Welcome to part four of Music & Anime: A Relationship Editorial, where we explore various connections between the two mediums. You can find the other parts of this Music & Anime editorial here:
- Part 1 here where we take a look at the soundtracks of Blood Blockade Battlefront and The Boy and The Beast
- Part 2 where we explore Yoko Kanno’s legacy as an influential composer
- Part 3 where we interviewed the Funimation staff in charge of the music of our trailers
In this part, we have an email chat with three Nerdcore hip-hop artists that use anime as a main inspiration in their music. Nerdcore is a subgenre of the hip-hop genre that focuses on “nerdy” subjects like video games, Internet culture, comics, and more. Anime is still a newer subject within Nerdcore, but more artists are using it within their music to create mindblowing music. In this piece, we interviewed artists TekForce, Ish1da, and Mega Ran.Disclaimer: some songs are NSFW
Godswill Ugwa (GU)- Who are you, what do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
I’m TekForce, and I’m a father, a boyfriend and an emcee. I’ve done Hip-Hop for over 10 years, and I rap about the things I love including Video Games, Anime,movies…. basically anything that’s influenced me growing up till now.
So my name is Ish1da, I’m a nerdcore rapper from Kansas City, MO. I like to combine my favorite art forms, Anime & Hip-Hop, as much as possible. I’ve been rapping a long time, I wrote my first rap in 1996, when I was in the fourth grade although I didn’t start taking it more seriously until 2006 and I began focusing more on the “Nerdcore” subgenre around 2014 after writing what is still one of my favorite tracks I’ve done, Samurai Champloo.
Mega Ran, teacher, rapper, hero. I make music, and teach, through all the things I grew up loving, comics, cartoons and video games; and have fun doing it. I’ve been at it professionally since 2006.
GU- What inspired you to rap about the subject matter that you do? How was the sentiment when you started?
Well when I originally started emceeing, I would sprinkle little references to video games, anime, but kept it pretty traditionally hip-hop. It wasn’t until a few years ago, I heard several emcees that are in a genre called Nerdcore. The more I listened, the more I knew that these guys were talking about the same thing I did and had the same experiences as me. I knew I HAD to do it, and the first song I wrote involving video games was “Level Up”, and the hook is actually the Konami Code from Contra. It came natural to me, and really wasn’t a stretch, because in the end it’s all hip-hop.
Server Crash pt 1
I always wanted to rap on beats using samples from anime and video games although not necessarily about those things but a few years ago I got my hands on a beat KV Anime made using Shiki no Uta, the Samurai Champloo ending theme and wrote the song “Samurai Champloo” which ended up being one of my favorite songs I had ever done and still is. At that time the number of nerdy references increased quite a bit in my music and I started looking more into the nerdcore community and making more songs of that nature. A lot of people don’t really get it but in all honesty I didn’t really start getting love for real in music until I started doing those kinds of songs. I’ve also experienced the most growth as an artist since then, as I don’t worry as much anymore about what I SHOULD be rapping about as compared to what I WANT to rap about
Mega Ran –
I took a long self-imposed hiatus from music – and then it was video games, cartoons and comics that got me back creating again. I was re-invigorated, seeing all the creativity that went into all these creations, showed me that I could take a little bit of that back with me into hip-hop.
It was tough at first. I had a lot of pushback from “real” hip hop guys who told me this would be looked at as a joke. I got a little scared, but any major move should scare you a bit. But I didn’t let it discourage me, luckily.
GU – What are the main tenets that you get from anime? Do you weave an anime’s story into your music or do you utilize mainly the beats? How would you convince more people to watch anime?
Good Question! Well I feel like I’ve watched anime for so long, it’s taught me A LOT of things. Mostly, how to broaden my imagination and see things from different perspectives. Anime is a storytelling medium just as much as any live-action film is. The reason that it has grown so exponentially over these years is because it transcends culture. We’re talking about something that’s inherently Japanese in nature, but because of the strength of the core story, it’s reaching people internationally. Production values can go up, but if the core of the tale sucks…you won’t care about it.
When I write about an anime, I don’t necessarily have to use a beat with the specific anime being sampled in it. To me it’s mostly about if the beat fits the feel of the song. For instance my track SDF-1, was produced by the homie Rukunetsu. It actually uses a sample from the original Macross series, but it helps to carry the story along with the fantastic beat he put together. Another example is my dude, Beatnerd Hub, and he produced my track called, “Spirit Bomb”, dedicated to Dragon Ball Z. The song itself sounds like a church choir is on it, and it’s REALLY soulful. It’s different than what you would normally associate with a song about DBZ, and I think that’s a good thing.
Well the cool thing in this day and age is that EVERYBODY is being exposed to anime in some form. It was harder to explain when I was a kid, anything that wasn’t Speed Racer, or Captain Harlock. But now everywhere you look, there’s anime. But to anyone new to it, I’d first want to see what movies they like, and then tell them what to watch based on that.
Man, I like this question haha. I feel like anime teaches a lot of things that I find important in my life, loyalty, the value of friendship, trying your hardest and never giving up.These are especially prevalent in Shonen anime which a lot of my intro to anime were. I think this is why a lot of people you might not expect to like anime get into it, because it echos alot of things we pick up growing up in poorer communities.
I use the samples almost constantly, before I was as interested in rapping ABOUT anime I always was hearing stuff in tha soundtrakcs I thought would make great beats. For example, I just got the J2: Jubei-Chan The Ninja Girl opening sampled, a song I been wanting sampled for like 15 years now lol. But I often times will play the stories into my music as well. I think the best example of this is the song Fire Fist Ace that I just did recently for the Nerdcore Absolution 3 tape. In it, I took Fire Fist Ace’s story and mine and made a song that is about me and him simultaneously. I also often reference anime when I am just rapping freeverse. “Kansas City Kami, I write it then I kill it like my last name is Yagami”.
Check out this mixtape which has TekForce, Ish1da, and more here!
I don’t really have a set plan to create otaku but I am always paying attention to what my friends like and since tha majority of what I watch is anime I will often suggest one based on their interests. “Oh you like fantasy stuff, you should check out Record of Lodoss War.” I also suggest movies to people a lot of times since many of them are more accessible to non-anime fans. I don’t really see how you could be a big fan of Disney and not enjoy a Miyazaki flick and the Satoshi Kon movies are masterpieces. I think almost anyone who gave Perfect Blue or Paprika a chance would enjoy them. On that note, if anyone says they like Inception I immediately tell them to watch Paprika lol.
One last note on that last question is that I have had a few people tell me that my music convinced them to give anime a chance, which is awesome to me. This happened in a way just a couple days ago, the person that time watched anime but they told me that Fire Fist Ace convinced them to finally give One Piece a chance.
Mega Ran –
Great question. I feel like with anime, I draw so much more from story elements than direct music stuff. The basic tenets of anime, much like comics and many other things I’m drawn to, usually centers around an unlikely hero, pulled into a world and a quest that seems way too massive for them to handle, yet they somehow overcome it, thanks to awesome friends and overpowering will to succeed. That’s the basis of my music career. Plenty of specific story elements are in my songs, astute listeners can probably pick those out.
I think the best way to convince someone to watch more anime would be to tell them, straight up, if you like this music, the only reason I’m able to produce this is because of the influence of anime on me. So, you surely love anime.
His bars filled with ki will blow you away
GU – What is your favorite game and anime? What was your first anime that you were like “this is anime”? Also what inspires you to infuse “nerd” content into your music?
My favorite anime of all time? Probably at tie between the original Macross/Robotech and Ah! My Goddess. Robotech was one of the first anime released in America in the mid 80’s. I watched it everyday I came home from school. The interesting thing about it, was that it had realistic themes like war, love and death. There was nothing else in TV that didn’t sugar coat its storylines for kids. Ah! My Goddess, well Belldandy and Urd….what’s not to love!!
Gamewise….you gotta ask me which system lol. But one that sticks in mind is Chrono Trigger. Just a phenomenal, game experience and one I’ve always remembered. Final Fantasy VII too. I guess I’ve always been a nerd my whole life so, I’ve always wanted to talk about the things I love. I figured there were people out there that either loved what I loved or found out through me. Turns out since I’ve done this music, I was right.
My favorite video games are the Metal Gear Solid series, I’m a huge fan of Hideo Kojimas storytelling. My favorite anime is Trigun, which is also the first one I saw that wasn’t airing on Television (at that time anyway) and kinda opened up the door to me getting deeper into the culture.
Snake? SNAKE?! Oh it’s ok…
If I had to choose an exact moment when I went from a normal nerd to an otaku it would be in 6th grade when I bought an Animerica magazine because Pokemon was on the cover, I read about Trigun and Tenchi Muyo and after that point it was on lol.
As for the infusing of nerd content it’s just kind of always been part of what I do, even in school when I had to write a short story for creative writing I used a lot of references to anime and video games in it.
Mega Ran –
My favorite game of all time? Probably Final Fantasy 7.
My first favorite Anime was Robotech. I got so immersed in the characters lives and stories, in both of those, that I didn’t even want to do anything else. they’re what showed me the true potential of media and visual arts in creating a massive, immersive world. I always wanted to do that with my music, so that’s where it came from I think.
GU – Finally where can fans find your work?
A lot of my non-album music is on soundcloud.com/tekforcerises as well.
People can find most of my music streaming free at soundcloud.com/ish1da, I also got some projects at ish1da.bandcamp.com, but they can also look me up on Spotify, Amazon Music and YouTube, as well as iTunes.
Mega Ran –