Characterized by ghostly vocal samples, clattering drums and a low-fidelity sound, the style a handful of bloggers and scene wonks have dubbed “cloud rap” has become a refreshingly new production language in hip-hop. Borne out of the woozy, codeine-infused style of DJ Screw, its fans include some of rap’s biggest young MCs (A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller) as well as underground labels such as Type, who put out a vinyl release from cloud rap linchpins Main Attrakionz last year. Now Attrakionz – the duo of Squadda B and Mondre M.A.N. – are heading into mainstream consciousness with this impressive debut album.
The stylistic touchstone could be the chorus of Nas’s “Life’s A Bitch,” with its singsong delivery and lyrics about a hand-to-mouth existence on the street. There is a lot of talk of small-time hustling, making cash, spending it, getting high, getting laid on Bossalinis. “On Tour” sees Mondre “fucking up a lot of money” and finally crooning “I’m poor.” It’s about as far from Rick Ross as it’s possible to get, compounded by the fact the track’s producer has the decidedly low-rent moniker of Uptown Greg.
Their psychedelic, out-of-tune flow is similar to that of fellow Oakland native Lil B, and when they multi-track their detuned vocals into chorus lines, as on album highlight “Bury Me A Millionaire,” the effect is jarring and eerily beautiful. The production is just as colorful, with rave pianos and old-school snares threaded through more echoing moments. The overall result is a kind of 21st-century G-funk: Grey Goose may have replaced Tanqueray of the liquor of choice, but this evokes the California of pre-fame Snoop, full of casual sex, cheap thrills and, yes, clouds of weed smoke.