MAIN ATTRAKIONZ with TOMMY KRUISE and DJs ITSMATTLANGILLE and PATRICK McGUIRE at the Blk Box Theatre (1087 Queen West), Friday (February 22), doors 9 pm. $18. PDR, RT, SS. See listings.
It might be Main Attrakionz' first full-length on a proper label, but don't call Bossalinis & Fooliyones (Young One) their debut album. For the past few years, Mondre M.A.N. and Squadda Bambino have released a steady stream of mixtapes that would make most MCs look lazy in comparison.
"I don't look at it like it's a debut," says Mondre over the phone from his home in Oakland, California.
The rap duo's breakthrough was 2011's 808s & Dark Grapes II, released for free online by New York City streetwear brand Mishka. Featuring the A$AP Rocky-assisted Take 1 ("I knew he was going to be a superstar before he was," Mondre says), the mixtape's lo-fi beats and hazy rhymes drew praise from critics, who were quick to tag their sound "cloud rap."
Some rap aficionados have scoffed at that term, which is characterized by dreamlike beats, heavy use of the 808 drum machine and chopped-up vocal samples, but it's a description the duo have embraced wholeheartedly, both figuratively and literally.
"Cloud rap is going to be the legacy," says Mondre. "The term is going to stick with us whether we like it or not. We were starving, and now we're hopping on planes, up in the clouds."
They graduated from recording in their bedrooms to a proper studio for last year's Bossalinis & Fooliyones, which features beats from rising producers Harry Fraud, Supreme Cuts and Zaytoven. The latter also hooked up the duo with Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane, who contributed a guest verse to Superstitious.
While the process wasn't without its growing pains - clearing samples, dealing with promoters and increased media attention - Mondre sees the album as a "power play move" and a springboard for bigger and better things for the duo, for himself (both members produce and have released solo albums) and for their Green Ova crew, whose members have known each other since high school.
"We were raised on [the idea of] being independent," says Mondre of the Bay Area's music scene, home to veteran rappers like E-40 and Too $hort. "We're still out here grinding, and everybody's got to eat."