Main Attrakionz break down their new album, “808s & Dark Grapes III.”
Four summers ago, Squadda B and Mondre Man hit pay dirt with 808s & Dark Grapes II, a tape with a reputation that would very quickly outgrow its Kanye-referencing name. The duo, known collectively as Main Attrakionz, had noticeably progressed beyond the series’ first installment, honing an ethereal, blunted sound with a handpicked roster of fairly unknown producers. It, along with tapes from A$AP Rocky, SpaceGhostPurrp and Lil B, became a cult favorite in the then-burgeoning genre coined “cloud rap,” one of the first rap subgenres to emerge almost entirely online.
Since then, most parties involved in that wave have moved onto different sonic territory. Rocky notched commercial success and then took his codeine-crazed psychedelia even further down the rabbit hole, Purrp all but disappeared from the rap game, and Lil B carved out his own based lane. The Attrakionz, on the other hand, seemed much more tied to the sound, leaving it largely intact on their 2012 debut album, even when it was Zaytoven producing for them. A smattering of subsequent mixtapes and EPs followed, but we were all waiting on the next 808s, which finally arrives today.
Partnering up with Friendzone, a production duo also from the Bay who did some work on on 808s II, for the entire project, Mondre and Squadda return with 11 effortlessly cool tracks. We got a chance to speak with them over the phone about the new project, so read the review below. Stream 808s & Dark Grapes III at the bottom of the page, and preorder it on iTunes.
HNHH: Squadda, Mondre, what’s good guys?
Squadda: It’s a blessing to have y’all rocking with us.
HNHH: It’s been four years since the last 808s, and a couple since your last project— have you been working on this for a whole year?
S: Aw man, two years. We’ve been working on it a few years. When did we first work with Friendzone? 2011?
Mondre: Yeah, 2012 we started working on it.
HNHH: So why did it take so long to put this one out?
S: Just deciding what platform we wanted to use, what songs… just trying to figure the whole image of it, because it’s not just your normal Main Attrakionz record. We did it with Friendzone, so we wanted it to be the best for all four of us, make everybody satisfied. Make it more accessible for the fans.
HNHH: So what did you end up deciding?
S: We’re on Vapor Records for this one, it’s coming out on iTunes, coming out Amazon, we’ll have a physical release in certain stores.
HNHH: And that’s Neil Young’s record label? How’d that end up happening?
M: Yes sir.
S: Man, they got good hearts, they just wanted to help us out, wanted to get us in stores.
HNHH: What’s your working relationship with Friendzone like? You guys first linked up for 808s 2?
S: Yeah, first time was 808s 2 and… shit.
M: Hell yeah, they did some of the songs on there.
HNHH: And those are still some of my favorite Main Attrakionz tracks… “Chuch,” “Perfect Skies.” You guys also did “Summa Time” together a couple years back, which i was thrilled to see made the 808s 3 tracklist.
S: Damn [laughs] well I was about to say “you’re gonna love 808s 3” but you already heard it. Fans were asking for it so we just gave it to ‘em.
HNHH: How did you initially meet Friendzone?
S: Internet. Twitter. Yeah, they hit us up, just saying they loved our sound and shit, loved what we were doing. So we was like, ‘Ay, let’s fuck around and meet up with them.’ We were kinda younger back then, but i’m glad we took the risk to meet up with them.
HNHH: With that in mind, do you think you’ve matured or progressed at all on the new album?
S: Yeah, if you listen to 808s 3 you’re definitely listening to Main Attrakionz, but if you compare these songs to our other songs, you’ll see the difference.
M: Yeah we kinda took it a little more serious as a group when we were recording it, trying new styles, trying new song structures, new shit. This is just the result of that, we’re just gonna keep on running with this new shit.
HNHH: On songs like “Cycles” and “My Story” you get a little deeper and share your interesting, positive outlooks on life— was that a goal of yours this time around?
S: Yeah, I feel like it was just what we caught with that moment in time. With a bunch of songs, we were just trying to keep it cool, speak our minds, so that’s what came out. That’s just how we were living and shit, we were just trying to keep the music sounding good, and make the most of this place while we’re there.
HNHH: How many tracks did you start out with? Did you have to narrow it down a lot?
M: Fuck yeah. Shit, we wanted to make it a triple disc album at one point.
S: Yeah, they wasn’t going for that. They said, “Hell nah,” but it’s down now.
HNHH: Is that a Rick James sample on “Summa Time”?
S: Well we got that shit from Three 6 Mafia, but it definitely does trickle down to Rick James.
S: Man, he still has family out here trying to get that money, right? I’m pretty sure we credited him.
HNHH: I also got kind of a Japanese vibe from a few of the tracks, do you think that was Friendzone’s intention?
S: Definitely Friendzone. That’s what they’re about. When you get two groups working together, you get new influences, new sounds. It’s definitely a good tag team battle.
HNHH: Going back to when you first linked up when them, you guys were lumped in with the “cloud rap” movement. Were you okay with that?
S: Yeah it was funny, on some blog shit. We saw our music on the blogs, they called it cloud rap, we took that title and ran with it. And we still got it. We coming for more titles though, we want it all. We want everything.
HNHH: What was it like being part of one of the first big waves of rap that took off on blogs?
S: Shit, you had to see it. We got used to it, listened to some of the rest of it, but at the end of the day it was just kids in a room making music getting responses and having fun with it.
M: You know, anytime we’d read anything about ourselves we’d laugh, never cried… but it’s fun for anyone young to deal with the love and the hate [online].
HNHH: To me, your music has proven pretty influential to other artists. Have you noticed that at all?
S: I don’t really look for that type of shit, but I will say this: it’s easier to get on the radio with the type of shit that we were doing, so that’s cool. I haven’t really seen our influence on anyone else, but I hear certain shit that sounds like shit we were making, on the radio back-to-back. Like man, I don’t even wanna say Schoolboy Q, it ain’t no diss or nothing. But hearing “Studio” man… it goes, and people ready for it. You know, I respect everybody who holds it down, whoever sounds like us or whatever we sound like. They perfected whatever we did, it’s cool. It makes things a little more open, people will be able to accept the real heat. Back then, it may have been a problem because they weren’t used to hearing it, but now that people hear it from the more “up there” stars, all the upper people rap over the type of stuff we rap on, that’s the best thing that could happen.
HNHH: Yeah, it was crazy to hear Friendzone wind up on A$AP Rocky’s album.
S: Yeah! The “Fashion Killa” with Rihanna in the video, it was popping with the shits, they go crazy for it! Everyone’s pushing the sound, everyone’s pushing the movement. We ain’t got nothing to do with that, it’s just the world coming to a better place. It’s like coming into contact with another race of people that you’ve never really seen or met before, now that there’s more and more and more coming out, people are being a little more accepting, you know?
HNHH: Yeah, it’s been amazing to hear that transition in the mainstream. So once the album’s out, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Touring?
S: Yeah. We got hella shows, we’re just focusing on putting together these shows and getting our faces out there more. We’re putting on the best shows we’ve ever done— I feel like I’m focusing more on shows than the music now.
HNHH: Are Friendzone coming out?
S: For a few of them, not on the East Coast though. You’ve gotta really rally for Friendzone to come out, you gotta make noise. Then they’ll come out the shell.
HNHH: Well that’s about all I’ve got. Stay spectacular and debonaire!
M: HotNewHipHop, we appreciate y’all.