Mega Ran, the emcee with a teaching and video game-loving background, formerly known simply as Random, has a discography that’s not only quite sizable by now but very substantial as well, offering concept records with a message, conscious bars and fun clean backpack jams for all. His new solo LP Extra Credit, the followup to RNDM (2015), finds Mega Ran getting a lot of heavy feelings off his chest but still he remembers to inspire perseverance and hope in us.
Gratitude for his fans and some motivational raps to gentle drum kit hits and spacious vibes via “Journey” open E.C. and open up later to life-updates from Ran (“Form School of Feng Shui”), seriousness and determination (“Airplane Mode”) and some introspection, i.e. review of personal shortcomings (“Old Enough” featuring Fake Four’s Ceschi and the grand-slamming Sammus). The electro-peppy make-up song “Pursuant Hearts (So So Sorry)” brightens up any preceding dimness and the synoptic “Mockingbird” book dedication adds character and of course a good story recommendation.
Before the next section of happy highlights comes more demon-facing but also impressive guests. Fellow emcee/teacher J-Live tag-teams with Ran to shoo away pests in “Eyes On Your Own Paper” and Queens natural Homeboy Sandman comes through in the hook of “Bliss of Solitude,” which admits to all of our lowest loneliest emotions over trudging heavy drums. Pop singer SisQó of all people joins-in for Ran’s brag fest and urban tale of come-up entitled “Church, Pt. 2.”
Fitting is how the close is one of Extra Credit’s more optimistic parts. Praiseworthy and appreciative gospel tune “Wouldn’t Miss It For The World” leads to excitable joints like the remixes of RNDM pieces “Your Favorite Song,” “Miss Communication” and “Rushmore.” Fine, fallen Phoenix rapper Thaahum (R.I.P.) provides an end-of-career verse in the super powers-packed posse cut “Defenders.”
Without needing to, meaning all his previous works are just brilliant, Mega Ran has crafted another masterpiece. Beats by DIBIA$E, Charlie Mumbles, K-Murdock and others combine that electronic game sound that Ran’s made a signature of with smoother music elements. Mega Ran will alternately put his foot down, let it all hang out or stir on all his troubles, but no matter what he’ll always go back to the bright side at some point and even if you don’t feel he’s blown your mind, he always glows with rhyme. Ran’s Extra Credit pushes his catalogue further into grade-A territory. (4 out of 5 stars)