Thursday, August 23, 2012

Trilogy of the Nerds II: The Sequel!

Awright everybody, I gotta have this suit back by 6, so let’s try and get it right. We’ve got three big things happening in Nerd Media and we need to get to them, so let’s start with Mega Ran - Language Arts: Volume Two.

I remember mentioning when Volume One of Language Arts dropped that this was the project that Mega Ran mentioned when we interviewed for ”Revenge of the Nerds”. (Had to have that bit of vindication.) Spread across a total of the volumes, this is Mega Ran’s big push for 2012 - a series of albums, video game, and comic book telling the story of a teacher who stands on the brink of losing everything - his job, his relationship, and his crown as the best rapper in town. What? It’s Mega Ran. He can do that.

Language Arts: Volume Two is officially out as of two days ago. The story of Mr. J continues as, with all good trilogies, our hero hits rock bottom. I’m not going in to story details; that’s the whole point of the project is a rap concept album telling this story across three chapters. I will say, however, that the story takes a disjointed turn. I understand what’s going on and why it has to happen, but it’s like introducing a part of the story that wasn’t there just to put in jeopardy. Just to have that cliffhanger.

Mind you, I’m well and fully aware that telling stories through concept albums tend to run into rough patches because it’s the nature of the beast. There are good concept albums all over the place (and some not-so-great ones), but all of them have that rough patch due to trying to shoehorn a cohesive story into a format not necessarily meant for that sort of thing. It’s ye olde “trying to fit a round peg in a square hole” analogy, and Language Arts: Volume Two has the added agita of introducing elements not presented before and then having to take a turn for the worse before our hero’s big comeback (?) in Volume Three in November.

Now, the good news? None of that really matters (unless you’re as anal retentive about that sort of thing like I am). I wrote about Volume One that:

There’s a little of the video game-vibe here, but this more harkens back to The Call rather than having much in common with Mega Ran and Black Materia (Hah! That one’s still there!). Language Arts: Vol 01 is a nice hybrid of the more serious, introspective work Mega Ran excels at along with some of the digital rush of the gamer material.

(And speaking of Volume One, I need to interject here with a video that Mega Ran was able to put together from Kickstarter off of that album before we get in to Volume Two proper:)

Good stuff, right?

Now then. Volume Two continues that line of thinking, and shows just how good Mega Ran can be. For as much as the story seems to falter, the polar opposite happens to Ran musical acumen and the overall vibe of his oeuvre. The blending of the “video game” persona and straight hip-hop is more fully realized here, so much so that it almost becomes its own sound. There are less actual video game sounds than Volume One (unless you count bonus tracks), but the feeling is there - and that’s all that’s needed. Mega Ran, much like Lyrics Born, is on the way to achieving his own sound in hip-hop. And it’s amazing to hear in progress. You’re welcome to judge for yourself (for as little as $7!) by going and picking up a copy of Mega Ran - Language Arts: Volume Two. Seriously, you’ll be glad you did.

Next up is Alan. According to the press release for the book, “Alan is a soft science-fiction novel that takes place five years in the future and follows the story of Garth Hendricksen, a previously inconsequential developer, who creates the world's first artificially intelligent entity – Alan. Alan develops over the story from being a simple computer program that can only interface through a text prompt into a fully autonomous robot that can experience the world through sight, sound, and even touch. The reader follows Alan on his quest to determine whether or not he is truly artificially intelligent.”

Sounds pretty intense already, right? I’ve had the chance to read some of it and I’m really looking forward to more. It’s very interesting to see Hex stepping outside of his comfort zone of music director and working on something like this.

I can also report (spoiler-free) that it combines a journal format with that of how you would expect a computer program to develop its intelligence in print. It reads really quick, but not lightly or even close to forgettable. Very well played, sir.

The kickstarter campaign for Alan has met its goal already, but is still taking contributions for other cool perks that hex has lined up for it. I know I’ll be throwing in on it before it’s all said and done (which will be September 18, BTW). And speaking of things I’m donating to...

There’s a reason for this. A very good--well, depending on how you look at it, a very bad reason. I’ll let Mr. WarRock tell the story himself:

[On August 21] I was in St. Louis with my friend K, and basically her car got broken into and all our bags got stolen. In our bags were not only ipods, wallets and sentimental things that we will never replace, but also both our Macbooks. Being that we’re two people who earn a living on Internets, and being that I make music with my laptop, perform from my laptop, and use my laptop to, well, make any and everything that has to do with Adam WarRock, and being that macbooks is expensive, I’m kind of SOL right now.

So we’re going to do something I’ve always wanted to do. We’re going to do a 24 Hour Rap-A-Thon


1. On Friday, August 24, 2012, I will wake up and sign online and timestamp myself.

2. For the next 24 Hours I will make as many songs as I can from complete scratch. No pre-writing, no pre-beat finding, nothing. Just fresh and new, me making music off the dome.

3. As fast as I can make the music, I will throw it up online for everyone to enjoy in real time.

4. People can pledge in two ways: one, a lump sum donation. But c’mon, the more fun way: you pledge a dollar amount per song that I will finish in 24 Hours. After the 24 Hours is over, I will invoice you via paypal to pay the amount (you are free to set a cap on your donation).

5. After the 24 Hours is done, I will burn a Rap-A-Thon CD with all the music made during this day, and send a signed copy and some free swag to everyone who pledges any amount. K has also agreed to make you something too.

6. My friend K will be blogging and tweeting this whole event in real time at @WarRockRapathon. We are working on possibly getting a uStream video up on the site.

7. We are seeking to raise enough money to replace our laptops, which is basically in the vicinity of $2,000. Any and all money raised over that amount will be donated to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization (b/c we were in Missouri, and screw you Todd Akin).

So, Adam WarRock is turning his and K’s misfortune into a hip-hop extravaganza that should be a sight to behold. Hell, without the Rap-A-Thon, I’d be pitching in, anyway. I’ve had a car broken into and stuff stolen out of it I can never replace. (By the way, Guy, be glad you took your crack-ridden ass back to New York. Maybe you’re in a ditch somewhere. Hopefully.) I know how that feels and how much it sucks. So, I’d be donating anyway.

But, a Rap-A Thon? From a guy like WarRock, officially one of the Best Damn %$@#&* Rappers In The Universe? Oh, I’m all in on this. Hopefully you will be, too.

No comments: