So..... while those that know me know that I am a visual artist and designer more than i am a reviewer in any way, it makes sense to me that when something truly special comes along that influences your own career, that you should look at it in detail .... which is what I've decided to do here, with my own review of Mega Ran's latest album, RNDM.
I first heard of Mega Ran's music several years back, not long after he released his Final Fantasy VII Tribute album, Black Materia (like a lot of other people), and found his style of merging solid Hip Hop with games that had influenced me, both exciting and a refreshing change of pace. Fast forward a bit further to roughly just over a year ago, and I find myself faced with an opportunity to create tour posters for this guy who was fast becoming one of the most exciting names in hip hop to me..... which i jumped at, obviously. Several awesome projects later, I was informed that he wanted me to work on the artwork for his next big album concept.... at this time titled 'Wouldn't Miss It For The World'. This, is the album which I shall be looking at today..... RNDM.
For those that aren't aware, Mega Ran is a Hip Hop artist who went by the name Random during his early days. After the release of his debut album 'The Call' around 8 years ago wasn't as well received (as it deserved in my opinion), it took Ran to return to his childhood and nerdier roots in video games to reignite the passion and take his music in another direction, which would lead to his 'Mega Ran' persona that would become the focus of his career going forward.
With RNDM, you really get the sense that this has been a long time coming. Songs such as 'Infinite Lives' and 'Losses' were revealed well over a year prior to the album release now, giving you an insight into the polarised theme of the upcoming record. And that's one of the first things I noticed; this album really does capture both sides of Mega Ran's style, and its apparent that this album is a deliberate turning point in bringing together both his chip-tune and nerd-core focused music with his socially conscious hip hop together in an album that essentially defines him and his journey through music so far into one incredible piece of work.
If this is your first time listening to a Mega Ran album then you're in for a master class in taking every type of song possible, and making it into one big epic audible soup; Everything from the upbeat and inspirational (Infinite Lives and Believe!), the heavy tracks like OP and Mackerel Sky, tongue-in-cheek tracks like 'Your Favourite Song' that mock current music trends, Nerdy tributes like 'Space Defence Team' and serious retrospectives that take a heartfelt look back at some of the more difficult parts of his life (A Poet, Revisions), it really does cover a hell of a lot of ground. It's the latter of these tracks that, personally, as someone who has listened to pretty much the full back catalog of Mega Ran's, REALLY stand out to me. This has got to be the most raw and honest album to date, with subjects being tackled that you can tell were difficult to confront and revisit.
The first song that really resonated with me off RNDM, was 'The Meeting', a song where Mega Ran literally is confronted by his past self. The two perspectives clash in a way that hits you hard, when you suddenly find the idea of being faced by a younger version of yourself who had different aspirations, all too familiar. Who doesn't often wonder and ponder on the decisions they made to lead them to where they are today? Each verse tackles both sides to his personality brilliantly, and both voices the doubts he has as well as ultimately, and resolutely silencing them at the same time.
I was lucky enough to get an early preview copy of this album, and it has honestly remained a daily listen since then; The quality of not just the lyrical skill and content, but also production and sound is so finely polished, you can tell that this is going to stand the test of time as a classic. Regardless of the long build up to this album being finished, the resulting pay off doesn't feel like an ending at all, more like the start of a whole new exciting chapter in Mega Ran's career.
Regardless of whether you've never listened to his music before, or you're a long time fan, this album is a solid and I think, a pivotal point in his music. If you have the option to only get one more album this year..... invest in independent music, and treat yourself to RNDM.
And to Mega Ran..... Thank you! Ultimate Respect Due =)
RNDM is out now!