Teacher, Rapper, Hero.
In defining a creative endeavor, whether it be your game blog, your music career, or your potato gun, it is vital to have a set of words that capture the essence of your work. Mega Ran, also known as Random, has just released volume 3 of "Language Arts," an album series apparently devoted to proving his creative identity. It succeeds!
Compared to the previous two Language Arts volumes, this is the one I prefer most. There's songs throughout the trilogy that will remain on my playlists for some time, but this most recent installment delivers the fullest package of good rhymes.
Lyrically, the tracks are consistent with the previous two volumes, centering on the story of Mr. J, the rapper/teacher who moonlights as a hero. The narrative is a point of intrigue in itself, providing a context for the efforts of its central character. Messages revolve around themes that will resonant particularly well with gamers, students, teachers or parents, and anyone that enjoys heroics.
The beats are up to Mega Ran's usual standards. You won't be able to deny them your head-bobbing or foot-tapping, to say the least. The production quality is evident to any casual listener, where music and voice never over-power one another, and the virtues of each can shine.
I'm a big fan of the third track "How Bad Do U Want it," an introspective look at the hero teacher's motivations. Bearing in mind my relative inexperience with the rap/hip hop genre, it strikes me as an extremely effective balance of rhyme and melody. Similarly successful in this is the fifth track, "Maya's Song," based on Maya Angelou's renowned autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In the context of the album, its story underscores the cultural identity of its hero, bringing context to his efforts. Another favorite, the eighth track "Game Depot" takes a stand on the controversial issue of video game violence and addiction, comparing it to drug abuse. The bonus track "My Getaway" is another I must call out. Lyrically and melodically, it suits my tastes quite perfectly.
My primary complaint here is with the lack of variance in some melodies. Perhaps I speak to this in ignorance of the genre's traditions, but I would have appreciated more variety across the board. Those songs I called out above are strongest in terms of melody, but all could use a bit more of the kind of epic scale one might expect from the story of a hero triumphing over a villain.
Spoken word segments contribute well to the progression of the story, but I find that they are a bit lengthy in a setting where I'm eager to hear more music. In particular, the "PC Skit" at the end of the ninth track "The Path" is a bit tedious, though somewhat humorous. I wish it was a separate track so I could skip it on replays.
All in all, this is a great album well-worth the $7 he's asking for it. I'd even go so far as to say it's worth more than that!