featured interview

Random Got called Seldomly have we seen such rave reviews for an independently released album as Random's sophomore LP 'The Call'. Currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona, but born and raised in Philadelphia, Random is the next best thing.

First of all, where does the name Random come from?

It?s funny, cause I used to read comics coming up, and in ?X-Factor? there was this big dude named Random who could change into anything. I liked his personality, and so I went with the name. Before that I was ?The R?. That was just out of respect to Rakim, one of my all-time favourite MC?s. Plus I feel like I'm a pretty Random dude. At the root, it means unpredictable, and following no set pattern, that's me as an MC.

Why did you call your album 'The Call'?

Because it?s about making that difficult decision that everyone faces at some point, to accept their calling. Some people are destined to be doctors, lawyers, teacher, preachers, even emcees. I think that with that calling comes great responsibility, and as artists, we have the tough task of deciding to do it the easy way, or the hard way. I'm a hard-headed dude, so I do it the hard way.

How did you get 9th Wonder on the album?

Man, I just decided that I'd try to reach out, and it was successful. I made calls, sent e-mails, and followed up. The experience was crazy, but it resulted in a series of mix-ups. Future versions of the album won't have 9th's track on them for a few reasons. I don't want to get into that too much.

Your first release is the ?Fundamentals? EP, will that be re-issued, or your debut album ?Archetype? for that matter?

I really don't think so. I mean, it was so rough to me. If anybody has it, hold on to it, maybe one day it'll be a collector?s item (laughs). I pressed it up myself, produced it myself, even engineered it myself. I like the album, but it was old to me. I feel that I got better with time, so I'd rather go forward. An old version of ?Blackout? is on there, and some of the concepts either have been used, or will be used on future projects. We (RAHM Nation) had plans of a re-mastered version of ?Fundamentals? but I shut that down. Once it's done, it's done to me.

How would you compare Archetype with your latest effort ?The Call??

There's no comparison! ?The Call? is my soul, my baby. This is a very spiritual and special album to me. I put two to three years of my life into making it happen. It?s the album I dreamed of making, even while working on ?Archetype? and ?Fundamentals?. I hate when people make an album and then a year later say that the album was wack. ?The Call? was hot on February 21, 2006, and it's hot now.

There's also a ?The Call Remixes? album coming out.

Yes indeed, I'm really excited about that. It's gonna be a Re-Mixtape of sorts. Unreleased tracks, remixes with new lyrics, production and guest artists plus a few ?mixtape-style? joints. We got a number of cats lined up, I don't wanna say any names yet, don't wanna jinx it...

Why did you decide to put out the album with different special limited edition covers?

Euhm, just something different to do. I liked the idea because it gives something back to the fans. The people like choices. Just another perk of being independent.

Your album has been loudly applauded at by the press, gettin rave reviews and all, do you think this album is the breakthrough, that it will take your career to another level?

Man, God only knows. I hope so, as I said, I put a lot of work behind this project, and I'm thankful that people have been receptive to it for the most part. It?s taken me to a lot of places I'd have never been, got me exposure I've never ever dreamed of getting, and it's really amazing. I've always had a blind faith that people would respond well to thoughtful, progressive music, and so far that's what happened. I'm very thankful.

Are you waiting for 'The Call', a phone call of a major label?

(laughs) That's funny. No, I don't think so. ?Whether or not the labels call, all I?mma do is 'Raze The Bar.? That's a line from the remix. I'm not gonna lie and say that I'd turn down a Def Jam deal when I'm struggling to make car payments... but that's not what I'm in the game for. I mean come on, who makes a single dissing the radio? That's what kinda stuff Random is on. It'd really have to be the right deal. I don't think what I do, would be lucrative for a major, so I don't expect that call.

Tell us more about the Dilla Project you'll be doin....

This Dilla Project is nuts man... the joint should be out by the time this is posted. My DJ, Dn3 and myself just decided one day to work on a Dilla tribute mixtape. As the time went on, it just got bigger and bigger. I called a lot of industry cats, some of which I knew, some of which I didn't, and told them about it, and they agreed to hop on. The mixtape has tracks with Doo Wop, Ohmega Watts, Dave Ghetto, J-Live and a whole lot more. I've been bumpin' the master in my car for the past three days, it's crack, as they say on the block. It's totally a fan effort, unofficial as ever, just something for Dilla. We're donating all the proceeds to the Dilla Foundation, jdilla.org, no profit to us at all. I felt like our paths kinda crossed by fate, because he passed like two weeks before my album dropped, and I've been linked to him in so many ways. I've always respected his work, but I feel like I've gotten to know James the man, not just Dilla the producer, since doing this project. I've dedicated a part of my set to him ever since he passed, and I just want people to recognize his greatness and brilliance.

Any Philadelphian artists you wanna work with in the future?

It?s crazy, because the more you do shows, the more you run into most of Philadelphia's scene. I think the ultimate would be to work with Black Thought, because I feel like he's probably the most consistent emcee of all time. I've never heard a wack verse from Black. I'd love to get in the booth with Jill Scott too. I made a beat that I named ?For Jill? if I ever get to work with her (laughs).

Are you raised on Schoolly D, Jazzy Jeff, Tuff Crew and other local classic acts?

Oh snap! what you know about them cats? I thought they were strictly local cats. I wasn't the biggest rap fan until I heard Cool C, Steady B, 3x Dope and other cats. I was raised on Motown, but I used to sneak and listen to rap when I got my first Walkman.

How would you describe the Philly scene? Is it hard to come up, get gigs, recognition from the people?

Philly is a brutal town. We don't really respect anything for the most part. This is a town that eats its young. The murder rate is on the rise, the mayor's under fire, it?s wild. Hip-hop wise, we don?t really have the support system that I see in a lot of smaller markets...even in bigger markets. I got a little bit of hate from artists when I first got on the scene, but it's no big deal... it?s hard to break into a clique that's been established way before you came around. Nobody wants to lose their spot. My man JonBap says ?Don't get mad, get better?. But after a while, I think I've been embraced for the most part. I'm in Phoenix, AZ now, and I see a lot more support between the 'little guys,' so to speak. You just gotta work hard, gotta stay on the grind. Everybody says they're grinding, but I think we forgot what that means... get better! Nobody owes you anything. There are a million emcees on the planet. I'm far from a household name but any little bit of recognition I get in Philly and beyond is because I did mad shows, networked and worked hard. God is good, cause I know I couldn't do it alone, I'm just a shy kid from the city.

How would you describe 'gospel rap' as your music is sometimes called?

I don't like the term 'gospel rap' at all, and I'm not a big fan of it, mainly because it's not what I am... I like it a little, and I used to be a strictly gospel-emcee, but I found that I couldn't speak my mind about subjects that meant a lot to me under the genre of gospel rap. Like the fact that drugs and guns are tearing the hood apart. I felt it limited me and the people I could reach. If you're rapping in churches, you're preaching to the choir, literally. Get out on the block, in the streets, in the trenches and shine. Labels are for bottles, let the music speak for
itself.

Do you listen to gospel music? If so, what groups can you recommend?

I do. I love Cross Movement, they always manage to keep it fresh and dope. Donnie McClurkin and Fred Hammond are the truth too. Super-talented musicians as well as vocalists.

Do you go to church often?

I do when I can. Since I've moved to Phoenix, I've had a hard time finding a church home, but I know I will. I passed an interesting looking one today.

I heard you speak Spanish? Learned it in school? Ever been to South America or Spain?

Man, I took 3 years of Spanish in college, spent thousands of dollars on it...and I can't hold a conversation. But I can pick up words and phrases, so I know what people are saying... I teach in a school that's 90% Hispanic in Phoenix, so I feel the college years coming back a little. I recognize the curse words when I hear 'em (laughs).


(Laughs) You do write poems too?

I used to write poems a lot, the last poem I wrote, I turned it into a rhyme, and the rest is history. I love reading poetry, and I look at poets probably more than rappers, as my inspiration.

What are some of your fav poets?

I love Baraka, Hughes, Claude McKay, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni...so many, too many to list.

Your album reveals a lot of musical influences...what kinds of music do you listen to mostly?

I listen to all types of music...for example, this week I got a bunch of British Rock CD?s. One week it?s Classical, next Jazz, then Rock, then 80's, then Oldies, then Funk... I love it all, besides Death Metal and Country. Although I do have Aerosmith and Alabama in the CD collection (laughs). Not a whole lot of Hip-Hop though, cause nothing outside of RAHM Nation inspires me. I just buy hip-hop stuff to hear the beats most times.

You're producing too, what's your production equipment?

I make beats on an MPC, Reason, and a few other devices.. This next album, I'm gonna do most of the production, because if I tried to explain the things I want to do beat-wise to any producer, they'll look at me like I'm crazy.

Who are your fav rap artists at the moment?

Hmmm, I like the regular kinda guys, cause they inspire me. MURS, Mr. Lif, Lupe Fiasco... I also like Outkast, Jadakiss, Black Thought, Kanye, J-Live, Reef the Lost Cauze, and of course my squad, RAHM Nation.

What albums are you listening to at this moment?

Right now, at this moment? Euhm...last album I listened to in its entirety was Outkast's ?Idlewild?. Besides that it?s this RAHM Nation mixtape. Sorry to be all about my squad, but man, believe me, ain't nobody comin' how we are, that's just fact.

What's next for Random?

Shows, more production... Got a few collabos to hammer out, then I'm dropping this Re-mixtape in the Winter, and then I'm going to work on the next album, don't expect that before 2008. The Re-mixtape will feature some new goodies, plus some remixes of my favourite tracks from ?The Call?. I've been fortunate enough to start recording out here, and I have some good quality joints, but I haven't gotten into the mindstate of doing the next album yet. This album is gonna be so different, it's crazy. I know everybody says that the next album is 1000x better than the last, so I won't say that. ?The Call? was hot in February '06 and it's hot today. If you ain't got it, get it. The next project won't be better, won't be worse, but it'll be different. What else would you expect from a dude named Random?

Shout-outs?

Much love to everybody in Philly, I'll be home for Christmas. All my new peeps out in Phoenix, everybody at the Conservatory, anyone who supports true music, and Platform 8470 for the opportunity!

Thank you!

 

POSTED 10|13|2006
conducted by cpf

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