By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
To the Miami rap community, Wallace was better known as Ran Rover, one of the area's most promising young MCs. The 25-year-old had a tough, grisly Southern flow that was both powerful and agile. His 2004 debut, Ride with Ya Boy, was among the strongest local hip-hop debuts of recent vintage. It featured Snoop Dogg, JT the Bigga Figga, and Juvenile.
"This was a complete shock for us," comments James Dunn, who along with cousins Ray and Christopher Dunn owns and runs Ran's label, Bottom Grounds Records. "It was such a weird weekend. We were recording and I was trying to find Ran. I was calling him to come into the studio. He usually picks up his phone on the first ring; nobody was."
Ran grew up in Carol City and attended North Miami Senior High School. As a teenager, he idolized Outkast, the Geto Boys, and of course Tupac. "[Tupac's] Machiavelli [themed] album stuck out to us in particular because we were living like he was spitting," comments Big Chad, Ran's label-mate as well as childhood friend.
After spending his teen years rehearsing his rhymes, Ran signed with Bottom Grounds in 1999. Ride with Ya Boy was the label's first and so far only release.
"It was important for us to see Ran make it because we were putting him as the front-runner," Big Chad comments. "We were all into it, but everyone didn't have the drive that Ran did. He told us this was where we needed to be going with it and this was what we needed to be doing. He did it so effortlessly."
Ran was currently preparing his follow-up album, Between 2 Fires, for a summer 2006 release. The album was set to feature production by Drum Majors, who have previously lent their talent to tracks from Jacki-O and Trick Daddy. We can only hope that the ten or so completed tracks will eventually see the light of day.
As a person, Ran was kind and affable. "Ran was one of the coolest brothers you'd ever want to meet," Chad says. "He'd give anything to anybody, and if you were down for him, he'd be down for you. That's the type of person he was. He would make friends so easy. He told me that you have to surround yourself with positive people and positive things. If you saw how many people loved him, then there's no way to deny how much he gave to those around him."
Although Ran's rhymes were often filled with violent imagery, Chad insists he was no thug. "It could've happened to anybody. That's how life is out here in the streets, and my dawg would've been the first one to tell you that. I don't want anyone to think that he was a bad person.... We've lost a lot of homies out here, but there was no one quite like my dawg."
On a lighter note, this week we debut a new page in the music section titled Burner. Burner will consist of shorter pieces. We hope the nontraditional structure of many of the items will help illuminate issues surrounding music in a way that traditionally structured stories cannot. And, of course, feedback is always welcome.