What’s up everybody welcome to the revival of our RealGamerNewz Interviews section. I’m really happy to welcome back Mega Ran to the website. We first met at PAX East a few years back while he was doing a Hip Hop and Gaming Panel with K-Murdock, and since then has gone on to produce some of the most memorable and meaningful hip hop albums on the planet shattering all boundaries and constrictions typically placed on hip hop artists blessed/cursed with the “nerdcore” label.
For those of you who are wondering, what’s going on with Ran these days? And for those of you wanting to get to know him a little deeper, RealGamerNewz presents this exclusive interview straight from the horse’s mouth.
Jon: First off Random AKA MegaRan, welcome back from the road and how are you enjoying the touring? 🙂
Random: It’s great man.. I really feel like after all the years, and all the hard work, things are finally starting to roll the way I wanted them to. I am truly good right now and it feels really great. I enjoy performing more than anything, so I’m blessed to be able to play so many shows.
Jon: Where is the most unique place you’ve ever performed, if it’s possible to narrow it down to just one?
Random: Wow, there have been a few, with me being such a different breed of rap artist. Ground Kontrol in Portland was my most recent unique performance spot. It’s an arcade bar and they don’t have a stage or sound guy, so we had to put everyone and everything in the back corner and control it while playing.
Jon: We know you’re going to be at PAX Prime performing this year, have you thought about what songs you’re going to perform?
Random: Oh yeah. I’m gonna mix it up as much as possible… I have an entire set planned out, from The Call all the way up to TRAP and Nocturnal Cantata. It’s gonna be an excellent primer for the new fans as well as giving the old fans something new, as all the songs will be covered by an amazing band out of AZ, The Lo Classics.
Jon: What was it like working with Sammus on your latest project Castlevania: The Nocturnal Cantata? Has Konami and the composers/developers behind the franchise given you any feedback?
Random: I haven’t heard from Konami but I had a chance to meet Michiru Yamane (composer of Symphony of the Night) while in Tokyo and that was a surreal experience. She stated that she loved the songs and was actually a hip-hop fan, that was a fun conversation. I performed with her looking on and got the thumbs up. I look forward to making enough money to have to deal with the developers attacking me, ha!
Jon: Now that you are established as a hip hop artist delivering tracks capable of relating video game story-lines, settings, and characters into a real life experience which even non-gamers can relate to (thereby expanding audiences) have game companies approached you to do music for their games?
Random: I’ve done some music for some games, most of which have not seen the light of day. I’m ready to pursue video game soundtracking on a serious level now, after returning from Japan I got the eye of the tiger. I have friends placing music in games and have for some time, and I’m working on an instrumental project that I hope will get people excited about the option of getting my music into games.
Jon: I feel like Final Fantasy VII is a a parable for real life with its themes of Armageddon, corporate corruption, good versus evil, and of course raw human emotion. ‘Cry for the Planet’ is a dope track that you put together which brought these themes into today’s world while still upholding the FF7 concept within its aura. Do you also feel like these games, and consequently your hip hop remixes of the games’ soundtracks, are telling a story that extends to the issues of mankind as a whole, and how would you like to see transversal art like this advance humanity / hip hop?
Random: Thank you. “Cry for the Planet” was the one track that almost didn’t make the album because of it’s story-driven nature, but it was the most important by far. I found inspiration in listening to a lot of Michael Jackson, and the beautiful track “Earth Song” inspired “Cry.” It was so real that it made me feel like it had to be on the album.
Jon: Will you ever do a Final Fantasy VI album? It’s my favorite video game of all time, and I feel it has very deep metaphorical meaning from its foundation to its surface much like how Final Fantasy VII does.
Random: I love FF6, but it didn’t touch me at the time or place that 7 did, but that doesn’t mean I’d never do any tributes to it. K-Murdock and I debate all the time about which is better, and I think I might be able to admit now that FF6 IS actually a better game than FF7, but the advent of the 3-D graphics and amazing landscape made FF7 change role playing games forever. Again, I never say never, so who knows?
Jon: On the TRAP (Television & Radio Are Poison) EP you took the most popular style of beats going in the mainstream industry right now and blessed them with some very deep and meaningful lyrics. It seemed like you are trying to reverse the curse which some of the hip hop industry suffers from, particularly negativity and promotion of a generic image and lifestyle which is ultimately causing the downfall of a lot of good people in our world. What kind of impact do you want TRAP to have on people hearing it for the first time?
Random: I want TRAP to grab people’s ears and hook them in. I hear so many people say “rap sucks these days, but the beats are hot.” So I took a month or so, hit the clubs and listened to the radio and did some real research. I’m like a hip-hop scientist in that regard. I have to do tests and experiments before I get started. Upon listening I agreed. Though today’s hip-hop production style is very different, there are still producers innovating, while most of the rappers are stuck in the dark ages concept and technique-wise. So my plan was to get on beats that they’d expect to hear a Drake, 2 Chainz or Rick Ross on, and give them a little bit of medicine that tasted like candy. I was very pleased with the result, and I actually had a lot of fun!
Jon: Still speaking on TRAP, fans of your gamer raps might have not expected this from you, but what has the feedback been like for this project and what can you tell us about TRAP 2?
Random: I’ve made a lot of new fans and supporters with that project. I get people all the time who tell me that they were moved by the story in “Black Bags,” or touched by “Turn Me Down” or walk around quoting “TRAP (King’s Theme).” I really think it’s the beats that get people into it, and then the lyrics that keep them staying and coming back. What impresses me most is that people actually listen to the words and appreciate the things I’ve said. that’s really made me excited, and that’s why I want to do a part 2. I’m taking my time on this one and it’ll probably not be done until the end of the year or later, but the first single “Doubt Me” with Futuristic and Lefty is coming next week.
Jon: What is your advice to the underground hip hop artists out there right now who might feel frustrated that things aren’t taking off in their career?
Random: I can’t give any advice that won’t sound cliche, but here goes: Be yourself. don’t chase after these people, let them chase you. Get a job so you won’t have to rely on record sales to pay bills. Stay persistent and keep your focus. set small goals that you can easily attain, then late goals. Give it your all.
Jon: Having a positive mindset is something you seem to promote heavily. On TRAP it feels like you are essentially fighting fire with water by attacking negativity in hip hop and television with positive messages. Do you feel that any films and/or video games out there can sometimes have too much negativity in them as well, or do you believe that the quantum nature of their experience allows for each individual to interpret their own vibe from a game?
Random: I try to stay positive all the time, and reflect that in my music. I also try not to make grandiose political or societal statements that can be broken down, misinterpreted and used against me but I think I failed at that with the title of this project, ha.
I don’t believe that movies and games have as much stake in what goes on, as these people are paid actors. The problem with music is that these artists spend a 60 minute album saying how real they are, which makes it hard to differentiate fact from fiction. same with “Reality” TV, where they stress that these people aren’t actors, but in actuality, they create most of the drama they face in the shows for ratings. So I do believe that individuals are able to interpret and enjoy video games without being negatively impacted for the most part, more so than TV and radio, though parents should definitely monitor what their kids are consuming.
Jon: What’s your favorite film of all time and do you feel it has had an impact on society?
Random: My favorite movies are “Casino,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “Full Metal Jacket” and most recently, “Silver Linings Playbook.” I think the combination of these titles is probably what shapes Random more than anything else. I love to laugh, but I also love to get down to business, and build strong relationships through team sports, education and music. So all of those together makes me who I am and affects my everyday being. I don’t know how many of these have impacted society but it’s widely accepted that Full Metal Jacket is one of the greatest movies ever made, and it’s place in history is undeniable…and if you disagree, what’s your major malfunction, numb nuts? Ha.
Jon: With all of the touring and continuous album dropping, do you still get time to game? What do you play these days and what is your most anticipated video game right now?
Random: I don’t have as much time as I’d like, but when I’m home between tours I try to beat at least one game. Right now I’m playing The Last Of Us, and really looking forward to playing the Deadpool game next.
Jon: Can you let us in on some of the thought that went into the ‘Tactics’ track on Time and Space Deluxe Edition? It’s one of those hip hop storytelling joints that leaves you craving for more, and what can I say I’m craving!
Random: Tactics is a two-fold track that simply came from me kicking around the title and some famous sneaky stealth action game stars. I came up with the line ‘Sam Fisher get the picture’ and went from there. I thought, what if there was a “Mission: Impossible” for rappers? That’s where I’d be. So it’s about me being an old fogey, a la Old Snake, say, and having to hunt existing rappers who don’t make wise decisions. there’s a twist at the end (I won’t give it away) and it almost works as a pseudo-origin story for Random, and a message that it’s never too late to go hard. It was weird to me, but I’m glad someone dug it.
Jon: Forever Famicom, which you put together with K Murdock, is an album that gamers can rock from start to finish with perfect flow. We recently heard K teasing a third DLC release. Is there anything you can tease or share with us about this project?
Random: Oh yeah! K sent me a bunch of beats and we’re looking to put the final cap on the series with a DLC3. I can’t speak on the game samples or tracks yet but you’ll get a taste this fall.
Jon: If you were a game designer, what kind of game would you want to be releasing right now?
Random: I’d go with a real life real time present day RPG, kind of like Earthbound, maybe including some aliens or zombies and time travel. It’d be awesome.
Jon: Do you view the console wars of Xbox Vs PlayStation Vs PC Vs Nintendo as constructive for the video games industry or do you think it’s holding the business back?
Random: I like competition, but I feel like there just isn’t any. There are no exclusive titles anymore, outside of Nintendo’s games, so it doesn’t matter much which system you buy these days. it just comes down to brand loyalty. So though I love competition, I don’t feel that we have any, it’s just a market of personal preference. For the console wars to really be effective, we need more companies willing to create great exclusive games and quit porting the same titles.
Jon: Would you rather play a game with bad graphics or bad gameplay?
Random: Bad graphics, all day. it’s all about the gameplay. Legend of Legaia and Xenogears come to mind… and even some people would say Final Fantasy VII. But if a game is fun, I can overlook the graphics flaws, no prob.
Jon: How often do people recognize you in public, and what’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you when meeting a fan in past couple of years?
Random: I have some strange chance meetings with people, like in restaurants or supermarkets, that’s always interesting. Other times it’s a weird coincidence of some kind. Like, just yesterday, the company I order my shirts from sent me an email, and it was a guy saying “I just saw this order come across and I wanted to email you and say that you’re awesome! been a big fan for years! Black Materia is genius!” I’ve had that happen in comic shops, game stores or places like that.
Most times it’s not that exciting, but I’ve met fans at airports and had whole families take pics with me, I was thinking “This must be what it’s like to be Kanye West,” ha.
Jon: I also asked a couple folks what they would like to see me ask Random before putting together this interview, and here’s what the fans wanted to know:
Fan Question #1: Could you rap about DARK SOULS for me someday?
Random: No. It’s too hard. I think my disc may be broken from tossing it out of my PS3.
Fan Question #2: Do you make beats?
Random: Yes I do, I don’t release a lot of them though, last one I made was “Tactics” on Time and Space. Will be doing an instrumental project soon.
Fan Question #3: A lot of people ask you why don’t you come to “my city” and so what is it being an up-and-coming artist and not being able to travel around everywhere and can you explain to the fans why it is that you only can come to certain cities?
Random: Well we can only come to where we’re requested. and not just by a handful of fans but by a promoter and venue who is willing to take a chance on us. So I get tons of requests to play places and I’m thankful, but until a scene is built that will come out and support these types of events, promoters will think twice about wanting to pay for a show. So it’s very important for fans in small towns to email and call their local venues and request us, to the point where they have no choice but to do it!
Fan Question #4: Will you ever do a song dedicated solely to the fact that you have two names; MegaRan and Random?
Random: Actually yes, I’m working on a song addressing that very issue… possibly for DLC3 🙂
Fan Question #5: Where’s the Sega project from you and K Murdock? We’re waiting patiently. 🙂
Random: We’re undergoing some long and arduous talks with SEGA about what we can and can’t do, since we’re trying to do this one right and on the radar. So this might be a long process. But stay patient, we’re doing our best to make it happen. Thank you guys for the game suggestions! We have a huge list now. Just have to work out the logistics.
There you have it people, the RealGamerNewz interview with Random. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to ask Random, and even after this interview I’ve thought of more questions. Eventually, when time permits, there will probably be a part 2 to this interview. If you have any more questions you want asked, you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Mega Ran Questions”. Until then, you can listen to Random’s music and order copies as well as official merchandise: CLICK HERE. Find multiple ways to follow Random below, Peace!