We knew Kadesh Flow was a nerd at heart when he made his grand entrance at Brass and Boujee last month to the theme from Zelda. Now, he’s got the bars to prove his dedication to the culture. More formally known as Ryan Davis, the rapper just released the Room Service EP, and it’s his most personal work yet. Recorded in a hotel room between his music sets at a video game festival, the EP tackles everything from his resentment for New Year’s Eve resolutions (on “Resolutions”) to a lack of people of color in “nerdy” spaces (“Room Service” and “Glassy Eyes”).

Kadesh Flow at Brass & Boujee / Photo by Fally Afani

The jack-of-all-trades (have you, like, even seen his jazz trombone skills?) wrote the songs on Room Service between sets at MAGfest (Music and Gaming Festival) a couple of years ago. That’s where Mega Ran brought Davis out to play to thousands of fans. “Playing that one show got me booked at two of the biggest Anime conventions in the US. I’ve been riding that wave and trying to build from what’s come from it ever since,” he says, noting how the festival brings both music and gaming fans together in the same room. “Before a few years ago, they never had rappers. It was usually composers of huge video games (i.e. Final Fantasy) with orchestras, and a few video game rock bands. I’ve had the privilege of main-staging it myself last year and supporting my big sis Shubzilla on trombone this year.”

Getting past the Gates

One of the issues he’s seen tackled at events like MAGfest is hip-hop and video games, and the representation issues in nerd culture. “Nerdy spaces, historically, have been very white and very anti-hip-hop. It’s like people who want to build a safe space for nerds start gatekeeping what sort of nerds get in. Mega Ran was really huge in breaking some of these walls down and finding people— such as myself, Sammus, EyeQ, Shubzilla— who were already doing good work, and inviting us to hit these cons with him,” says Davis. “Nerdocre felt kind of ‘anti-hip-hop’ to me when I first listened to it. With the exception of a few people– such as MC Frontalot, Schaffer the Darklord, and MC Chris, Beefy, and a few others— a lot of nerd core rap felt like guys who weren’t into the rawness and cultural relevance of hip-hop, but who liked 90’s rap, were rapping about tech and sci-fi and what not.” Davis elaborates that he didn’t feel confident that he’d be accepted in the nerdcore community until he entered a competition with producer Richie Branson. “Mega Ran’s ascendance was a big tipping point for me because he’s a Philly cat who’s actually a hip-hop guy, but who raps about games,” says Davis. “He pulled us into the Nerdy People of Color collective partially because of that.”

Creative Control

On a couple of tracks (“Basics” and “Progression”), listeners can start to understand the amount of work it took Davis to get his career rolling to the point where he could tackle nerdcore culture full time. He quit his jobs to focus all his attention on his music, and the dedication paid off. “I cannot function this earth without doing music,” he admits. “I’d like to make that sustainable— which, for the most part, I have– then, make it abundant (working on that), all while making positive impacts on peoples’ lives through my creativity. I think it’s why I’m alive, so I’m trying to make that my reality.” Staying away from traditional ways of working in the music business, like the 360 deal, gave him more creative control. “I’ve built an online following because I released a track every week for six months while in grad school. I’m booking shows seriously and people are starting to book me and fly me out to play at their stuff. Then I show up and people are actually coming out to see me, listen to my music, buy my stuff, in a city that I’ve never set foot in before. Experiencing that kind of solidified it for me.”

Davis’ live shows are enthralling, thanks to the infectious enthusiasm he’s perfected onstage. A string of live shows, plus at least one full-length release this year, will likely be turning heads in Kansas City and across the nation. You can see him play with the Phantastics at the Bottleneck on Saturday after the Final Four. Until then, his album is available for streaming below: