Ran-D: It takes a go-getter

From NASCAR to fighter Urijah Faber, local rapper/songwriter Ran-D has the gumption

Ran-D chillin’ at the entrance to Midtown’s Omina Laboratories, where he recorded <i>The Ran-D Style</i>.

Ran-D chillin’ at the entrance to Midtown’s Omina Laboratories, where he recorded The Ran-D Style.

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It’s a chill, relaxing Saturday in Midtown. Ran-D’s kicked back in a chair in Omina Laboratories’ studio two, halfway into his four-hour radio show that airs on local producer Jae Synth’s KUMS.FM Web station. The program, The Ran-D Style Classics Show, features local hip-hop interviews and old-school rap tracks. Today, his guest is Lincoln-based producer TmosBeatZ, who produced most of The Ran-D Style, his debut, which dropped last month.

Ran-D spins 2Pac’s “Keep Ya Head Up,” one of Tmos’ guest picks. Later, he plays “We Go 2 Work,” his album’s single. J-Intell, who owns Omina and is in the studio to the right, engineered the track, which features clickety high-hat run, chiming melody, funky bass and guitar, grimy synth, and Ran-D’s baritone rhymes. The song reps Sac hard—“Can’t hold us down, we’re coming up / 916, that’s what’s up / Sac is now blowing up / ’Cause every day we go to work”—and the track is Ran-D Style’s strongest.

And indeed, Ran-D reps it hard. As Synth says, Ran-D is the ultimate Sacramento “go-getter.” But even a go-getter needs a break; Ran-D got his at Raceville USA.

It was the same weekend that Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s famous black No. 3 car returned to NASCAR. Ran-D had made a music video for one of his songs, “Let’s Race,” using stock-car footage; NASCAR thought it was cool and flew him in to Mooresville, N.C., to perform. At the race, Ran-D met Richard Childress’ grandson Austin Dillon, who would drive a black car brandishing the Intimidator’s legendary “3” that afternoon.

Dillon asked to see Ran-D’s video. He dug it. “Can we watch it again?” Ran-D recalls him asking. They viewed it two more times.

Dillon went on to win the race. Word spread about Ran-D. “That basically opened the gates for me right there,” he says.

Now, Ran-D’s made videos for local World Extreme Cagefighting fighter Urijah Faber. A Russian fight team uses one of his songs for a brawl TV show called Cage Rage. He’s done a song for Fly Energy Drink. The rapper/video mogul has even pitched a music video to CSI: Miami. He went and got it, so to speak.

Back in the studio, Ran-D’s still chilling with Tmos. “We met at the state fair, actually,” he says, off the air, scratching his goatee, of his producer. Long story short: Tmos, member of local trio the Certified Spitters, ended up squatting at Ran-D’s pad in early 2007, but instead of paying rent, he created beats for Ran-D to rap over. Two years later, their collaboration is a 17-track album.

Generally speaking, it’s an OK rookie release. The beats are dynamic and the raps serviceable. Some tracks confuse: The opening songs, and especially track two, “Bet Cha,” sound great but speak to a certain rap narcissism that’s worn out and borderline sexist. “I bet you didn’t know I could grind like that / from behind like that / I know you like it like that,” raps Sir Tone, local artist and fellow Certified Spitter.

On the flip side, the ballad “Do U Ever” is sincere and personal. Ran-D raps and vocalist Tone Malone croons, “Do I ever cross your mind, anytime? / Do you ever wake up reaching out for me?” with a soulful, very Brian McKnight alto that plays nicely against J-Intell’s R&B piano mix.

The video for “Do U Ever” is kind of corny, yeah, but there’s a lot of cool footage of Sacramento locations and Golden Gate Bridge scenery (check out all Ran-D’s films at www.youtube.com/therandystyle).

There’s no debating, however, Ran-D’s skills as a radio host: He has a gritty but pleasant on-air voice that has “future in radio” written all over it. He introduces Kool Moe Dee’s “Wild Wild West” and off air asks not to forget to thank B-Smoove, J-Intell, Jae Synth and everyone else in this story. And that’s Ran-D’s style: He’s a grateful guy who gives 100 percent.

Nobody buys albums anymore these days, remember? You kinda have to be a go-getter to make it.