Monsters! Mazes! Murder hobos and minotaurs! ATL/LA nerdcore duo Epic Levels’ debut album Armor Classy (out May 1) meets at the inspired intersection of hip hop and Dungeons and Dragons. The lyrics of the two MCs, Dragon Warrior and Tiger Wizard, are punctuated with clever role-playing game (RPG) wordplay for those in the know, yet they invite the casual listener to have fun exploring their astonishing sonic universe. They breathe life into eclectic topics such as stealing the dank stank off of a dapper minotaur and a mad chef’s quest for the perfect leviathan calamari. Members of Epic Levels have shared bills with Washed Out, Arrested Development, Belle and Sebastian, Amanda Palmer, Hospitality, Pile, and Single Mothers.
Epic Levels is Dragon Warrior, AKA Steve Albertson (SP’s, illiterates, SEX BBQ, Dr. Killbot), Tiger Wizard, AKA Andrew Bellury (Lille, Mortal Komband, Spacewalker) and with the guiding hand of the enigmatic World Engineer, DJ Robbie Darko, AKA Rob Bellury (Lille, Little Horn, SEX BBQ). Armor Classy was mixed by Cody Sciara (Wale, Curren$y, August Alsina), mastered by Rob Kleiner (Cee-Lo, Sia, Flo Rida, Deadpool OST), and the beats were crafted by DJ Robby Darko, and SoundCloud phenom Inner Resting, AKA Mason Grant.
Obsessive tabletop gamers Albertson and Bellury have spent their lives exploring the dark arts of nerdom. Steve is a writer, musician, and filmmaker. He’s been fronting bands for decades, always bringing his nerd empowerment lyrics front and center. He’s held many titles: a co-creator and writer of the Image Comics mini-series Ghost Spy, host of the podcast Total Movie Recall, host of ArtSpeak on Atlanta’s WMLB AM 1690, “The Voice of the Arts,” has directed/produced shorts films, music videos and documentaries, founder of Baby Robot Media and Baby Robot Records, and continues to sing in his current garage/punk/psych bands, SP’s and illiterates.
Andrew is an artist, graphic designer, and a major cog in the Atlanta art scene. He’s on the board of several galleries and owns and operates Fallen Arrows, an artist based tee shirt print shop which produces a variety of rad nerd swag. He’s a member of the Esoteric Order of the Owlbear, an organization dedicated to growing the D&D community in Atlanta, and participates regularly in the ATL DND: Drunks and Dragons events. He is the founder of the ATL Sorcery & Wizarding League, the creator of Wizard Cat Hats, Esoteric Tiger, and Dragon Spittle: homestyle spicy tequila.
The group offers this in the way of the group’s mythology:
Dragon Warrior and Tiger Wizard started as first-level adventurers in the Forgotten Elms, a realm of might and magic. They quickly raised in level, dominating any challenges that came their way. However, no matter their accomplishments, they felt like there was something missing until they discovered the City of Doors, an extra-dimensional hub to all the lands of the multiverse. It was there that they found the portal to Earth.
Through their many Earthly adventures, they found hip hop and quickly fell in love with the form. They honed their abilities, formed a rap duo, and escalated to the epic level of 20. They were then visited by the enigmatic DJ Robby Darko, The World Creator. He began working with the duo, engineering and beat making, and was so impressed that he bequeathed to them their own plane of existence. They named that realm Epicia and began shaping it in their own image.
Epicia began much like the Forgotten Elms with fantastical beasts, exotic races, and readily available magic, but swayed quickly to encapsulate Earth’s hip hop culture. Liches got “lean” on strange drugs, Goblins began bankrolling rappers and curating museums, ninjas became more “zef.”
Now, Epic Levels splits their time between Earth and Epicia, recording albums and writing books for the people of Earth, and creating new levels of adventure in the multi-faceted realm of Epicia.
Today, Ghettoblaster has the pleasure of premiering a stream of the LP, which is a banger that recalls Deltron 3030, Open Mike Eagle, MegaRan with hints of Fresh Prince, and shouts out to Castle Ravenloft, The Rolling Stones has a lyrical nod to Eazy-E, etc. This one will have you rollin’ those D20s.