Almost by accident, Jarboe caught the attention of the nerdcore scene in 2007 when he recorded and released Mega Ran, a concept album inspired by Mega Man which extensively features samples from the original NES games. The album was praised by nerdcore fans and quickly embraced by an unexpected source.

Instead of taking legal action, Capcom executives provided a new outlet for Jarboe's enthusiasm for gaming by sponsoring him and supporting an eventual follow-up album titled Mega Ran 9. It was a move that brought surprise and relief to the rapper. "Capcom was extremely awesome to get behind the project and not just shut me down," he says, adding that it was an honor to be recognized by the company that made so many of his favorite childhood videogames.

Original Gamer

For MC Frontalot, aka Damian Hess, videogames have a multifaceted influence on his creative output: There's the musical aesthetics of gaming, and then there's his love for the games themselves. "If you hear an old Nintendo or Sega synth line, it is immediately recognizable as a videogame-related piece of music. A lot of nerdcore rappers have used that to their advantage," he says. "Then there's being a gamer, which finds its way into my lyrics, becoming the subject of entire songs and filling nooks and crannies in songs on unrelated subjects. It's like talking about my glasses. They're always on my face. Can't avoid thinking about them."


A popular Frontalot track, "It Is Pitch Dark," weaves a humorous story of gaming-induced paranoia revolving around classic Infocom text adventure games. The catchy chorus nods at Zork in particular ("You are likely to be eaten by a Grue / If this predicament seems particularly cruel / Consider who's fault it could be / Not a torch or a match in your inventory").

From the start, many of Frontalot's fans and listeners have been gamers, he says. Since his music hasn't been on MTV or commercial radio, almost everyone who's heard it found it on the internet - including the folks over at the popular gaming webcomic Penny Arcade, who dubbed MC Frontalot their official "rapper laureate" in 2002 after he completed the "Penny Arcade Theme" song. Shortly after, an in-person meeting over rounds of Mario Golf at writer/co-creator Jerry Holkins' house led to an invitation for Hess to perform at the very first PAX convention, where he's been a mainstay every year since. Another Penny Arcade-inspired song, "Final Boss," appeared during the end credits of the first episode of On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, and the rapper continues to collaborate with the webcomic's creators. He dreams of one day getting drawn into the strip but isn't holding his breath.

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