Random, aka Mega Ran, is one of my all time favorite nerdcore rapper. He first came to people’s attention with his release of Mega Ran in 2007, a concept album using remixed music from the first eight Mega Man games. Capcom, having heard about it, gave him a special license agreement to use the music and took him to San Diego Comic Con with them. He later released Mega Ran 9 and Mega Ran 10. Other albums include: Forever Famicon, a NES classics tribute and Black Materia, an album based on Final Fantasy VII. His music has been heard in television, movies, video games, and university courses in several colleges. He has toured the US, UK, and even Japan.
While becoming the rap star he is today, Random’s day job was a middle school teacher. He left that job last year, but his time as a teacher help inspire his latest music project “Language Arts.” It is a multi-part album/comic book/computer game deal, initial funded through Kickstarter. Part 1 tells the story of Random as a teacher who is a part time rapper whose kids become obsessed with a new violent video game (Killcount) and they start skipping classes and letting their grades drop. He is told that if his kids do not start showing up and getting better grades, he will be fired. That is where album one leaves off.
Random released Language Arts Part 2 recently and I got an early sneak peek to listen over. The story for this one is that while Random deals with his job being in jeopardy only to find out he has a new problem. Another local rapper, Z-Dub, has challenged Random to a rapping contest to . Things at school still are not going his way, but he marshals on. He discovers that the kids playing Killcount are not committing crimes and creating chaos. Random also falls for a girl and they start dating only to have her leave him for feeling neglected. At first Random is happy about his renewed “freedom” but is convinced by his friend to get her back. When he goes to see he discovers she has been kidnapped by Z-Dub. All this in ten tracks.
This album helps illustrate why I feel Random is one of the top nerdcore acts around. The content of the songs are not really what you call nerdy, there are plenty of references but the songs themselves are not about a “nerd topic,” but they are well done and get you into them. Basically what I am saying is I do not just listen to Random cause he raps about video games, but cause I like how he raps. Each song hooks you and will have you jamming to the beat. You can also follow the story they tell fairly well and each one feels different giving you a selection Random’s range.
On the first ablum, there was a song called Buggin (The Metamorphosis) about Franz Kafka’s story “The Metamorphosis.” (You can find the music video for it here.) This time he pays tribute to Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” in the song “Me & Mouse.” They are both are pretty straight forward simply telling the stories in rap form. Which is something that I find to be a great way to get people interested in those stories. The song also features MC Lars handling a few verses in the song, which makes sense since he is a literary influenced rapper himself.
Another track I want to highlight is “Hip-Hop Chick” in which Random’s love interest is introduced. It is what you will not here from most mainstream rappers, a song that is respectful to women. It is one of the things I like about nerdcore.
Other guests on the album are Chaundon, Mela Machinko, Homeboy Sandman, ZeeDubb (as Z-Dub), Wordsworth, and Sammus. Anime and video game voice actor Kyle Hebert serves as the narrator introducing the album and the conclusion. The beats were mixed by DJ DN3 and mastered by K-Murdock, both having worked with Random on various albums.
There is also a bonus track called “Super Move” that is only available from downloading the album from iTunes. If the albums does well enough to get ranked, Random promises to do something special for all his fans. The song is not really part of the story of Language Arts but is Random with Has-Lo, Open Mike Eagle, and Zilla Rocca doing a great video game inspired track. Worth getting.
This album is a must have for any Random fan and if you are not already a fan this would be a good place to start off with.
The next volume comes out November 20th. See you then.