You know what this record lacks? Ambition. You know what this record has in refreshing proportions? Ambition. Bossalinis and Fooliyones signals the arrival of a new era in hip hop. MondreM.A.N. and Squadda B have set aside the archetypal hip hop formula of the last 10 years, and opted for something different. That difference is not resolved entirely on this record, but the groundwork is laid. For those who can understand how to listen, this groundwork of 17 tracks is thoroughly threaded with wise veins of gold quietly seething beneath the seemingly disaffected surface. If you really wanna understand Bossalinis and Fooliyones, and not just hear the most recent internet phenom rap release you just have to listen a little closer, and take account of the circumstances of the artists at work.
I’ll be honest I was a little let down when I heard the record. There are definitely a few standouts (Cloud Body, Take You There, Superstitious,and On Tour for sure), but I was hoping for a record full of songs that would hit me like Bossalinis and Fooliyones off of 808s. Instead my first reaction was that the record was slightly uninspired. I’ve been around these guys enough that I know what they’re capable of, and I just didn’t feel like they were living up to what they could have done in terms of making really engaging music. And then I asked myself, “Well if it isn’t a record full of the most heated bangers these dudes ever made, then what are they doing with Bossalinis and Fooliyones?” It’s not that they’re doing the opposite of the status quo, but they’re pulling in a different direction.
Main Attrakionz are telling us to slow down on Bossalinis and Fooliyones. But then, they’re not so much telling as doing. And they’re not even explicitly doing, as a lot of what they address is the fast life ambition that has come to dominate the collective imagination of our nation. We live in times where if you can’t get free, you’ll never really be free. Thusly, for everyone who is not fortunate enough to live a silver spoon life, it is only imagination paired with diligent action that can set you free. And while Main Attrakionz may not present themselves as diligent hardworking revisionists, that is exactly what they are. What you hear on Bossalinis and Fooliyones is as much about what you don’t hear, as it is what you do hear.
The means by which we know rap, the conditions which we know to produce rap music are outdated. We are still holding to the imagery of a bygone era. We are not in a nation of untold opulence for which there is no end. We are in a nation with a broken infrastructure, for which there is a definitive and unsatisfactory end. To be frank, Squadda and Mondre reside in the premonition of that end. Perhaps today you feel comfortable at your job, comfortable and secure with your place in life, but that could end at any minute. Natural disasters, corporate fallout, financial meltdown, and inflation leave us all at risk. At any moment we could all find ourselves “slipping through the cracks”. And when that happens? What good are songs about living in mansions, driving expensive cars which run on rarified fuel, and celebrations of accumulated capital? What Main Attrakionz offer is a look inside the lives of two young men who are surviving by the means made available to them, and doing it with grace. They make living by the seat of your pants seem cool, when really it’s daunting. They serve as exemplars for all of us going through the same circumstances in life as waiters, plumbers, bankers, delivery drivers, dog groomers, drug dealers, sales men and women, designers, and so on. For all of us living in these times, and experiencing the hardships of it, the Main Attrakionz show how you can still make so much out of so little, that it changes everything.
If you were to pose the question, “What do Main Attrakionz rap about?” You wouldn’t get a satisfactory answer. That’s because that’s a one dimensional inquiry into an incredibly dynamic artistic process. That would be like saying, “What did Rauschenberg collage about?” You’d get a laughable answer every time. To treat rap as you might treat any other genre of music is to miss half of the point. Because while rap is in one part the engaging and appreciable arrangement of sounds it is also largely dependent on words. And words of course, carry meaning. But unlike other forms of music the words in rap are not meant to be taken as Picasso’s brush strokes would be. The words are not the locust of emotion and the means by which the artifact is rendered. In rap music words are the residue of experience, and testament as much as they are the lyrics of a song. Just as Keith Herring’s markings on walls cannot be read as paintings on canvas, the Main Attrakionz’s markings in words cannot be read as lyrics of songs.
The conceptual leap here is incredibly vague, and it requires running through fog to leap across an invisible void where you land on an unknown plane. However, those are the steps that these fine young gentlemen have taken. Through rap they have found a way to depict their lives, and share the fundamental essence of both their experiences, and the insights they’ve gained of those experiences. It would be foolish to try and classify what they do as some new kind of artform. But what they have done is discover a way to approach the production of media that relies on familiar artforms and creates an experience that is incredibly apt for our times. Through videos, recorded materials, and performances of all sorts the Main Attrakionz create an experience that is familiar through the guise of rap music, but it’s gone deeper than we’ve ever known rap to go.
So, it’s no surprise that this record was not what I expected. When you approach the depths of human experience as these gentlemen do, you cannot expect to walk away with something as familiar as an A+ record. The sounds could not possibly be so familiar that I as the audience could understand them to be marvelous because these sounds have come from the depths of a story that is as yet untold. A story that is not mine or familiar. However, it is obvious that these sounds are accurate and do indeed represent something untold, while clearly resonating with something very familiar. What Main Attrakionz have done on Bossalinis and Fooliyones may not make sense to you now. But I promise that over time, as you come back to this record, as the world will change around us, this record will stand out as our first indication of something wholly different.