Random (aka Mega Ran)
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Random (aka Mega Ran)

Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Band Hip Hop Alternative

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"Forever Famicom Review on 1UP Magazine"

About 10 years ago, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien put out a track called "Proto Culture." The song served as a love letter to videogames -- well, especially the ones Del was into. Sega got a lot of love in the lyrics, with multiple Saturn and Dreamcast games being referenced. Del also proved to be a pretty savvy gamer, as he talked about import games and, even called out former Sega president Bernie Stolar. It was fresh, not too lame, and practically unheard of beforehand.

Now, imagine that track expanded into a whole album; a still-super-legit, full-length rap tribute to gaming -- well, especially the NES and Super NES -- with piles of admonishing references. You get Forever Famicom, the new album from Random (Mega Ran) and his producer cohort K-Murdock. The big difference from Del's effort is that, much like Random's Mega Ran albums, Forever Famicom samples music from the games themselves, with beats and rhymes layered over them. It's not as cut-and-dry as that, though -- the game music is often slowed down, and the added sounds are undeniably expert-level. For two guys whose recording studio was the internet, the sound here is pretty impressive.

Early tracks like "Forever" make a nice impression from the get-go, as it uses samples from EarthBound and guest vocals from Emilie Bogrand. Games you might not expect to be sampled, like Secret of Mana and Faxanadu, also show up in the tracks "Player Two" and "World Tree," respectively. But what you really have to listen to is "Epoch," a Chrono Trigger-backed track that never lets up on dropping game names and effectively outdoes what "Proto Culture" accomplished all those years ago. The only downside is that it's buried a bit too far in the tracklist, and is followed three tracks later by the thematically similar "For the Gamers," which, to be fair, is just as listenable (if you thought the bass line from the DuckTales theme song wasn't rappable, think again).

But beyond the flow, several tracks on Forever Famicom illustrate that games shaped Ran into the person he is today, much how they shaped the rest of us. "Dream Master" is an autobiographical story from Ran's childhood, recalling his childhood and how his mom got him an NES to essentially keep him off the street, and ended up shaping him into who he is now. But there are also tracks more directly based on the games themselves, like "2K10," which retells the tale of Capcom's Street Fighter 2010. Forever Famicom is essential for anyone who wants -- or doubts -- legit video game rap that isn't just a couple of lines in a Biggie Smalls track. In a world of laughable nerdcore, the best stuff just ends up looking better. In Ran's case, that's not a bad deal. - 1UP.com


"Mega Ran Review in Exclaim Magazine"

What’s more nerdy than rapping about videogames? How about a full album based on Capcom’s Mega Man? Using samples from the various incarnations of the Mega Man videogames, Random Beats and guest producers DNS, Domingo and Samik swipe a familiar selection of samples to create an eight-bit backdrop for Random’s alter ego, Mega Ran, a rapping robot with an arm cannon and a desire to battle whack robots. Within this loose concept, Mega Ran does more than just brag and boast, which he does well on “Shadowman,” a dark, tribal b-boy jam, and “Boss Battle: MetalMan,” a funk rock freak-out complete with a cheesy chorus. Mega Ran also breaks down the realities of life as a struggling rapper/videogame character on the smooth, bubbly “Bubbleman,” goes clubbing on “Mega Club,” criticises the clones of “Robot City” and even steps out of character for “Grow Up,” his ode to videogames. While “Robot City” and its remix work the concept best, the one-two punch of Mega Ran’s doomed love story is also inspired. “Aqua Soul (Robot Love)” introduces the hero, a robot who finds his princess just before heading off to war, and ends with a cliffhanger. But after the instrumental “MegaLude,” the story continues when Ran attempts to get the girl on “The Continuation.” No spoilers here, however. Not only an interesting concept, Mega Ran is also an enjoyable trip down memory lane for many. It’s even available as a free download without the three bonus tracks. (Random Beats/RAHM Nation)
- Exclaim!


"Mega Ran Review by RapReviews"

video game junkies and fellow nerds may all rush (no pun intended on Rockman's faithful dog) to the store to pick up "Mega Ran." Unfortunately while some of the melodies from Mega Man games sound fine when remixed they tend to largely fall into dance & techno categories. When producers have tried to merge Mega Man's theme with more mainstream pop hilariously bad songs are the result. This presents Random with a daunting task - pay tribute to a character and series of games he's obviously a fan of while not (A.) making a mockery of the games or (B.) driving away the underground rap following he's already cultivated. Few would dare to cross the threshold for fear of commiting career suicide, although for Random the overwhelming odds may present an eerie parallel to the Mega Man games themselves. Many's the time Mega Man has found himself outgunned and overpowered only to emerge victorious over his foes. When the odds are against him, Mega Man's iron will is stronger than ever.
Even if you don't know a damn thing about Mega Man and have no intention of playing the games ever, tracks like "Mega Club" and the Domingo laced "Rock and Roll" still work on a straight up hip-hop basis. One of the album's most pleasant surprises is "Boss Battle Metalman," which takes the original Metal Man music and gives a hard rock guitar groove befitting the stage's name; put another way it's what Timbaland's "Throw it on Me" could have been if The Hives weren't musically insipid insects. Still I'd be remiss not to note this album's very premise appeals to me, as I've gone out of my way to buy games from the series like "Rockman Strategy" that were never released in the U.S. I'm down with Samik looping the Mega Man 6 boss music for the song "Final Battle" but I can understand why anybody who hasn't played the games wouldn't appreciate it, even with the extra drums and bass added in. The bottom line is that Random manages to keep his hip-hop credentials in tact even while marrying underground battle raps to video game tracks, but this album may still be a hard sell to hardcore hip-hop heads. Random may have a little better luck with the mainstream, but that depends on just how mainstream Mega Man really is. Besides that even if Mega Man has a broad appeal it's probably more among the younger demographic than adulthood's closet nerds. I just don't see Random's album outselling Kelly Clarkson's but for hip-hop heads if you can find it in stores I encourage you to give it a try.


- Rapreviews.com


"The Call Review"

Artist: Random
Album: "The Call"
CD Review: Genre: Rap
Sounds Like: ?
Technical Grade: 9
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9
Commercial Value: 10
Overall Talent Level: 10
Songwriting Skills: 10
Performance Skill: 10
Best Songs: Still Aint Good Enough, Push, Raze The Bar, Black Out, The Opening Movement, Motivate
Weakness: None
CD Review: Random, who fittingly resides in the city of brotherly love (Philadelphia, PA) sent me an inspirational project that's camouflaged as a Rap CD. He almost had me fooled until I listened closely and discovered that he's a man with a mission and a message. In fact, he has many messages, but before he delves into any of them he want's you to know his motivation: He's sick and tired of many things including everybody talkin' bout they pack heat...tired of kids that can't comprehend, but know 50 Cent (songs) from beginning to end...sick of black women getting disrespected...and tired of going to more funerals than graduations. Those frustrations are voiced on the third track, "Raze The Bar," which is also Random's mission statement. Does he Raze The Bar? Absolutely.

If the early track, "Raze The Bar" is a jab, then "Still Aint Good Enough" is a sharp right hook. It combines lyrical content, forceful music production and prime performance skill with a thought-provoking chorus. Not only is this track radio ready and commercially viable, it's a conversation piece that centers around a myriad of social issues such as war, politics, education, career choices, and money. It's powerful!

As you sift through this project, you walk right into the knock out punch that will turn you into a Random fan. It's the track entitled "Push," which is an excellent complement to "Still Aint Good Enough." Peep the following lyrics:

Call me conscious cause I don't spit nonsense
I just give em' options, diversify the topics...
knock it if you must you wouldn't be the first one
I'm certain, got thick skin so it don't hurt none...
If I was cursin and blurtin stupidity it'd only make the situation worse and my people's is thirstin,
while demons is lurkin, it's about time somebody pull back the curtain...So I got to

(Hook)

Push...
Like a mother giving birth when it hurt
Push...
When the scene look the worst I'm the first one to
Push...
For Dr. King and push for Malcolm
Push...
The powers that be to change the outcome

Other standout tracks on this project include the funky, greasy beats of "The Opening Movement" and the jumping club track, "Black Out." Random even offers potential remedies to the problem of how black women are treated and showcases his versatility in the process on " Motivate."

Over the years I've reviewed some good and some great Rap projects, but none have been as significant as this one. He's a man who has received a calling and dares and cares enough to issue a calling to those who are receptive to it - without being preachy. Kudos to Random for having the courage to be different and having the ingenuity to present your message in a format that will connect with the very people for which it was intended. As he states, "Many are called, few a chosen." I'm glad he received The Call because he's a great messenger.

Advice: You need none. You have all the guidance you need. Keep spreading the word.
- Gian Fiero (The Muses Muse)


"Mega Ran Review"

If you're a regular reader of the site - well, then first of all, God bless you, and we love you. But secondly, it should be obvious by now that this Phillyist is a bit of a video game fan. We definitely try to keep up with the latest, cutting edge stuff as best we can, but the old NES titles still have a strong, nostalgic glow to them. Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, Metroid - all classics, and all now giant, multi-million dollar franchises. Another classic from the era that's since become quite a big franchise, but that we never really got into as much as those others, is Mega Man. The title character of this series is actually a robot created by a good and noble scientist named Dr. Light to defeat the evil robots created by his nemesis, the villainous scientist named Dr. Wily.

In recent years, many of those old video games have inspired musical tributes, usually in the form of covers/recreations of the more exciting chunks of their soundtracks. But for whatever reason, Mega Man seems to inspire a special level of devotion in musicians. Its story is the basis of at least two whole concept albums that we know of, not to mention an entire band. The band is The Protomen, and one of the albums is their self-titled first release, an amazing, earnest, epic rock opera re-telling the story of the tragic conflict between Protoman and Mega Man. But it's the other album that I want to talk about here. It's the latest release from Philly-born artist Random, and it's called Mega Ran.

Random is best known for his critically-acclaimed, very serious, very politically and spiritually aware release The Call, but Mega Ran is a much lighter piece of work, put together as a 20th anniversary tribute to Mega Man. It features many samples from the soundtrack, and is even set up like a trip through the game, starting off with an intro in which Random finds himself inserted into the story as a new version of the Mega Man character called Mega Ran. This is followed by a series of battles with Mega Man's enemies, including Shadowman, Bubbleman, Flashman, Ringman, and Metalman. There are also occasional interludes where Mega Ran finds time to visit "Robot City," and even tries to find himself some "Robot Love" - although it's hard when Dr. Light is totally hating.

Random weaves the old game music into his beats quite expertly (he produced most of the tracks on the album himself), and his lyrics are both funny and clever. He fits in a lot of geek references (and not just to Mega Man), but also manages to give the story - robots fighting robots in the future - a very cool, contemporary, real-life context. "Boss Battle Metalman" (featuring The Megas) is particularly amusing - it's funky, incredibly cheesy, and totally fun. But the best track could be "Final Battle" (featuring Loose), due to its irresistible rhythm and great tune. Other favorites of ours include the catchy "Bubbleman," the lovely, instrumental "MegaLude" (featuring Kid Overdrive), and the defiant "Mega Club" (featuring Problem Child). Then there's "Robot City," featuring YT Cracker and JonBap, and "Rock and Roll." Really it's a strong record throughout - a kind of love letter, not just to a video game, but to childhood in general. "Grow Up" closes out the album with a nostalgic look back at playing games as a kid, using the games as a metaphor for life, and revealing that Random still plays them, hasn't grown up yet, and doesn't plan to. We're with him.

- Phillyist Magazine


"The 8th Day - @@@@ 1/2"

Back in 2006, I reviewed Random’s debut album “The Call.” I remember having such a hard time deciding whether to give the album a 4-star or 4.5-star rating. A 4-star basically means an album is dope, but if I kick the rating up to 4.5 stars, that means the album is likely to remain a part of my regular rotation. Some albums, for some reason or another, just continue to get plays in the future – while others just sit on my hard drive. And back when I reviewed “The Call,” I just didn’t think I’d still be listening to it in 2008. So I gave it four stars.

Ever since, I’ve slowly come to realize that I gave Big Ran the wrong rating. After the review I found myself listening to the album more and more – and it still gets plays to this very day. So a 4.5 would’ve been the more accurate rating. My bad Ran.

This time around, I found myself in a similar dilemma. 4 or 4.5 stars? But knowing what I know now, I decided to kick it up – both because I feel I owe Random his other half-a-star, and because I’m sure “The 8th Day” will remain part of my rotation in the future.

Random’s “The 8th Day” impressed me for several reasons. First, I respect how Random continues to be himself on the mic. He raps about things he knows and things he sees, and this can be seen from all the songs on his album that reflect the thoughts and experiences of a humble and thoughtful school teacher.

Second, I like how Random continues to evolve as an emcee and an artist. From the soulful “The Call” to the nerdcore “Mega Ran” to the more futuristic and electronically-influenced “The 8th Day,” the multidimensional Random keeps switching it up on us with new styles and sounds.

And third, I like how “The 8th Day” almost perfectly blends entertainment and intelligence, using a more storytelling-based lyrical approach to keep the listener’s attention while talking about conscious shit. While most of the songs talk about topics that are common, Random puts the topics into story form to give new perspectives and viewpoints.

One good example of this technique can be found in The Hush, a song about the oft-discussed topic of snitching and it’s perception in the hip-hop community. Random lays down three verses demonstrating different viewpoints on the issue, including the following verse about a gang member who failed to protect his own brother due to his unwillingness to be seen as a snitch:

One time I heard a story ‘bout this kid named Rick/
Cali raised, born off the sunset strip/
His brother Rashawn was a Southside crip/
But he wasn’t involved with it/
Was a straight A student ‘til he fell in love with the chip/
And suddenly his grades took a dip/
A college kid – had a four year scholarship/
Papa split, now they both fatherless/
Rashawn told Rick if the coppers hit/
‘Never snitch, tell them pigs the opposite’/
He saw what happened with Vic and the pics/
Now the dude’s pinched, and they ain’t heard from him since/
One day some bloods tried to ambush Rick/
Thought they caught him at the light in his dad’s old whip/
Crazy part is Rashawn knew about the hit/
But his famous last words was ‘I ain’t no snitch’/

Another good example can be found in Granny Smith, a track that uses a story about a student-teacher relationship to comment on domestic battery, flaws in the education system, and the mind state of young people. In the following verse, Random tells the story through the eyes of a teenager and shows a great attempt to interpret a kid’s perspective:

I’m on the bus seeing sights/
The city lights turning off signifying end of the night/
And see when you’re a teen everybody thinks you think you know it all/
Never thinking once in a while you might be right/
See I told pop he probably shouldn’t bring girls home/
I knew mom would catch him one day but he said leave him alone/
I never thought about them splitting up/
It must’ve been a million times mom dukes told him to get his stuff/
But at the end of the day she would retract it/
Had a lot about but didn’t have the spine to back it/
After they fight they always give me a gift/
That’s how I got this little iPod and these brand new kicks/
Can’t wait to get to school and see Mr. Brown/
He always knows what to say when the chips is down/
I ain’t even gotta tell him I’m stressed out/
But when I’m in his class I forget what I’m stressed about/

And finally, you’ll see more of this type of lyricism on Placebo, a track criticizing the pharmaceutical empire that feeds us drugs and medicine. The following verse breaks it down from the perspective of a depressed person who begins to question the hypocrisy revolving around our country’s drug laws:

I hate what I should love, love what I should hate/
Break what I should keep, and keep what I should break/
Forget what I should know, forgot what I should learn/
I done tried nothing, but I don’t know where I should turn/
I saw this drug yesterday on TV/
And something they described sound just like me/
I cry when I’m happy, laugh when I’m depressed/
Slept for eight hours and still need more rest/
Took a pill to curb my appetite/
The side effects could make me a hermaphrodite/
But I gotta get right, ‘cause time’s a wastin’/
Waiting for the placebo trying my patience/
Need that quick fix – tisk tisk/
Doctors and corporations get rich – I just get sick/
Sell it in the car, you America’s nightmare/
Put it in Walgreens, you a millionaire/

Now what’s funny about the preceding review is that I featured three songs that weren’t even my favorites on the album. The 8th Day, New Grind, Left Behind, On The Wall and Reset Button are all heaters that deserve attention, and every song on the album is worth a listen or two. I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself. It could very well make your regular rotation for years to come. Peace. - Hip Hop Linguistics


"The 8th Day Review by RapReviews"

Random is a teacher, the kind who gives homework and grades papers and holds court in front of a classroom full of rowdy kids on a daily basis. This means he is not your stereotypical MC, bragging about cooking crack with a wrist full of ice while a stripper writhes in the background. Random is striving to make hip hop positive and meaningful. His label, Rahm Nation, proclaims itself the "Reform and Healing Movement." Beyond releases by like-minded hip hop and soul artists, they offer courses on hip hop history and essays on the art form. Clearly, they are not just in it for the money.

"The 8th Day" is Random's third album, following 2006's "The Call," 2007's Mega Man-themed "Mega Ran," and "Patches and Glue," which came out earlier this year. The concept of the album is new beginnings, and the title track imagines a world in which:

"A bunch of folks got tired of hearing rhymes that ain't true
It was time for a change, they thought
So the Committee for Lyrical Dishonesty, a Cold for short, was formed
Founded by the people with a simple mission
Rid the world of all the fiction that rappers be spittin'
They headed a department that would research rhymes
Verify the details of the crimes in their lines
Whatever they would find
They shared it with the public
And rappers would get arrested if they were discovered"

The result, in Random's imagination, is that the artists in the Top Ten would be cleared out, and Clear Channel would be forced to start playing more conscious artists.

"Fans rejoiced, radio was resurrected
Labels worldwide were starting to get the message
Magazines shifted to what would sell
So Mos Def reached the cover of the XXL
Then the source shot back with a Kweli cover
Tried to get both of them cats to beef with each other
But they held it together and hip hop was winning
But this wasn't the ending it was only the beginning"

Sure it is a fantasy, but it calls out one of the unspoken truths of hip hop: so is most so-called hardcore rap. Gangsta rap is a fantasy of life on the streets, one in which the kids in the streets get to be crime bosses and not just victims or low-level foot soldiers. Everyone wants to be Scarface, but they forget that Scarface dies in the end. What Random is dreaming of is a world in which "keeping it real" comes to mean rapping about real life, and not just bragging about how much time you've spent in prison, or how many people you've shot.

In the spirit of keeping it real, he offers "Left Behind" and "If It Weren't for Bad Luck..." about the struggles of being an underground rapper. He also comes clean about his geek tendencies on "Reset Button," which gives a shoutout to the "freaks and geeks" and nerd culture. "Exhale" is a loving tribute to hip hop with guest verses by Naledge of Kidz in the Hall. The album closes with a remix of "Fly" that reimagines the song over a jazz beat. Like most of the songs on the album, the production is crisp, solid, and better than what you might have come to expect from an independent release. This much is clear: Random is no amateur.

Sometimes Random's teacherly leanings get the best of him, and his rhymes can come off as lectures. Anti-drug song "Placebo" is old school in every sense, from its beat to its Fresh Prince style rhymes that criticize prozac, of all things. "Granny Smith" is the story of a boy from a broken home that is touching but heavy-handed. The fact that his heart is solidly in the right place makes these clumsy rhymes forgivable. He also nails cautionary tales on tracks like "Last Time," which tells a heart-wrenching tale of inner city strife and alienation, all with the chorus of "you said this was the last time/I don't believe you." "The Hush" has a banging, buzzing DN3 beat which Random uses to spin the tale of a young man tempted by the life of a drug dealer. On this track, he manages to rein in his lecturing, and instead tell a harrowing and all-too-familiar story of life on the streets.

Random can rap, and he has a clear, confident flow. When he manages to curb his teacher tendencies, he creates music that is thought-provoking and banging. He's also part of a movement in hip hop that is trying to grow the art form in positive ways, and rid it of its more self-destructive tendencies. "The 8th Day" is a solid step in the right direction, and I hope it leads to the rebirth of hip hop that Random is striving for.

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10 - Rapreviews.com


"Mega Ran 9 Review by Rapreviews"

The classic 8-bit Mega Man series never had a female boss robot until Mega Man 9, which either means gender equality came late to the year 20XX or that Dr. Light and Dr. Wily never thought robots needed a gender. No wait, that can't be true, because Mega Man has a sister robot named Roll. That's probably because the Japanese thought it was a good pun (his name in Japan is Rock... hers is Roll... ROCK AND ROLL... you can groan now) but it still suggests that female robots were - oh wait, I'M THE OTAKU ONE! You can't fault Random when this review's author knows a little too much about fictional video game robots for his own good. A target audience of hip-hop loving video game nerds may be a little bit niche, but if a sequel to Mega Man 8 done inna eight bit stylee can win minds and hearts then "Mega Ran 9" can too. There's plenty to love here from "The Opening" to "The Outro" including Storyville's sing-song Galaxy Man melody on "8 Is Enough," K-Murdock from Panacea turning a LEVEL UP into the beat for "The Bailout" and guest raps from the likes of Ciphurphace and Pugz Atmos on the Andre Jackson laced "Run N Gun." For my money though the best may be the bassline and Random rap of the 4:20 long "uKnowTheName" or where even a random punchline like "YOU DUDES GET PWN3D" tickles my funny bone. I'm happy to say Mega Ran never went anywhere and the sequel improves on the original - old school's cool. - Steve Juon


Discography

2006- The Call (RAHM Nation)
2007- Mega Ran (RAHM Nation/RandomBeats Music/Capcom Ent.)
2008- The 8th Day (RAHM Nation/RandomBeats Music)
2009- Mega Ran 9 (RAHM Nation/RandomBeats Music/Capcom Ent)
2010- Forever Famicom (Neosonic Productions)

singles:

2006 - "Push" radio play in US
2008 - "Black Box (w/MC Frontalot) radio play in US and Canada
2010 - "Dream Master" and "Epoch" streaming radio play in US and worldwide

Photos

Bio

Random, aka Mega Ran, Big Ran or Random Beats. Teacher, Rapper, Hero.

Born Raheem Jarbo in Philadelphia to a southern mother and African father, Random’s songs are filled with all of the heartache, pain, triumph, tragedy and fun that come with everyday living. A Philadelphia native and Phoenix transplant, graduate of Penn State University and middle school instructor, Random speaks to the everyman, transcending race or class barriers.”I never want anyone to predict my next move,” he says. You can, however, expect the unexpected from Random, hence the name.

After teaching himself to make beats on the MTV Music Generator software for PlayStation, Random landed a job at a Philadelphia studio as a producer and engineer. During downtime, he would create his first demo tape. This led to Random signing with indie label RAHM Nation Recordings and releasing his debut album, The Call in 2006.

The Call, a very political and spiritually charged album, went on to rave reviews and critical acclaim. The video for its single “Push” went on to be nominated for an Australian independent short film award. The Call is now being utilized in university coursework in several colleges in the US.

Random made waves by going way left of his backpack roots when he released “Mega Ran” in 2007. It was an album completely comprised of sampled 8-bit beats from the hit video game series “Mega Man.” The album (and its follow up, Mega Ran 9) virtually exploded after video game corporation CAPCOM offered Random a special licensing agreement, and calling on Ran to perform at Comic-Con and other special events.

In 2009, Random signed a deal with Japanese record label River City Records and released RANDOMONIUM, a collection of previously released material.

In 2010, Random collaborated with critically acclaimed producer K-Murdock to release FOREVER FAMICOM, a conceptual album paying homage to the 8-Bit NES and 16-Bit Super NES video game consoles.

Today, Random teaches middle school in Phoenix, AZ, and continues to travel and perform at gaming, hip hop and comic events all over the world. Random’s music has managed game and movie soundtrack placements and press coverage in Wired Magazine, The Phoenix New Times, URB Magazine, Game Developer, Nintendo Power, Blender, and more.

Something new… something different…this is the Random Experience.