Mega Ran’s newest album, RNDM, dropped on Bandcamp on September 11. With an artist as prolific as Mega Ran, it can be easy to forget that before this, his last solo album was three years ago (outside of the occasional EP and remix album)
So, what’s new?
For one thing, Mega Ran has chosen to forgo the pen name “Random”, in favor of the more distinct pen name, Mega Ran. The other way that “RNDM” distinguishes itself from the discography of Mega Ran is by the fact that that it has more chip-hop tracks on the album than any of his other solo albums.
The overall feel of the album is introspective without descending into navelgazing. Mega Ran’s lyrics tell us about where he comes from, and how he got here. There is something very relatable to his songs, from the pain of not being taken seriously because of the subject matter of his raps to being told that being an artist is not a viable path.
Thematically, it almost feel like RNDM could be two seperate albums in their own right. The tale of how Raheem Jarbo went from Random to Mega ran is told in a roundabout way in these tracks:
- Same As It Ever Was, the hauntingly beautiful opening to RNDM which deals with the change to the pen name Mega Ran
- Infinite Lives, which deals with the drive to create, and living on through your art.
- Introvert Bars, a short but neat rap about rap about the choice between going out and having a Netflix & Chill session.
- The Meeting, in which the two personas, Random and Mega Ran have a lyrical conversation about staying real, and the struggles of rapping as either of the two personas
- Revisions, in which a disillusioned former teacher talks about working in a school system that at best does not care enough about its wards, and at worst actively works against them
- A Poet, which is perhaps the most beautiful track on the whole album. Mega Ran raps to his unborn child about the trials and tribulations of a struggling artist, and the heartbreak that happened to him at 19.
- The Promised Land (an allegory), which I would guess is an allegory (the title tipped me off) about Mega Ran’s career in rapping.
- Miss Communication, a groovy song about the troubles of communicating via text.
- Believe!, a song about faith and Mega Ran losing his parents. This is perhaps one of the most danceable tracks on RNDM, which I keep coming back to listening to.
- Losses, which deals with life in impoverished areas.
These above tracks are those that fit the best together on the album, both lyrically and musically. Personally, I feel that these are the tightest tracks both in terms of music and rap from Mega Ran.
The rest of the tracks fall into a more ‘classic’ nerdcore style (though not all of them are chippy):
- Rushmore, in which Mega Ran raps about some of the great nerdcore artists (MC Frontalot, MC Chris and MC Lars)
- Your Favorite Song, a catchy tune about wanting to write one of those catchy tunes that gets stuck in your head (and it does a pretty good job of it!)
- Mackerel Sky, a fast-paced track that I’d love to see performed live at a club.
- OP, a thick and dirty track about Mega Ran’s overpowered skills. It’s a more classic hiphop track flaunting Mega Ran’s skills, and has a bonus appearance by Storyville on the chorus.
- Laughin’ At Ya (That’s Crazy), The latest track off RNDM to get a music video, featuring Mega Ran in rather menacing Joker make up. Lyrically, the track fits better with the first grouping of tracks above. This particular track is my least favorite off the album – compared to the other tracks, it comes off as too busy, with a backup singer that performs well but who appears on basically every second bar of the song, which ends up being kind of distracting. It’s a pity, because the lyrics are great, and a simpler beat with a more toned back backup performance could have made this a much better track.
- Space Defense Team (Alien Swarm Part 1), is probably the single greatest collaboration on RNDM: Mega Ran, accompanied by none other than Kool Keith and Wordburglar in a track where they rap about defending the earth from an alien menace. I got a strong “Disaster” by MC Frontalot vibe from the track – but make no mistake, the track is entirely its own thing.
- Mighty! (Bonus Track), This track is a pretty great get for Mega Ran – a spot in the soundtrack for upcoming crowdfunding success, Mighty No 9, a game that follows closely in the footsteps of Mega Man. The track is about overcoming the odds, and is a great track that makes me tingle every time I hear it.
The opening lines of “Mighty!” are great, in a way that feels symbolic of RNDM:
“The mighty nature inside a tiny man
can make the hardest task routine
and the smallest spark in a mighty man
can power the impossible dream”
The TLDR on “RNDM” is this:
Go out and buy it.
It is an album filled with tight beats, great raps and fantastic collaborations. The lyrics are heartfelt, honest and relatable. There are both amazing party tracks, beautifully introspective songs and classic hiphop that transcends the nerdcore label.
Review copy of “RNDM” was provided by Mega Ran.