RATING: 4 CHET BAKERS
I have a confession to make: I've never played Final Fantasy. Although I've owned virtually every console that the game has been featured on, including the Super Nintendo, and Playstation's one through three, I've yet to play a single minute of a single game. I've never been one who was into RPG's to start with, plus I don't have the patience or attention span, I don't believe, to sit and pay attention and keep track of all the potions and spells and stuff like that.
I was always more prone to liking fighting games or God of War type hack/slace games. Basically give me a few weapons and let me tear up some monsters/demons/bad guys is my motto.
In fact, the only thing I knew about Final Fantasy is that someone out there by the name of "AtomX" made an awesome fan video based on one of my favorite songs, "Gravity of Love" by the group Enigma from the video clips from Final Fantasy VIII.
So when I heard that my man Mega Ran was going to be putting out an album based on Final Fantasy VII I was interested, but not entirely sold on it. Mega Ran's already proven that he can unleash some creativity when it comes to his music, as shown by Forever Famicom, the collaboration between himself and producer K-Murdock (Panacea, CrossRhodes) which featured Mega Ran's raps over old school NES/SNES based beats.
Now admittedly that wasn't my thing. I bought it and supported the project -- because that's what you do with true innovative music: you support it, because the labels won't -- but I think the old school Nintendo beats just didn't do anything for me. It was tight as hell how the production ended up, and Ran's lyricism is never in question, but it just wasn't for me.
So I didn't know what to expect. Would it feature more of the seriousness of his "RANDOM" disography, or more to the video game "Mega Ran" discography in which it's a bit more relaxed and fun? Well, I have to say that I feel "Black Materia" creates a proper balance between the two.
I do have to point out that this feels like an "inside joke" of sorts. More emphasis on the "inside" part rather than the "joke". It's like when you're around people who all know a specific story and their details, so they laugh about certain things or they'll just make a veiled reference to it. They all knowingly smile or laugh, and yet you sit there confused, but wanting to know about what seems to be an interesting story.
This feels like that at times. As I said I'm not famiilar with the Final Fantasy series, and I have to think that if I had played Final Fantasy VII I would get this so much more. As it stands, I absolutely love it. It's telling this story that, that I'm assuming is the FFVII story, in each track and I'm captivated the whole time. And since I haven't played the game or know anything about it, perhaps that's why I feel this way. Like the old radio shows in which they'd tell stories each week. Each week a new entry in the saga, which would have people huddled around their radios each week just waiting to hear the next exciting chapter.
That's how I felt while listening to Black Materia. I'm wondering though whether it's better to go in blind like myself or be like seemingly 99.99% of the rest of the population who's actually played the series and knows the things that are being talked about.
I have to give it to Random here. He's obviously got immense love for the series and this game specifically, and it is abundantly clear as you listen. Each track a separate chapter in this story from the viewpoint of the characters. It's truly an amazing concept album that you don't see often enough. These days everything is sort of cookie-cutter. There's a formula that people adhere to. I wonder how many people actually TRULY understand that.
The artists today are striving to do the same thing that's been done. No deviation, no wandering too far from the beaten path. And then there are independent artists such as K-Murdock, Mega Ran and Lost Perception that are pushing those boundaries. That are hopping the fence that lines that beaten path, to journey off and see what's over there. That's the very definition of the term "independent".
Awesome album, and trust me when I say you have not lived until you have listened to Don Corneo's track. It'll make you question, in the words of the Don himself, "are you sure this game is rated for Teens?".
Standout tracks include "Don of the Slums", "Tifa" and "Avalanche" among many others. Production is tight and well done, as are Mega Ran and the guest rappers.
Buy with confidence by clicking HERE to go to Mega Ran's website and purchase it.