He's the MC who (more-or-less) brought Toonami back and made two whole rap albums about anime (one entirely about GUNDAM, no less.) Now, as the summer swells and the convention season hits a fever pitch, Otaku King Richie Branson has unveiled a new project today - - THE NERD EP. Available for purchase through all the proper channels, the record's already ranked #69 and #86 on iTunes and Amazon's respective rap sales charts.
We caught up the nerdcore superstar to chat cosplay girls, retro gaming, his impending tour and the simple secret of what makes BLEACH so appealing. Read on below.
ANIME VICE: THE NERD EP's title is actually an acronym for “Nothing Ever Requires Discipline.” Seeing as how the first single, “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis,” is about old school video games and they have a - - shall we say - - distinct learning curve, are you perhaps trying to send message about gaming here?
RICHIE BRANSON: Yeah, really I was taking a stroll down memory lane in regards to the games I used to play growing up. Games certainly are getting more advanced in terms of graphics, but the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had were during the 16 bit days.
AV: Or are you maybe just trying to issue a challenge to Pharrell?
RB: Perhaps, lol.
I feel that “Nothing Ever Requires Discipline” has a much deeper relevance to nerd culture. Nerds always get looked at as hyper-disciplined people, when in reality we’re the ones going against the rules. Society dictates that people must act and dress a certain way to be considered “cool”, nerds don’t abide by that. We do our own thing.
AV: You’ve also launched Otaku King Apparel and the first accessory on sale right now is a carved wooden NES controller necklace. What will this clothing line be offering to the more fashionable nerd as it unfolds?
RB: Yes, I have some cool people on board that will be designing some awesome accessories, shirts, and more for the fashionable nerds and geeks out there!
AV: The second single off THE NERD EP, “Bankai Like Ichigo,” is a tribute to BLEACH. I’ve never gotten much into that series, myself, but seeing as how you were inspired to write such a rad rap about Hollows and the Soul Society, maybe you could break down what I’ve been missing?
AV: Both of the tracks released so far have been collaborations. Is that going to be a theme for the rest of the album?
RB: The whole album itself is completely all me, with the collaborations being offered as bonus tracks in essence. However, me and Mega Ran have a project coming out in the near future called the “Ghouls N Ghosts EP”. Stay tuned!
AV: You’re about to embark on the Monster Hunter tour with MC Chris and Powerglove for the next couple months, bringing your style of nerdcore to around three dozen cities. How was this deadly triple alliance forged?
RB: Right around the time I released my Bring Toonami Back song; Chris reached out and offered me the opportunity of a lifetime. I said yes and here we are, on the verge of an epic 33 city tour! I just can’t wait to connect personally with every fan and supporter of my musical journey.
AV: A few of these tracks, like “Rejects”, sound rather clearly autobiographical, so I’ve got to ask about “Cosplay Girl.” Has Richie Branson romanced a living, breathing anime lady or two in real life?
RB: Not necessarily romanced, but I definitely have been to cons and had my breath taken away at the sight of a girl or two flawlessly cosplaying my favorite anime ladies.
AV: Letting your “freak flag fly” is a recurring subject in the N.E.R.D. EP. You’ve also mentioned before that naysayers often told you that you were too nerdy to get anywhere in hip hop and, obviously, they proved to not have the best grasp on the situation. When do you think it became OK to be an otaku in public?
RB: I guess that as with any other subculture, when you embrace who you are and exude self-confidence in your lifestyle, it becomes cool at that point. The confidence part is so important, that’s what makes it cool to be who you are.
AV: Lastly, the EP bookends with two songs about Toonami - - one requesting it come back, and the other celebrating its return. You rallied so many fans and, now, Toonami’s been back for a little over a month. How have you been liking this new iteration so far?
RB: So far so good, I’m enjoying DEADMAN WONDERLAND and CASSHERN SINS and can’t wait to see the filler shows replaced with more new content. The only way that will happen is if we keep watching, of course.