Two groups have been announced to be guests at the annual Otakon Matsuri held on the Thursday before the convention. To start, Drake McWhorter (better known as Trailer Drake or Comic Drake) is the creator of the hit shows Crossover and Smash History on the Game Theorists channel. You might also recognize him from his work at ScrewAttack.com, where he helped produce the SideScrollers podcast, the daily news show Hard News or that one time he ate a half gallon of ice cream in seven minutes. On a personal level, he used to run a popular show called Unpopular Gaming Opinions and currently produces the insanely entertaining, but informative Comic Drake channel, where he presents everything you’d ever want to know (and more) about comic books.
McWhorter is a friend of Otakon, known as an anime fanatic, a snappy dresser, a connoisseur of all things geeky, a master of useless trivia, and an all-around funny guy. If you see him around the convention, he invites you to ask for a butterfly handshake.
Members of the NPC Collective, a group combining the musical and artistic talents of people of color, will also be at the Matsuri and performing for the Otakon crowd. The foundations of NPC (“Nerdy People of Color”) Collective were explained by Raheem “Mega Ran” Jarbo, who says, “Much like [a video game] NPC [non-player character], people of color who desire to create music or art or think differently than their counterparts often are discouraged, and forced to keep those thoughts and ideas to themselves, and to play the background.”
He got the idea of creating a collective of like-minded creatives who enjoyed “nerdy things” and had faced teasing or worse as a result: “This kind of creativity is often teased and stifled by bullies, and even friends and family. I want to have a group of people that those kids can look at and say, ‘Hey, if THEY can do it, I can do it.’ Be proud of who and what you are, and remember you’re not alone.”
Today, the NPC Collective includes rappers, educators, students, athletes, and even a WWE superstar amongst the ranks.
Rapper, producer, and trombonist Ryan “Kadesh Flow” Davis has been wowing both suspecting and unsuspecting listeners with his musical versatility since his early teens. At age 11, ‘Desh, as many of his listeners call him, began rapping and playing trombone within two weeks of one another.
Kadesh Flow brings realism, consciousness, and nerd life together in riveting flow format. He has composed original music for Toonami Asia, performed live at the Cannes Film Festival, and shared the stage with the likes of I Fight Dragons, The Revivalists, B.o.B., mc chris, MC Frontalot, and others. He has been publicly lauded by outlets such as IGN and Kotaku. 1UP is a Business Process Enginerd, as he describes it, or as a “manchild who is told by his friends and bosses that he is 50% art and 50% science.” 1UP (Emmanuel Kwame Aouad) graduated from Wabash College in 2010 with an economics degree with a minor in music.
During the day he dwells in an office in any location of the country (depending on which project he’s assigned to) as a Six Sigma Green Belt working on designing/redesigning new and old business critical processes. At night, he becomes the hero that the world doesn’t want or need: 1UP, a musician mixing hiphop, video games, anime, economics, jazz and more.
Eye.Q. of MusI.Q. from the Heart stresses the importance of making music from the soul and accepting yourself as an individual. “Even though Nerdcore is the basis of what we focus on, ‘Nerdcore Music,’ by our definition, is music that is made about things that these artists are passionate about. MusI.Q. that is made from love of a subject. The common misconception is that this tends to be thought of as only nerdy subjects. A Nerdcore artist is simply an artist who is so passionate about their music and whatever they love that they don’t care for social acceptance, just love of the music and the subject matter.”
The Otakon Matsuri is an outdoor street festival that will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, August 11 at Baltimore’s beautiful West Shore Park at the Inner Harbor. Admission is free to both the Otakorp membership as well as to the general public. The event features many attractions to keep attendees well-occupied: games, contests, prizes, live entertainment, great food, and even Otakon guests, who have been known to stop by and take part in the festivities.
Otakon 2016 will be held August 12-14 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD.
Now entering its twenty-third year, Otakon is an annual celebration of Japanese and East Asian popular culture, and also one of the largest gatherings of fans in the United States. Otakon celebrates popular culture as a gateway to deeper understanding of Asian culture, and has grown along with the enthusiasm for anime, manga, video games, and music from the Far East. Since 1999, Otakon has been held in Baltimore, Maryland; currently, Otakon is one of Baltimore’s few large, city-wide events, drawing over 34,000 people for three days each year (for a paid attendance of over 100,000 turnstile attendees). Otakon is a membership based convention sponsored by Otakorp, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based, 501(c)3 educational non-profit whose mission is to promote the appreciation of Asian culture, primarily through its media and entertainment. Otakorp, Inc. is directed by an all-volunteer, unpaid staff – we are run by fans, for fans.
For more information about Otakorp, Inc., see their website. For more information and the latest news on Otakon 2015, see their official website.