“But honestly, every author we rapped out on Dewey contains a special meaning to both Mega Ran and myself, which is why we hoped to spread the word about them to our fans.”
The Dewey Decibel System is filled with content that is exactly what the album implies – books. “Nerd-core” artists MC Lars (Andrew Nielsen) and Mega Ran (Raheem Jarbo) teamed up to release the album entirely inspired by their favorite literary pieces.
The album also features collaborations with Jill Sobule, Bowling for Soup’s Jaret Reddick, YouTube legend Dan Bull, nerdcore pioneer MC Frontalot, A$AP Rocky producer Charlie Mumbles, and Akon producer Matt Weiss.
Now the term nerd-core may not be something you’re familiar with. Nielsen describes it as “smart music about popular culture topics, specifically ‘nerdy’ topics.” He says that the term was coined in the mid 90’s by Santa Barbara’s Nerf Herder to describe their music.
Nielsen and Jarbo started as independent artists before teaming up together. Both are hosts of successful podcasts. Mega Ran has built a following in the “chip-hop” community with his work merging 8-bit beats with lyrics. MC Lars has hosted TEDx talks, toured on Vans Warped Tour and collaborated with “Weird Al” Yankovic.
“Mega Ran and I both started independently, as fans of hip-hop music and nerd culture,” Nielsen says. “I began by playing guitar in punk bands in Northern California, switching to rapping in high school and in college. Mega Ran had been producing hip-hop music for years, and starting making “gamer” influenced music in the early 2000s.”
This duo has done nothing but grow together since joining forces.
“Mega Ran and I have both become better producers, rappers and performers since we have begun,” Nielsen says. “We’ve also learned to collaborate and focus more, writing about everything from our favorite books, to video games, and even telling personal stories.”
However, the album inspired by literature was no simple task; it took about three years to complete.
“We made a database of our favorite books; re-reading everything before we wrote the songs,” says Nielsen. “We decided to channel different characters and figure out the emotional tones and the guests we could invite. It we involved process that culminated in us recording in Brooklyn in the fall of 2017.”
Literature noted on the album include Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare and even Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“Poe and Shakespeare are big influences on me, both in the way they are timeless and their use of meter and rhythm,” says Nielsen. “But honestly, every author we rapped out on Dewey contains a special meaning to both Mega Ran and myself, which is why we hoped to spread the word about them to our fans.”
If there is one thing Nielsen wants his fans to understand through his work, it’s that they should read every day.
You can stream The Dewey Decibel System here.
Photo by Marianne Harris.