April 20, 2012
Words by Ben Van Houten
We haven’t written a lot about hip hop for The Bay Bridged. Not for a lack of interest, mind you, but because I’ve never really felt like we had a real handle on emerging local stuff. Sure, we could write about how great E-40 is with our eyes closed, but do you need someone else telling you how great E-40 is? (If you do, then here’s a tip: pick up all three volumes of The Block Brochure. You won’t be disappointed. Seriously, it’s nuts how much quality music Earl Stevens has been putting out over the last several years.)
Several recent developments, however, have ignited a new interest in covering more Bay Area hip-hop within our virtual publication. For one, the rising star of Main Attrakionz, a group that serves as the common thread among many of the artists in this podcast mixtape (in addition to making several appearances themselves). Both as a duo and solo, Squadda B and MondreM.A.N. are talented and prolific, and their oft-languid flows serve as the ideal pairing for dense, spaced-out beats from inventive East Bay electronic outfits like Friendzone and Yalls.
While the artists on this tape hail from locations ranging from Vallejo to SF to San Jose, a vibrant Oakland scene is the nucleus for a lot of the sounds here. Nearby Berkeley, though, is the home of Lil B, perhaps the godfather of Internet-saturating, spacey rap weirdness, despite the fact that he’s only in his early 20s. I had casually dismissed B for a long time, only to be blindsided by his recent God’s Father mixtape, which becomes a more likely entrant in my top albums of the year with every listen. Of course, since it came out at the end of February, Brandon McCartney has already followed it up with two newer mixtapes.
The songs on this mixtape won’t surprise anyone who has been closely following Bay Area indie rap over the past few years, but for an indie rock fan who hasn’t been paying attention lately, like myself (until recently, anyway), it’s an entry point that should sell at least some of you on branching out beyond SF rock and roll. Indie rock will always be our bread and butter here, but this tape seemed like a departure well worth taking.