Main Attrakionz are leaders of the cloud rap movement, but take a close listen to the Bay Area duo’s debut album, Bossalinis And Fooliyones, and you’ll hear a broad collection of rap influences. So Hive called up Squadda B and Mondre M.A.N. and asked them to break down the inspiration behind rapped references to U.G.K.’s legacy, the Wu-Tang Clan‘s ’90s movement, and witnessing the shenanigans at Danny Brown‘s birthday party.
The song “L.F K.” starts out as a tribute to U.G.K. Can you remember the first time you came across U.G.K.’s music?
Squadda B: Yeah, one of the first videos I can ever remember watching was for “Wood Wheel.” Out here they had something called Box Music TV and you could call in and they’d play your song. They played “Wood Wheel” and that’s the first video I could ever remember. Just seeing that shit – besides 8Ball & MJG – started this shit for me. [Pauses.] I don’t know, they always touched me, man. It’s crazy. I don’t even know n*ggas who saw the “Wood Wheel” video! I mean, I was only young but I remember that shit vividly! For me to be a U.G.K. fan at like six years old, that’s something.
What do you remember liking most about the “Wood Wheel” video?
Squadda B: Man, I mean, I remember it was real cold and blurry and there was a lot of old men wearing nice shades looking real country but at the same time it was like players. What else do I remember about that shit? Those motherfuckers was really cold! But the main thing I remember was [Pimp C saying] “million dollar deals” the way he was saying that shit. It was slow; it wasn’t hella gangsta and fast, like that “Toss It Up” 2 Pac-type shit and “How Do You Want It.” “Wood Wheel” was something slow you could bounce to it.
Mondre M.A.N.: We call ourselves the Best Duo Ever but U.G.K. was definitely one of the duos we looked up to and felt like that was our competition. And also I feel that way about The Clipse. U.G.K. and Clipse was our competition. R.I.P. to Pimp C.
You mention Clipse’s song “Grindin’” on “L.F.K.” too.
Mondre M.A.N.: Yeah, the first song we rhymed over in a studio was “Grindin’.” I also remember I was like 11-years-old and that’s when the whole making-beats-on-the-table thing was going on at school. It was table beats. One of my friends would start making that beat by banging on the table and we’d freestyle. You’d hear that “Grindin’” beat and people would rap. It was like the beginning of what’s going on for us now.
Going back to U.G.K., what was it about Bun B and Pimp C’s chemistry that worked so well?
Mondre M.A.N.: I bought they album Dirty Money and that shit was crazy. People say Ridin’ Dirty and Too Hard to Swallow are the ones, but I don’t know none of those albums but Ridin’ Dirty. That was my favorite besides the last one, U.G.K. 4 Life. Besides the fact that they produced all this shit, it was just Pimp C’s voice — he was a real opinionated ass rapper — and Bun B was more like a rapper’s rapper, the one who’d kill you with the bars and kill you with the flow and kill you with the structure. He’ll rap his ass off. Pimp was more like giving you that nasty vibe and Bun was just rapping his ass off. You could tell [Pimp] wasn’t trying to impress nobody. You were sucked in by Pimp C and then it’s like here comes Bun [raps fast in a Bun B style]!
The first track on the album, “Green On Sight,” gives a shout-out to the Wu-Tang Clan. Were they much of an inspiration to you?
Squadda B: Fuck yeah! I seen a video with the bees — I think it was “Reunited” — and I didn’t really like that shit, but when I saw the video for “Protect Ya Neck: The Jump Off” and they was in the Adidas suits and dancing in the clubs and shit, I was in love with the shit! And Ghostface with the “Cherchez La Ghost” and Supreme Clientele album! I’m actually about to do a song with Inspectah Deck and Allah Mathematics these next couple of days.
Mondre M.A.N.: Wu-Tang is, like, our motivation. We’re Green Ova, so that’s why I said Wu-Tang, Mob Figaz, No Limit and the old-school Cash Money. I do not have favorite rappers — I was a fan of movements. When you see people who grew up together and they make it and they stick together, that’s a strong movement. Wu-Tang is here today. I actually met the GZA; he’s real good people. I ran into Raekwon; he was cool too. It’s just the movement and what they stood for. Everybody did solos too, kinda like how we’re moving now.
You said you don’t have favorite rappers, but which members of the Wu did you like best?
Mondre M.A.N.: You know, I dig Method Man, and RZA actually doing movies and shit, I’m motivated by that. Ghostface got dolls and shit, like toys of him, so it’s like, “Goddamn, man!” Nobody else can do what they did. That shit was just crazy though.
How did the song you have coming up with Inspectah Deck happen?
Squadda B: We met the GZA a year ago out in Texas. GZA is cool people. I guess they reached out to the label – I think it was the Allah Mathematics guy — and they initiated it and asked if we wanted to do a song. I was like, “Hell fuckin’ yeah!” You fuck with a label and shit and I guess these things happen.
What was it about the early version of Cash Money that you admired?
Mondre M.A.N.: I actually love the South. I ain’t gonna lie: Big Tymers Got That Work and B.G.’s Checkmate was the first CDs I ever walked into the store and bought. Them n*ggas made me wanna rap. They had the gold in they mouth and the bling bling and the cars; it was a real flashy good lifestyle but you figure out where they came from and how they had to grind and they lost a lot of people to get to where they got to… You know, free B.G. and Turk coming home soon! They was moving as a family though. It was only ever theMondre M.A.N.: Birdman, Mannie Fresh, B.G., Lil Wayne, Juvenile and Turk. It you bought all they old-school albums they never really had features on them from anyone else, and all the beats were by Mannie Fresh. Just like a real team they was going to the championships and they did.
“Sex In The City” starts out talking about Danny Brown’s birthday party. What do you remember about that?
Squadda B: [Laughs.] I was high as fuck! It was cool. The party was actually better than the song! I fuck with Danny Brown. That was the first dude to really get behind us and support us visibly and publicly. A lot of rappers know us but they ain’t giving us nothing — they won’t go out there and say it – but Danny Brown’s a real dude period.
Mondre M.A.N.: Man, shout out to Danny Brown. That’s when we was out at South-by-South-West. We had a ball, I ain’t gonna lie. It was poplin’ bottles and we actually had a show that night too. It was a real good night, man. That’s all I can say, man! We enjoyed ourselves; we really enjoyed our shit. And like the song says, Danny Brown did have those freak hoes with him!
That song also talks about “snatchin’ models with Das Racist.”
Mondre M.A.N.: Yep, that was that same night. We was doing like three shows a night, so after Danny Brown we had to get with Das Racist. They wasn’t even performing but they showed love and came on stage and rocked with us. Shout out to Kool AD.
Squadda B: Yeah, shout-out to Das Racist. We got off the stage and we were performing and we came to the club with them. We pulled up with one girl that we just met, but while we was on stage performing there was this nasty young lady with a nose ring right there. We start talking for five minutes. Then she went with Das Racist. I almost had it crushed! Almost!
On “La Piñata” Squadda mentions a tattoo that says “The World Is Yours.” Is that inspired by the Nas song?
Squadda B: You know what’s funny? You can say that, and at the time I listened to that song all the time, but I saw Scarface way more times than I heard the song. I always liked the Nas song — the song is definitely an ill song so it definitely has something to do with me getting it — but I wouldn’t say it was the sole reason. I’d say Scarface had way more influence ’cause he influenced Nas to do that shit.
If you had been Scarface, what would you have done differently?
Squadda B: I wouldn’t have been on all that coke! I ain’t never lived like that in far as how big he was and how much money he was making, so who knows what I’d do, but if he wouldn’t have been doing all the drugs and slowed his roll a bit… He was too wired and too rich. He’ll snap on a n*gga any second. I feel like I would have been a little slower. He was moving way too fast; he was speeding faster than the cars he was driving. I’d have been slower. I’d have been fuckin’ with the syrup shit, I wouldn’t have fucked with that coke shit.
The song “Cloud Life” opens with a shout-out to 2Pac.
Mondre M.A.N.: Yeah, actually we was in San Francisco when we recorded that song and our engineer said ‘Pac recorded in the studio too. That’s a blessing. I’ve seen videos in our ‘hood at the Golden Gate Park where ‘Pac’s rolling a blunt 101, you feel me? He was sitting down on the bleachers telling everybody how to roll a blunt. So when I heard he was in the studio, I felt the spirit.
Do you think you’d have gotten a chance to collaborate with ‘Pac if he was still around now?
Mondre M.A.N.: Man, I feel like what I would want to think is we’d already have a song, like he was just now beginning to hear about us. I feel like we’d have been ran into him though. [Pauses.] The Bay would have been different if he was here. The West Coast as a whole would have been different if 2Pac was alive.