Interview: Son of Ran

Interview: Son of Ran

After hearing Son of Ran on Freddie Joachim’s remix of ‘The SO’, we knew one thing for sure: we have to get more music by this dude. We talked to him about his music, the new album Incoming Message and more.


To start off the interview, for those who are unfortunate, can you explain who you are and what you do?

Whattup world? My name is Randy Tolentino and many people know me as the Son of Ran. I aim to set an example of a strong believer in God, a faithful husband to my beautiful wife Khristine, a good son, a loving brother, a kuya, a cousin… In my spare time I’m an emcee. I rep Sky City, Messanger Music fams, PnoyApparel, along with Orisue and Acrylick clothing. Basically I get an instrumental from any one of my many producers, I sit there, black out… and wake up with an album. I write and record all songs out of my crib, based on the life and experiences we go through.

So I read that you were brought up in Japan, how was that? Do you feel that it was a positive experience in your life?

Oh yes, definitely. Being raised in Japan was such a benefit for myself and my family as well. It took me out of San Diego during my adolescence, a time when SD was going through a lot of chaos and gang violence. And living in a smaller community meant developing a healthier relationship with my immediate family. I was there for 7 years total… It was a great experience.

How long have you been into Hip Hop? And how long have you been writing rhymes?

Hip hop was in us since the early 80’s. I was born in the same year the Gorilla put a fist up (1980). Beginning at the age of 4, I spent long afternoons trying to memorize artists like LL Cool J,
RUN DMC, Beastie Boys – later turning to NWA, Eazy E, House of Pain, Souls of Mischief, Bone, and Pac… any sorta ‘rap’. Like most artists, I ran the gauntlet of elements going from ‘breakdancing’ in middle school, to graffiti in high school. It wasn’t until I moved back to the states for college in 1999 that I officially began writing rhymes. Seeing my cousin John and his crew at the time (Young Guns/Dope Poets Society) really sparked the passion in me. Things haven’t been the same, since.

What was your first bought Hip Hop album as a kid?

The first album I bought? Haha well I didn’t have money until my later years in elementary… it must’ve been Beastie Boys’ License to Ill… with the sketching of a plane’s tail on the front. “Here’s a little story/ I got to tell about three bad brothers/ you know so well…”

When you pick up a pad and pen, what influences your writing?

I truly get all of my inspiration from several components. My God, my Life, love, my future, and the collective human experience. When I examine these particular aspects, my approach is endless and my writing uncovers its own destiny. It’s something I almost have no control over I just have to give it time and a beat to get me goin. Most of the time, the music will hollar at you. The streets call you out. That’s why when I met the Messangers and heard their sound for the very first time, it was over. I told their business manager Brandon – call it an album, consider it cake.

If you were able to collaborate with anyone in the music industry, who would it be?

I always felt like I wanted a real shot with Genelec and Memphis Reigns. A real album. Other than that, shoot… I’d humbly ask Planet Asia to cut a gem with me (his voice is the illest), also Pep Love because his flow is impeccable. I’d also wanna get down with John Legend for soulful purposes. Who else… Typical Cats!

What is currently in heavy rotation in your iPod/computer?

Damn, I recently bought an MP3 player and started uploading several albums to it, including: Jason Mraz, Colby Caillat, Flo Rida, Maroon 5. I always have Aesop Rock in the ride, as well as Nas…

In addition to the Street Runners album, do you have any other projects you are working on that you want to announce? Any new solo stuff for craving fans?

I’m currently finishing the Incoming Message album with the mighty Messangers Music fam. That album is due to drop at the very end of summer or early fall for all the back-to-school cats dying for ill music. I also have a couple of shirts coming out from, with some super-fresh designs… They’re gonna be sick, I’m excited for that. Aside from this album, I don’t plan on doing a lot of writing/recording in 2008. I’m getting married in December so I’m focusing my attention on our planning. In addition to the wedding, I’m applying for HomeLand Security…

Preview: Son Of Ran & The Messengers – Incoming Message

I’ve always wondered, what made you choose the name Son of Ran?

Back when I used to write (graffiti) I used the name R-son… or Arson. When I began emceeing in my freshman year of college, I manipulated it Ranson. Finally, switching it to Son of Ran. To me, it meant that if I were to take this music career seriously, I had to treat it as if it were my own seed; my own son. I’d have to teach it to be righteous, progressive, and clean music. And from there I developed my approach in hip hop.

And with that I would like to say, once again, thank you for the opportunity, it means a lot to me and your fans. Any last thoughts or shout outs?

Aye man, thank YOU. I never take this for granted and I appreciate the cats who reach out and try to grasp what I do via music and artistry. I’d like to give special thanks to God, my parents, my siblings Fred and Arrin, Mel and Glenn, Linds and Marlon, my SD cousins and the extended fams. The Greatest of my love goes out to my beautiful and understanding wife. Thanks to the Dancel family, Leary family, Lonzons, Carinos… Rossi and Dixie my babies, the Messangers (Brandon, Mark and Jojo), F. Joachim, Evade beats, Genome, Cypher Ops and DJ Virus forever, Stat King Cole, the Maestronaut, PnoyApparel fams, Orisue Crew, Acrylick Clothing.

Special shout goes out to Electric Shockers, Ryo, IllWill, Ed, Phil, Mark, Jeff, Dean… Genelec and Memphis Reigns, Rob Grimes, Yung Lyricist, Sky City Familia, Full Clips DJ’s… Manny Pac! Jah Congo,, HeavyRotation with Marlino, my boy Von, and last but not least, my boy Gil for making the best damn clam chowder I’ll ever have in this life.

If I forgot you, no I didn’t… Get the album ya’ll! Incoming Message 2008…. and I’m out.

Words by: Clayton
More info:

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Not just as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, but also as a freelance music journalist (bylines at Tracklib, Bandcamp, Wax Poetics, DIG Mag, among others) and—above all—out of love for all kinds of good music.