I’ve been a fan of the Main Attrakionz for a while now, and I’ve probably heard just about everything they’ve done in the last few years. So I can say with a fair amount of confidence – 808s & Dark Grapes II is their best release to date. Chandelier was very close, they’ve been on a roll this year in general, but this one beats all.
As per the group’s manager, the album was recorded and mastered at SWTBRDS studios, one of the group’s first ventures in making music beyond the confines of their bedrooms. The difference is noticeable. While some of their trademark lo-fi griminess was regrettably sacrificed, the polish and professionalism on display here more than make up for it. Growth and evolution is evident at every turn. In contrast to murky vocals previously buried deep within the mix, Mondre and Squadda come to the forefront with deeper focus and an intensified sense of purpose. Their lyrics are aspirational, but in a pragmatic and grounded kind of way. They don’t yearn for trappings of wealth, at least not explicitly. They’re just happy to be here, alive and doing well with their music, and they want to keep progressing.
Fitting with the theme of putting MAz first and foremost, the album has only guest MC feature, a strong turn from NY’s ASAP Rocky who effortlessly falls in step with the group’s dynamic. The collaboration makes for one of the album’s strongest tracks. I’m trying hard to hold back on hyperbole, but Nighttime Vultures keeps creeping into my head as a point of comparison/reference.
The production here deserves a special mention too, as it’s some of the best I’ve heard all year (aside from G-Side’s The One… Cohesive album.) As expected, several of the beats are Squadda’s own. Frequent Green Ova collaborators Clams Casino, Keyboard Kid, Silky Johnson, AHYVE and Friendzone all join in, along with some who are new to me. And they all come correct. Georgio MoMurda deserves some kind of award for on “Mondre Mo Murda”, the switch that happens in the middle of this song is just incredible.
In a way, 808s & Dark Grapes II might be the album I’ve been waiting for these guys to make this whole time. Which isn’t meant to imply their previous work was sub par, quite the opposite. It’s just that none of it managed to capture the talent and potential Main Attrakionz have so consistently, and present it as well as this one.