Monday, April 14, 2008

The Breakdown.

“Like we always do at this time.”

I’ve always wanted to start an album off with these words, since I heard “The Chronic” for the first time.

But I didn’t do that with Patches and Glue…maybe next time. “Patches and Glue” is a name that refers to what I would ask for at the corner store if my bike tire went flat. That $2.00 kit would get me up and rolling in a matter of minutes, depending on how well my patching skills were.

So for this EP (which actually isn’t an EP), I decided to take it back to the block, so to speak. So that means I enlisted help from some of the homies from the ‘Stock, our affectionate name for Woodstock Street in the West Oak Lane section of Northwest Philadelphia… like Chris Bantum, who did the artwork, and JonBap, who’s on the vocals, but more on that later. So, let’s break it downnnnnn:

1. Words from the Beagle produced by Storyville

Another thing I wanted to do on this album, that I actually got a chance to do was get someone else to rap on the intro. So, I asked my man DN3 to say a few words to set it off, and he didn’t disappoint. DN3 (Mel) wears many hats; he’s my show DJ, primary producer and engineer, and co-host on the weekly podcast we record. On top of all that, he’s a dope MC. I think his voice and style are amazing, and better than 95% of full-time rappers who think they’re the next big thing. I always try to get him to work on a solo album, but I don’t think he’s interested in a true solo rap career.
Anyway, he killed this joint! I had to chuckle at the “Ran’s a hefty dude” line.
Producer Notes: Produced by my man Storyville, who constantly raises the bar with his production.

2. Fly produced by Raze Brooks

“This is it right here.” When I said that at the beginning of the song, I really knew this it. The song that captured the entire album and feel… The single. The inspiration for this song was pretty simple; life. As a school teacher by day, I see so many kids at school who just don’t have any inspiration to push harder. I’m hoping this song can do that for them. It’s almost like a “Raze the Bar/Push/Salvation” mash-up sequel. This time, a cool young kid, Syl Dubenion, hooked up a smooth sax sample we used over the hook. We just shot a video for this one, a teaser and full video should be available soon.

Producer Notes: Produced by Raze Brooks of the United Kingdom, dude’s a sample head like me. He produced a joint with me and Doctor Oscify for the “Remixtape,” I think I met him through Storyville, Raze had heard our stuff and almost demanded that he get a beat on a project…so he sent me some joints and this one jumped out at me.

3. Til The Horns Blow produced by DN3

Again, they say that somewhere near the beginning of the album, you gotta have a track letting the haters know that you’re not the one to mess with…so enter “Til The Horns Blow.” When I wrote this, I had Pharoahe Monch’s “Let’s Go” on repeat constantly, trying to get back into that battle rapper mode. I really haven’t been on that kick for a long time, as I kinda lost the zeal for those “I’m calling out the rapper with no name and face” rhymes for a long time. I hate to call attention to it, but it’s the first time I ever cussed on a record. True, it’s only ‘ass,’ but still… anyone who knows me knows that’s like a big deal. Sometimes the rhyme scheme just calls for the right word, and it just works. Ohene and I used to have long debates about foul language in hip-hop, and he’d say that words are just like colors are to a painter… If the World Painters Association said “from now on, painters can’t use orange,” then how would you paint an orange tree? It’s very limiting. I’ve only chosen not to use foul language because of the many places I’ve taken my music, from the church to elementary schools to universities…but hey, it’s not like they’ve never heard it. Art is art…is art.

4. The Beatdown produced by K-Murdock

The way I met K-Murdock was very strange. I sent some materials to XM Radio hoping to get some airplay, and sent them c/o a Kyle Murdock, and hadn’t heard anything for a few weeks until I got a myspace message from K-Murdock (of Panacea) saying “yo! I just heard that Mega Ran joint! It’s crazy! Thanks for sending it to the station!” I’m like whoa…trying to put 2 and 2 together… turns out that K works for XM Radio, in addition to producing for Panacea, Raheem DeVaughn and many others…
So, K pitched me some ideas for future projects that he was working on, and I was down. He sent me a slew of beats, and one became “The Beatdown.” I’d say that if “Fly” is this album’s “Raze The Bar,” Then “Beatdown” could be this album’s “Push,” except that the sax is on “Fly.” Got that? Subject wise, Drew Thomas’ chorus sums it all up:

“When life keeps beatin ya dowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn,
Six feet under the grounnnnnnnnnnnnd.
I am always arouuuuuuuuuuund,
To lift you with that healin’ sound.”

Producer Note: Look out for a future (TOP SECRET) producer/MC project with myself and K-Murdock in the near (or distant) future.

5. Twice Over produced by DN3 and Ohene

The thing about this album is that every song was recorded at a different time, some 2 months ago, and some 2 years ago… so it really takes me back to what mindstate I was in at the time. By now you may know the story of the beat (short version—it was jacked from Ohene’s “Without Words” album—but we’re labelmates, we can do that), but the lyrics came to me very easily… in fact it kinda scared me. This is me telling the story of how I got to Phoenix, why I rhyme, and why I have no regrets.
*steps on soapbox* you know, there comes a time in every man’s life where he just sits back and does some introspection, and asks himself: “am I doing all I could be doing?” not just for myself, but for my family, for my dream…
*steps off of soapbox*
Or maybe it was my midlife crisis in digital form… who knows.

6. Inbox produced by Random
Ahh…looking for love in all the wrong places. This could’ve been called “Tainted Love” 2.5.1 or something like that. I don’t know about you, but a LOT of people I know have dated online, and most of them has ended pretty badly. I still remember my first… ah, Jamie from Chicago… man… Oh, yeah…well, anyway, the story’s not true, but easily could’ve been. Mega Ran shows up on this one, mainly because a) it’s funny, and b) I rap and produce on the cut. Seems to be an early crowd favorite.

7. Grandma's Boys featuring JonBap produced by DN3
My man JonBap and I go back like…recliners… like dyslexics…like Marty Mc Fly. I think I knew Chuck since we were both like 7. Bap was there when I wrote my first rhyme, so it’s only fitting that he’s on this project. I recorded this one almost a year and a half ago in Philly, for a short-lived group album that Bap and I wanted to complete in a week. We got like 4 tracks in, and then things kinda stalled. We had quite a few gems that I swore wouldn’t go unheard… Maybe we can save one of the others for JonBap’s album…coming…um… hopefully before Jesus.

8. The GetDown produced by Storyville
Remember that episode of Chappelles show where the girl’s boob pops out during the skit, and Dave was staring at it the whole time? He said “I felt like I did that with my mind or something!” I may have done some similar Jedi mind trick to get this beat from Storyville.
The story was: he was working on his album and wanted me to feature on this beat for a track called “Blue Collar.” I dropped my verse, all the while uber-envious of the beat, then I get a call 2 weeks later, and he asks me do I want the beat for myself!! I jumped for joy on the inside, while coolly responding, “Ok, sure.” So, a few months later, “Blue Collar” had changed into “The Getdown.” Big shout out to one of my students, Israel, who gave me the pregnant essay joke I used on there. He’s since been expelled, so I hope he’s okay.

Producer’s note: I’ve learned to trust Storyville, but this track changed a bit from my first recording until the final mix. One new part was the guitar stylings of Vince “The Rocket Scientist,” who would’ve been mentioned in the credits had he not been an 11th hour addition.

9. I Pray produced by DN3 and Ohene
I got to accomplish a few things on this EP that I dreamed about but hadn’t done before; and another was to have the final song go over 6 minutes, with some clapping, stomping and beatboxing, or ‘taking it to church’ as we call it.
This track was another Ohene-rip (maybe I should just refer to them as such), but it was mine to begin with. Let me explain…
Well, on “The Call,” I had an interlude called “The Prayer,” and Ohene played some keys over it. So, in order to keep a piece of the old projects alive in the new, we sampled that piano loop and created “I Pray.” If you’re keeping score, these are the connections:

2006- 3 part love song (Tainted Love)
2007- 2 part love song (Aqua Soul & The Continuation)

2006- Sax solo on Push (Frank Machos)
2007- Sax solo on “Megalude” (Kid Overdrive—well not totally live)
2008- Sax solos on “Fly” (Syl Dubenion)

bonus track:

Wings Produced by DN3

I don’t know. This is what I say to everyone who asks me “What were you thinking to put this kind of spin on the whole 9-11 thing?” I really don’t know. I watched “Crash” and I really liked it. I wanted to make a scenario where people crossed paths and were interrelated and have 3 sides to the same story, and then I wanted to base it around a real event… then “Wings” was born. I remember writing this on a plane, ironically. I’ve been told that this song has managed to touch a lot of people, and I’m glad, I guess. 9-11-01 was an extremely tragic event, but tragedy often creates triumph. I mean, it’s great to look at events from other peoples’ shoes and try to understand them better, so that’s what I did. Maybe if we all did that, this world would be less judgmental…whoops. *steps on and off soapbox*

Inbox (Remix) feat. DN3 and 88-Keys

I liked Inbox so much, we decided to remix it… but not just any remix, this is the “electric remixation,” as I’ve dubbed it. I reached out to 88-Keys, impressive producer who’s worked with people that I’D like to be working with-- people like Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Musiq Soulchild, and Kanye West, who’s the godfather to his baby…crazy, huh?—and he was down to work. We decided to rework A Tribe Called Quest’s classic “Electric Relaxation” and put a cyber-spin on it. Something for the nerds, something for the backpackers…something for everybody 

And there you have it, folks…Patches and Glue. Hope you enjoyed this little walkthrough, it’s not only difficult, but it took a danged long time to do! But I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you.

If you copped “Patches,” Thank you!! If not, then go do that, dude!

Then tell me your favorite song.

Peace, love and Patches,


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Random, aka Mega Ran. Teacher, Rapper, Hero. Random manages the unthinkable by dazzling retro gamers while garnering respect from Hip-Hop's harshest critics. Random's unique combination of fantasy and introspective hip-hop has found its way into movies, video games, and even coursework at several universities. By day, he is a middle school English teacher...and he likes to speak in the 3rd person.

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