Monthly Archives: August 2012

Language Arts Part 2 Review

Random, aka Mega Ran, is one of my all time favorite nerdcore rapper.  He first came to people’s attention with his release of Mega Ran in 2007, a concept album using remixed music from the first eight Mega Man games.  Capcom, having heard about it, gave him a special license agreement to use the music and took him to San Diego Comic Con with them.  He later released Mega Ran 9 and Mega Ran 10.  Other albums include: Forever Famicon, a NES classics tribute and Black Materia, an album based on Final Fantasy VII.  His music has been heard in television, movies, video games, and university courses in several colleges.  He has toured the US, UK, and even Japan.

While becoming the rap star he is today, Random’s day job was a middle school teacher.  He left that job last year, but his time as a teacher  help inspire his latest music project “Language Arts.”  It is a multi-part album/comic book/computer game deal, initial funded through Kickstarter. Part 1 tells the story of Random as a teacher who is a part time rapper whose kids become obsessed with a new violent video game (Killcount) and they start skipping classes and letting their grades drop.  He is told that if his kids do not start showing up and getting better grades, he will be fired.  That is where album one leaves off.

Language Arts: Volume Two cover art

Random released Language Arts Part 2 recently and I got an early sneak peek to listen over.  The story for this one is that while Random deals with his job being in jeopardy only to find out he has a new problem.  Another local rapper, Z-Dub, has challenged Random to a rapping contest to .  Things at school still are not going his way, but he marshals on.  He discovers that the kids playing Killcount are not committing crimes and creating chaos.  Random also falls for a girl and they start dating only to have her leave him for feeling neglected.  At first Random is happy about his renewed “freedom” but is convinced by his friend to get her back.  When he goes to see he discovers she has been kidnapped by Z-Dub.  All this in ten tracks.

This album helps illustrate why I feel Random is one of the top nerdcore acts around.  The content of the songs are not really what you call nerdy, there are plenty of references but the songs themselves are not about a “nerd topic,” but they are well done and get you into them.  Basically what I am saying is I do not just listen to Random cause he raps about video games, but cause I like how he raps.  Each song hooks you and will have you jamming to the beat.  You can also follow the story they tell fairly well and each one feels different giving you a selection Random’s range.

On the first ablum, there was a song called Buggin (The Metamorphosis) about Franz Kafka’s story “The Metamorphosis.”  (You can find the music video for it here.)  This time he pays tribute to Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” in the song “Me & Mouse.”  They are both are pretty straight forward simply telling the stories in rap form.  Which is something that I find to be a great way to get people interested in those stories.  The song also features MC Lars handling a few verses in the song, which makes sense since he is a literary influenced rapper himself.

Another track I want to highlight is “Hip-Hop Chick” in which Random’s love interest is introduced.  It is what you will not here from most mainstream rappers, a song that is respectful to women.  It is one of the things I like about nerdcore.

Other guests on the album are Chaundon, Mela Machinko, Homeboy Sandman, ZeeDubb (as Z-Dub), Wordsworth, and Sammus.  Anime and video game voice actor Kyle Hebert serves as the narrator introducing the album and the conclusion.  The beats were mixed by DJ DN3 and mastered by K-Murdock, both having worked with Random on various albums.

There is also a bonus track called “Super Move” that is only available from downloading the album from  iTunes.  If the albums does well enough to get ranked, Random promises to do something special for all his fans.  The song is not really part of the story of Language Arts but is Random with Has-Lo, Open Mike Eagle, and Zilla Rocca doing a great video game inspired track.  Worth getting.

This album is a must have for any Random fan and if you are not already a fan this would be a good place to start off with.

The next volume comes out November 20th.  See you then.

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J-Pop Fest

The J-Pop Summit Festival is a street fair in Japantown of San Francisco that promotes  Japanese pop culture.  The festival is hosted by New People in conjunction with the Japantown Merchants Association.  This year the event will take place on August 25 & 26.

J-POP Summit Festival 2012 Official Logo
The festival brings in several music acts and bands for the weekend.  Both from Japan and the US.  They will all be preforming at the Peace Plaza of Japantown and are free to all.

The music starts at 11:30am at with SpaceKraft.  A elecronica music duo featuring dancers from Earth Child Ankokuh Butoh Cell.
At 12:15 The Glowing Stars, a chiptune band, takes the stage.  This group is one guitarist/vocalist, a drummer Game Boy, and a synth programmer to combine 8-bit sounds with live drums and guitars.They will be doing a signing at the New People tent at 12:45.

Random Encounters, not the same thing as the band Random Encounter, plays at 1:30pm.  This group makes show-tune inspired comedic numbers based on video games.  They have gotten the attention of Nintendo, Namco, Sega, and more.

3:45pm has the Jrock band Akabane Vulgars playing their first ever West Coast show.  This trio of girls hail from Japan with a bluesy-rock style.  They will also be doing a signing at 4:40 New People tent.

Vocalekt Visions will be doing one of their Vocaloid holographic concerts as well.  Using HD projectors to bring life to the Vocaloid singers.  Several Vocaloid dancers from the area will be joining them on stage as well.  The who is at the New People Cinema at 7:30pm and 9pm.  Tickets for this is $15 though, seating is limited.

On Sunday at 11am the Bay Area Girls will be up.  They are an all-girl rock band on 12 and 13 year olds.  Starting at a school talent show, these girls have started to play some notable gigs already. Signing at 11:30am.

At 11:45 All Ages takes the stage.  A San Francisco based rock band inspired by Jrock who have gotten to play in Japan with some top acts there like the Pillows and Red Bacteria Vacuum.  Signing at 12:15.

Vex Mode a DJ and video game music producer plays at 12:30.  He will bring remixes  of Jcore to the festival to rock out to.  His signing is at 1pm.

Capital performs at 1:30pm.  Capital has a MA in Jpop music research, been on over 20 albums of various genres, has had performances broadcast on TV in Japan, and has toured internationally.  You can get his autograph at 2:15pm.

At 3:45 18 year old Jpop singer and songwriter Kylee will performer.  She is a rising star in both the US and Japan.  She has been featured on the Today Show, music used in commercials, and even sang for President Obama.  She’s kind of the headliner of the weekend.  She will be doing signings in the New People store at 5pm.

The festival close out with DJ REViSE and DJ Amaya playing at 5pm.  Revise is an American who collaborates with Japanese Hardcore artists, appearing on tracks with various artists and playing festivals in Japan.  Amaya has been producing original tracks and remixes since 2002.  He has down a number of well known remixes of various Japanese supserstars and pop idols plus Vocaloid music too.  He has his own podcast, Hitsuzen Radio, that plays the best in Japanese remixes and dance music.

There are other things at the show as well. Various fashion shows, contests, and booths with designers from Japan.  Special Evangellion interactive game, a museum original concept and production art, a stamp rally, and showings of the latest movies.  Rome Kanda a Japanese media personality.  Food trucks, arts and craft vendors, art exhibits, a dance contest, and more.  Check out the website to see what all is going down.  http://www.j-pop.com/2012/

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Gen Con’s Music Events

After working through some personal stuff I am back to tell you about the musical events at Gen Con Indy this weekend.  They have a number of different acts and styles through out the con. From filk and comedy to geek rock and nerdcore to things even stranger.

Things start on Thursday at 7p with the Damsels of Dorkington. The group is three ladies and one guy in a dress who preform a mixture of improv, music, and geekery.  The group will be doing a long-form improv show about an ‘untold’ story of King Aruther and the Knights of Camelot.  This mature event will be in the Crowne Plaza Grand Central Ballroom and cost you $4.

Then it is Marc Gunn at 8pm, presenting Firefly Drinking Songs.  Gunn will be presenting songs from his Firefly Drinking Song CD.  It costs $2.

Friday at 3pm, there will be the strangest music of all the con, a Klingon Opera Ballet.  Put on by il Troubadore, a Klingon Music Project, and the Different Drummers Belly Dancers.  It will consist of a performance of a tale about a warrior winning back his love after a ten year absence done all in Klingon, called “wa’ SaD ram wa’ ram je” (One Thousand Nights & a Night).  It all goes down in the Indianapolis Convention Center Ballroom  and will last only an hour.  The event will cost $6.

Nerdcore rappers Soup Or Villainz will be performing at the con on Friday 6pm.  Soup Or Villainz is a duo of high class villains Remi-son and Viet Vu and their henchpeople; they plan for world domination with their hypnotizing beats and lyrical mysticism turning the youth into zombies.  Well that’s what they claim.  Their show is in the Grand Ballroom of the Westin and is free.

Friday at 7pm the Damsels of Dorkington will be doing a panel with 100% honest disclosure to any questions asked of them.  Sharing their experiences from cons all over the country.  Possible guest moderator to appear.  Crowne Plaza Grand Central Ballroom.

Five Year Mission, the band that aims to write a song for every episode of the original Star Trek, has a hour and a half concert Friday 8pm in the Westin’s Grand Ballrooms.  Cost for this one is $4.

Friday night features the “Friday Night Live” comedy and music concert starting at 9pm and going till 11.  The great Luke Ski, Damsels of Dorkington, Marc Gunn, Mikey Mason, Tom Smith, & Dan the Bard.  The show is in the Crowne Plaza Grand Central Ballroom for $2.  A good chance to sample several different acts.

A new quartet of rocks called The Next Two Bands are having a concert Saturday at 2pm for half and hour in the Westin Grand Ballroom.  They sing songs about sex and sci-fi cranking the hyperdrive into punk.  Or so they say.  Show costs $2.

Geek Rock Comedian Mikey Mason brings his own brand of geek comedy and music to the con.  Know for songs “She Don’t Like Firefly” and “Best Game Ever.”  The show starts Saturday at 2pm and goes for one and half hour in the Crowne Plaza Grand Central Ballroom.  From my experience the show will be worth the $2 admission.

Gen Con’s Costume Contest is Saturday at 4pm in the Indianapolis Convention Center Ballroom.  The great Luke Ski will be performing at half time, yet again for another year.  The Different Drummer Belly Dancers doing a pre-contest show.

Geek rock band Sci-Fried performs Saturday at 5:30pm.  Sci-Fried is a six piece band from Florida with songs about Star Wars, video games, comics, zombies, and more, they will be performing new songs from their album CO-OP MODE.” The show takes place in the Westin’s Grand Ballroom for $4.

Professor Shyguy will be bringing his 8bit, high energy danceable nerd pop to the con.  His performance consists of him singing, playing guitar, keyboards, and drums, sometimes three of those things at the same time.  The show is in the Westin’s Grand Ballroom Saturday at 7pm and is $6.

The Damsels of Dorkington are back also at 7pm on Saturday in the  Crowne Plaza Grand Central Ballroom.  This time with Comic Book Comedy and more improvisation of all things for geeks and nerds.  Event is $4 and is of mature level.

Marc Gunn returns on Saturday at 8pm for another round of drinking songs.  This event will cover songs for Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and more back in the Crowne Plaza Grand Central Ballroom for $2.

For the 18th year the great Luke Ski will be performing his music at Gen Con.  From his latest parody hits and original fan favorites, covering topics from TV, movies, pop culture, and just about everything else a nerd could love.  The show is Saturday at 9pm right after Marc Gunn.  Show is $2.

Tom Smith closes things out on Saturday at 10pm after Luke.  Tom is known at The World’s Fastest Filker and performs in every style but dull.  Songs about gaming, computers, fantasy, silly Cthulhu, and a lot of awful puns.  Again the show is just $2.

The Different Drummer Belly Dancers will also be doing roving performances Thursday 11am and 5pm, Friday noon and 4:30pm, and Sunday 10:30am and 3pm.  Also belly dancing classes throughout the weekend for all levels; classes are $10.  Thursday at 1 and 2pm, Friday at 2 and 6pm, Sunday 1pm; all of them will be in Room 206 of the Indianapolis Convention Center.

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