Album Review: Random – Mega Ran 9 (2009)
Rating: 3 out of 5 Potholes
At first glance, Raheem “Random” Jarbo’s efforts in the Mega Ran series seem gimmicky. I mean, it is a guy rapping from the perspective of a video game character. But once you hear what he has to say along with his chiptune beats, you will realize that this is no gimmick. It’s simply a guy who isn’t afraid to blend his two loves, hip-hop and his NES, together. And it certainly helps that he does so with ease and skill.
The rapper-producer instantly sets the pace on Mega Ran 9 by picking up where its predecessor “left off with [him] broken hearted.” With handclaps and deep bass from producer DN3 filling the air, Random begins weaving another fantastic tale that combines love, braggadocio, and adventure across a dozen tracks. And he does it with plenty of help from emcees and producers alike, including Storyville and Panacea’s K-Murdock, with the latter crafting the solid “The Bailout”.
While Random’s storytelling on here succeeds, it’s his battle raps that truly standout. In particular there are “UKnowTheName” and “Endless”, two of the album’s instant standouts. Both feature stellar beats from DN3 and Samik, respectively, and plenty of fiery verbal darts. Of the pair, “Endless” remains the most repeat-worthy based on the two emcees switching their flows for speed-demon deliveries that prove these guys are no joke. The only weak spot in this shit-talking bunch is “Run N Gun,” which is weighed down by Ciphurphace’s awkward flow. Luckily Ran and Pugz Atoms pick up the pace, but Ciphur’s introduction is enough to make you skip the rest.
But as previously mentioned, he can also hold your attention while telling a story. In particular, there is the heart-breaking “Splash Woman”, during which Random falls in love with his robotic enemy, who he must ultimately defeat. It’s a clever take on the concept of two people wanting to make a relationship work that, for whatever reason, cannot. Even more gratifying is Shadix’s fantastic acoustic remix of the track that nicely incorporates live drums and guitar.
As solid as those tracks are, they are nearly balanced by average counterparts. “Eight Is Enough” does little to hold you attention and “Boss Battle: Jewel Man” is too sloppy, even if Ran’s intentions are good. But these middling affairs remain a distant memory once Mega Ran 9 reaches its conclusion and you find yourself playing the album again. Although it’s unclear whether or not Ran will take on another Mega effort, there are plenty of people, from fans to critics, hoping for a sequel.