Mega Ran 10
Mega Ran 10
November 11, 2011
Buy at Bandcamp
Four years have passed since Random, then Mega Ran, released his hip-hop homage to Mega Man entitled, fittingly, Mega Ran. Since that time he has released a wide range of projects (including Black Materia earlier this year) but never a thematic sequel to 2009’s Mega Ran 9. Spurred on by the success of his albums to date, Random formally resigned from teaching earlier this year to focus on his music full-time. Mega Ran 10 marks the first album since this decision and the first time in two years that Random has revisited the blue bomber as an inspiration for his songs. Fans of both Mega Man and Mega Ran can rest easy, it was well worth the wait.
Balancing game references along with personal narratives, social commentary, humor, and some of the best vocal work on the Nerdcore scene, Mega Ran 10 delivers everything that Random has become famous for. The opening “Here We Go Again” is a quick piece that contextualizes the album and sets up the story of the Robot Flu (Roboenza!) from Mega Man 10. Unlike the original Mega Ran, this album doesn’t stick to a coherent story and features a few tracks having nothing to do with Mega Man past the samples, but fans of Random’s music should know that these occasional asides are what makes his albums shine.
“Looking Up” mixes music from Mega Man 10 with, of all things, a chorus sampled from Paramore’s song of the same name. It’s amazing how well the blend works and supports Random’s steady, staccato, rapping. Even if you’ve never played a Mega Man game before (if so… how did you find this site exactly?) this is a thoroughly modern hip-hop track that belongs on almost any upbeat playlist. “Commando” follows with a deeper, slower, and more urban feel and is a more traditional rap track than Random usual delivers. It’s similar in sound to Black Materia’s “AVALANCHE” and establishes the serious tone of the album’s plot from the inherently optimistic “Looking Up” perfectly — although taken on its own it is not one of the more impressive tracks on the album. Random is at his best when he’s fast, light, and silly in his wordplay.
“Sick!!” is easily the most infectious catchy likely single to come off the album and get stuck in your head. The slow, steady quarter note backbeat helps ground the faster rapping of the track but drops nicely for the a capella break at 2:30, which is priceless. “Now Hiring” is equally upbeat and chipper and allows Random to (expertly!) vocalize the frustrations he has faced adjusting to the life of a professional rapper. It is by far the most fun track on the album with its tongue-in-cheek chorus (“I don’t mean to be an a-hole/Too many yes men, I need someone to say no/I don’t got much in terms of payroll/I just want to make music and lay low”). As a counterpoint, “TDTRTO” (The Day The Robots Took Over) is another of Random’s moral tracks, in the spirit of Black Materia‘s “Cry of the Planet”. Lamenting the proliferation of technology and social media on our daily lives, the message of unplugging is something we all could perhaps do with internalizing.
Mega Ran 10 also features a great number of guest rappers who rank alongside Random as some of the biggest names in Nerdcore. Beefy and Phil Harmonix lend their considerable talents to “Go Off”, which also features some of Random’s fastest rapping on the album. Beefy’s signature rap style and tone carry the second verse easily, and the two combine to create a great, synergetic energy which Phil Harmonix brings home on the third verse. Adam WarRock is featured on “Pump It Up!”, a great track that will likely become a fan favorite staple when performed live by the two and recalls the fun wordplay of The Bloodhound Gang. The smooth and laconic chorus of “Next Level” closes out the guest tracks and features Storyville — a non-Nerdcore rapper from Random’s old hip-hop label RAHM Nation.
As the album progresses past the instrumental “Megalude 10” and the grinding guitars of “Bassnium”, a note of underlying sadness can be picked up buried in the beats of each track. By “Ten”, the listener realizes there’s more to Mega Ran 10 than just another fan album and in “Mega Man Forever” Random bids Mega Man and fond, if slightly sad, farewell. Before Mega Ran 10 dropped, Random went on record as saying this would be his last Mega Man album and “Mega Man Forever” sums up his history with, and feelings towards, one of his favorite childhood icons in a way that will resonate with any seasoned gamer.
With Mega Ran 10, Random once again proves that he is one of the most accomplished and capable rappers both in or out of the Nerdcore scene. Despite the odd misstep or two on the album (the slightly oversampled Proto Man whistle on “A Hero’s Lament” is positively ear-piercingly shrill at higher volumes), Mega Ran 10 is an indispensible addition to any gamer’s musical collection. With polished production values and clear vocals (to say nothing of clear messages) throughout, Mega Ran 10 is undeniably an album by a gamer for gamers. And more than that, it’s a labor of love… for a little blue robot man who never learned how to properly wear his underwear.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Matt Diener. Last modified on August 1, 2012.