When we first announced Random (aka Mega Ran) as a guest for Tekkoshocon IX, some of our regular attendees were a bit taken aback. What is a hip-hop artist doing at Tekko? Does he really have a place here? If you’ve ever taken the time to listen to one of his tracks, you already know the answer, but if not, humor me and read on.
Nerdcore is a well established genre of music by Internet standards. The term is mainly associated with hip-hop, probably because Penny Arcade Theme artist MC Frontalot was one of the first to use and push the term. He released the song Nerdcore Hiphop in 2000 and the album Nerdcore Rising in 2005. However, other artists fit the bill as well. Hyadain, the LeetStreet Boys, and Duane & Brando are generally well known on the gamer geek and anime YouTube circuits. MC Chris, anyone? Knowing the full lyrics to Fett’s Vette - or heck, even just part of the lyrics - automatically levels your Nerd Card up in some circles. Despite his discography containing only two songs that are ostensibly Japanese culture related from a glance at the titles (Kingdom Farts and Japanese Maid) he has attended Katsucon and NYAF in the past and has occasionally been requested as a guest for Tekkoshocon.
Keeping that in mind, the reason Random fits in at Tekkoshocon so darn well is that not only does he sample and rap about Japanese games FROM JAPAN!! he does so with an honest passion that makes it clear that he does what he does because he loves it. Like Uncle Yo and the LeetStreet Boys, and for those of you that remember Tekkos of long ago, like Greggo and Piano Squall, he is a fan inside and out, forwards and backwards. That means he knows the material just as well as any fan and treats it with the reverence that a fan would.
And wow, is he good. Check out this selection off his new album with Lost Perception titled Black Materia. It’s an album about Final Fantasy VII, featuring samples from Final Fantasy VII. If you’ve never played the game, understand that several years ago in the era when most of today’s anime conventions were born everyone had played FFVII or watched someone else play it. It was one of the pillars of fandom for an entire generation, right alongside Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo!, Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Do yourself a favor and download it off of the Playstation Network, stat.
But seriously, guys, Black Materia. I’ve chosen to highlight Tifa’s Theme here. For some people, AVALANCHE is the must-hear title off of this album; for others, it’s One Winged Angel or Aerith. For me, this is it. Tifa wasn’t even my favorite character out of the diverse FFVII cast, but the way this song is written makes me rethink her. It’s written from Cloud’s point of view and explores the characters’ history together as he’s looking back and remembering what everything felt like - no spoilers, but when Random’s Cloud recalls moments of fear and pain, the delivery takes on an incredible, touching tenderness. Even those who haven’t played FFVII will recognize the sentiment if they’ve ever had a best friend of the opposite gender, a brother or sister in all but blood, a love that isn’t romantic but runs deep, unyielding, and largely unspoken.
Maybe the mushy stuff isn’t quite your style? That’s cool. This track and seven others off the Black Materia album are available for free - no strings attached, no questions asked, no dodgy websites or spyware involved - from Random himself here. Simply unzip the file, give him a shot to wow you, and if you like what you hear, do one or more of the following:
1) Buy the mp3 album at Amazon, Bandcamp, or iTunes
2) Check out Random’s other stuff, including the Mega Ran albums and NES tribute Forever Famicom
3) Throw him some props on YouTube or Twitter
4) Come see him in concert at Tekko and tell him you loved it in person
5) Share his music with your friends
And I’m not kidding… if you haven’t, go play FFVII.