniless
Only child, so she didn’t want an empty nest
And it’s a healthier addiction than cigarettes
And so it began, how did he escape this scene?
He sat in front of that screen, and chased his dreams.
Jarbo came out of Philadelphia and through college to be a school teacher while pursuing a music career. Mega Ran – originally known as Random – started out in Gospel very early on, but then moved in to Hip-Hop in 2006 with the release of The Call. However, it was after that he then found a different calling altogether. He explained in an earlier interview in 2010, “Musically, I just wanted to take a new direction. I felt like I had said everything I wanted to say as a musician, I talked about everything that was bothering me and everything that was good with the world, and I felt like there was really nothing else to say. I just sat music down for a while – didn’t make or play anything – and eventually I got back in to video games. I was playing a lot of retro stuff, especially the Mega Man series that I loved so much, and that made me want to do something with that. I wanted to do a Mega Man rap album. I searched around to see if anyone had done anything like that before, and no one had, so I said, ‘I’m gonna do it.”
Soon after taking inspiration from the famous video game character, Mega Ran had doors opened to him he never dreamed of. “I got a message on MySpace from Capcom,” Mega Ran said at the time. “The head of the Capcom Community Division contacted me and wanted me to be a site moderator and invite me out to events and work with them. They invited me out to [the San Diego] ComiCon and I had a great time. They could have easily shut me down, but they realized it’s not hurting anybody and, really, all I’m doing is promoting their character. I can’t say it’s a dream come true, because I never even imagined something like this would happen.”
It was moments like that initial contact with Capcom and having the song “Splash Woman” played on Comedy Central and several other television shows that enabled Mega Ran to leave teaching behind and pursue his rap career full-time. Whether it’s on his own or working frequently with K-Murdock and others such as Storyville or Bag Of Tricks Cat (such as on his newest album, Emerald Knights 2), Mega Ran has been one of the most successful independent hip-hop artists ever, having recently landed on the Billboard charts with Emerald Knights 2.
In 2016, Mega Ran returned to his fandom of wrestling and released Mat Mania, a collection of remixes of current WWE themes with his unique spin. The first one he recorded – “New Day Raps” – prompted him to reach out to an old friend to gauge the quality.
“A producer friend of mine reached to me and asked why I hadn’t remixed any wrestling themes,” Mega Ran said about the origins of the album. “I immediately thought back to WWE Aggression and maybe liking a couple of them but I wasn’t a huge fan. I always said I wouldn’t do anything if I thought the end result would be bad. But I decided to give it a try and the first one I made was ‘New Day Raps.’ I sent that to Woods just so he could hear it and told him if he didn’t love it, I wouldn’t release it. He heard it and was really excited! I played it for [Kofi Kingston and Big E] and they were really excited. I thought if I got the approval of the guys who have to listen to this every day of their lives, then maybe I have a chance.”
It was in the midst of the release of Mat Mania that Mega Ran received a call from Woods with an offer he couldn’t refuse. “Woods called me and asked if I was going to be in Phoenix because they were planning a rap segment and Woods wanted me involved to help out with the segment,” Mega Ran said. “My response was, ‘Are you kidding me?’ If I wouldn’t have been, I would have made sure to be there!”
The segment was originally planed to be filmed in a warehouse earlier in the day, Mega Ran said. As the shoot went on, WWE officials – including Brian “Road Dogg” James, who wrote the segment – decided they wanted the segment to be part of the live show rather than a taped segment.
“Woods showed me around and introduced me to everyone,” Mega Ran said. “Rusev, Mark Henry – Woods introduced me to guys like this and introduced me as, ‘This is the rapper I was telling you about!’ To meet these guys who I grew up watching or were watching now was unreal.”
The success of Mat Mania begat two other records under that banner. Earlier this year, another opportunity was afforded to Mega Ran by way of current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega, himself a video game fan. Mega Ran revealed that CEO tournament organizer Alex Jebailey reached out to Mega Ran about performing a theme song for the CEO x NJPW event. The initial idea, Mega Ran said, was to perform the song live but plans were changed to have the song played for Omega and Kota Ibushi. The result was “Golden” – which has gotten great acclaim from Omega himself as well as many fans who heard the song live that night.
From a lonely childhood through college and the education field, Mega Ran dreamed his way to a music career and being involved in the sport he loved watching as a kid.
So he decided to combine his love for the games and raps
Open his soul up and let ‘em in,
Then he chopped up some 8 bit sounds, put it down
Now Random is now known as Mega Ran.
Now his name’s all over that internet
Girls who didn’t care are now interested
And the best part of the story, comes at the end
But that part hasn’t been written yet…
Follow Mega Ran online:
Facebook: Mega Ran
July 18-21, 2018 – Mega Ran will be a part of this year’s Gathering of the Juggalos!