After a long hiatus from writing I am proud to bring you all the homie Random aka MegaRan representing Philly harder than Dr. J and the 76ers and also Phoenix, AZ. It is not too often that you find an dope emcee that brings fury and tenacity to the mike but rarely if ever cusses. MegaRan is a pioneer in the fact that he has been able to tap into the video game market as well as the comic book industry with his groundbreaking material (Forever Famicom) and his character MegaRan. Between being an educator, emcee, producer, and touring I was able to catch up with Ran during a rare break in the madness. Check the interview after the jump.
Where are you reppin?
Born and raised in Philly, PA, been out in Phoenix AZ for the last 4 years. So… I guess I rep everywhere.
How did you come up with the name Random?
My favorite comic book was X-Factor.. I never was a big X-Men reader, because all of my friends were. so I jumped into the spinoffs…. Anyway there was a character named Random, who could shapeshift.. I think he appeared in like 2 or 3 issues…. kinda came and went. But I loved his character and his persona. So I adopted that name. Before that I was the The R, haha…that was a tribute to Rakim. My name is Raheem, so it was close enough for me, haha.
How do you describe your style?
It’s hard to describe it. I think it’s a combination of all of my influences… LL Cool J, Rakim, KRS-One, Kool G. Rap, Chubb Rock, Slick Rick, Redman, Ice Cube, OC, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley…. if you put all of those in a blender, and put some dope beats behind it, and add my own perspective as a teacher, gadget geek and video game head, that’d be Random’s style.
When did you first pick up the mic?
1993, summer time. I remember it clearly. I was sitting on mom’s front porch with the homies, and we all decided to write a verse. I thought mine was weak, but even in that first verse, I had a videogame reference, to Street Fighter II. That should’ve been a sign. anyway the verse was OK I guess, but that itch to create more never left, so I began writing verses much more often.
How do you balance being and educator and emcee? Do you incorporate any hip hop into the classroom?
It’s a hard thing to balance, but they’re very much alike I have to say… I experience the same highs and lows, and the same triumphs and tragedies doing both. I love teaching kids, and someone told me once that I teach on the mic too, so that’s definitely a high compliment.
I bring hip-hop into the classroom all the time… we do a “Song of the Day” once a week and I try to open the kids to some new music other than Lil Wayne and Eminem, although both of them have some very creative stuff I could use in class. I try to get them to look beneath the beats and rhymes and find more within the song. Also, once a week if their test scores are up to standard, I perform a live freestyle in class and let them make the beat, haha.
I feel that teachers more than ever have to speak the language of the youth to reach them, so it’s a great help that I happen to be well versed in the language of hip-hop.
Which do you prefer more rappin or producing?
Without question, I prefer to rap. I’ve been rapping since 1993, producing since about 2000. I love both, but I just haven’t gotten to the point where I’m as confident with my production as I am with my emceeing. I’m fortunate to know so many dope producers, like DN3, Samik, K-Murdock, Storyville, EOM and Ohene, that my beats just look like chopped liver next to theirs, in my eyes, haha. So while I love sitting down and banging out a new beat, I think the thrill of creating a new verse tops that to me. One day though, I dream of producing an entire album of mine… one day.
How many albums do you have under your belt?
Man this might be the hardest question yet…. Okay let’s see… there’s The Call (2006), Mega Ran (2007), Patches and Glue (2008), The 8th Day (2008), Mega Ran 9 (2009), TeacherRapperHero Mixtape (2009), Randomonium (2009; Japan only), Forever Famicom (2010), and Heroes, vol. 1 (2010)
How do you believe hip hop has evolved over the years?
Hip Hop has gone in some interesting directions… in the beginning we talked about real issues…then we started bragging, then we talked about issues again, then we didn’t care again… so right now we’re at a crossroads. A lot of people have made some really decent livings off of Hip Hop, and right now the cash cow seems to be drying up… everybody’s hand is in the pot but there’s not a lot to go around. So now if you’re making hip-hop music, you must be doing it because you love it, because there’s just not much money to make in it. Musically, though, producers seem to be innovating.. even at the top, which is very dope to see. Emcees though, are still saying the same things for the most part. maybe there’s just not a lot to talk about. Hip-Hop is still so young, so I think the turning point of the culture still hasn’t come yet.
Many hip hop “purists” say hip hop is dead. What is your stance on the issue?
I can’t say Hip-hop is dead when I claim to represent it.. and I’m not dead *knocks on wood* So when people say it’s dead, they’re usually from a different era where a different style of hip-hop was popular. I think we have to wake up and realize that this is a new day. These young kids don’t know about Public Enemy, and won’t unless we school them. However knowing about PE doesn’t dictate how “hip hop” you are… Its not about subject matter either, because Kool G Rap talked about guns and violence all the time, but is highly respected as a member of the culture… because he was a pioneer. Nowadays everybody is on the same tip. As a teacher I get discouraged when these kids sing these violent or sexual lyrics, but I can’t be mad at hip-hop for that. I listened to all of that stuff too. Its more up to the parents to help them make the right decisions…. to quote dead prez, it’s bigger than hip-hop. so to answer the question, I think, hip-hop’s not dead, we just need a little more originality.
The track 2k10 is one of my favorites from the Forever Famicom album. What was the concept behind the song?
The concept is based on a pretty obscure game on Nintendo called Street Fighter 2010. I tell the story of the game, which is that an ex street fighter becomes a scientist (really), and then his partner steals his formula that could save mankind, and turns on him. I honestly didn’t like that song when I made it, and felt like it was my least favorite on the Forever Famicom album, but it has definitely grown on me. Hard to believe that album has only been out for 5 months, because we worked on it for 3 years or so.
Any big plans for the rest of 2010?
Yes! K-Murdock and I are hitting the road for “The Bits and Rhymes Tour!” we’re going southwest to south east, so if you’re in the area, please come check us out!
- Nov 11 @ Headhunters720 Red River St, Austin, TX
- Nov 12-13Yule Con @ American Airlines Training Center, Ft Worth, TX
- Nov 14 @ The Highball1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX
- Nov 16 8PM @ Super Happy Fun Land 3801 Polk Street, Houston, TX
- Nov 17 2PM @ Bedrock City Comics 4602 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX
- Nov 18 9PM @ Smoke And Barrel Tavern, 324 W Dickson St, Fayetteville, AR,
- Nov 19 8PM @ 331 Nightlife Cafe, 331 W Forsyth St, Jacksonville, FL
- Nov 20 @ A Comic Shop, 114 South Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, FL (Orlando)
Thank you for listening. I appreciate the love and support… for real. Hope to see you on the road, if not, then hit up reverbnation.com/randombeats and get on the mailing list… hit me on twitter as well, @MegaRan — I ain’t hard to find. Thanks to every one reading, and to KN.com for the opportunity. Peace!
Check out Random’s new video “Push” below: