There’s a decent chance that if you heard the phrase “two hands up” you might’ve been at a concert having a good time. Or maybe if you’re religious, you’d throw your hands up while feeling the holy spirit inside you. In our current moment, however, it’s hard to separate the phrase from its more sinister connotation pertaining to police brutality. That’s part of why it’s become one of the main chants for protesters on the streets fighting for social justice.
“It blows my mind that these are the things that we have to continue to keep fighting for,” Mega Ran, Phoenix-based “nerdcore” hip-hop artist, tells BTRtoday.
Ran, a former middle school teacher, is now using his music to help aid the movement. During the music industry #blackouttuesday, he decided it was not a time to be silent. He started playing music with the intention of raising around $1,000 for The Bail Fund Project within a few hours. To his surprise and delight, Ran met his goal within 20 minutes and eventually surpassed $15,000.
“My friends in the music industry felt like, ‘well this is a day off [to] think about things’ and I never thought of that as being a way to make solutions happen,” he says. “It feels good to be good… My heart is with people that are on the frontlines and [who are] really out there walking the talk and I wanted to do what I could to help out and to educate.” Ran says he has friends and fans asking him how they can help with the movement and he tells them to do what they can for the people already on the frontlines.
Mega Ran & Young RJ, “Pressure”
2 Hands Up, though written months before the George Floyd protests erupted, still reflects the goals and mission of Black Lives Matter.
For the album, Ran partnered with Young RJ, Detroit-based rapper and member of hip-hop group Slum Village, to create an album soaked with themes of civil rights. 2 Hands Up was released on May 15 via Ne’Astra Music. The raps convey brutal honesty alongside meticulous instrumentation and strategically formulated beats. With over half a dozen featured artists, each track creates a constantly evolving musical and emotional environment. The dystopian futuristic intro track “2050” features L.A. Salami and Abstract Orchestra, while the stories of injustices told in “Black Is Beautiful” featuring Eric Roberson and Daru Jones recite morals of hope and change. By the end of the album, which finishes with the autobiographical track “Hip Hop Raised Me” and gives praise to the genre, it’s clear 2 Hands Up is on a path all of its own entering a new, advanced, and adventurous realm of hip-hop.
“[Hip-hop] is a lifestyle, I was raised in it,” Young RJ says. “I know nothing but Hip hop.”
Listen to the entire interview with Mega Ran and Young RJ along with 2 Hands Up in its entirety on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup.