When I was in middle school the class was struggling with geography test scores. My teacher put on his creative instructing hat and made a study guide to the tune of “Rapper’s Delight” and our test scores went from last to first place in the county. That might be kind of irrelevant to Random AKA Mega Ran AKA Raheem Jarbo other than the superficial connection of a teacher rapping, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I hear his music. Unlike my middle school geography teacher, Random is actually a skilled rapper capable of producing consistently interesting and engaging hip-hop.
Language Arts: Volume One is the first installment of a series of conceptually linked albums from Random profiling his life and times as a self-proclaimed teacher/rapper/hero. In the past he has garnered attention for his video game themed music, but here he has dropped those guises, leaving only the similarity of a storyline to bring things together. He details the story of the everyday man, struggling with lesson plans, driving a black Kia, and most importantly trying to keep his students from skipping class to play video games. It might not be the most captivating story, but it’s refreshing in its straightforward honesty.
His execution of this story doesn’t hurt either. The short 10-track listen (one extra remix) is backed by in-house production from Random, proving he’s equally talented on the mic as he is behind the boards. From the bouncing double-time flow on “Wake Up!” to the blissful throwback vibes of “The Constant” there is no shortage of creative ideas. There aren’t any true standouts, but similarly no serious missteps to drag things down.
As the album concludes we are given the final piece of the story, a cliffhanger of sorts, where Mr. Jarbo must rescue his kids from skipping class or face the consequences. Maybe he will be as successful as my old geography teacher, maybe not. Regardless, his consistency has proved that it will most likely be worth at least a few listens. Language Arts: Volume One is a glimpse of a passionate rapper who continues to create quality music within his niche, serving as an appropriate introduction for new listeners as well as fitting place in his catalog for long time fans.