Hip hop boils music down to two basic elements: voice and rhythm. And over the years those elements have been blended by mad scientists, producing compound sounds as varied as those making the music. We’ve heard instrumental hip hop (RJD2 for example) and now, with Oakland, California-based Main Attrakionz, do we have rhythmless hip hop? That’s not to say these guys don’t have beat, just that instead of a big club-shaking thump or gritty urban punch, Main Attrakionz gives angularity to their rhythms, allowing interesting stops and starts and building intriguing dead ends.
The duo’s sound is DIY, almost entirely synthetic, samples and loops that could easily be produced in a bedroom (and sound like it too). Overall the mood is that of their native California, like on “Perfect Skies,” featuring a soulful chorus and laid-back feel ideal for cruising the 101 with the top down. Almost spacey at times (imagine Dr. Dre on codeine), Main Attrakionz picks a woozy cough syrup haze over the frenetic hyphy sound of the Bay—evoking sunny So-Cal, or the slow moving, sun-baked south.
Main Attrakionz comes out of the same scene as A$AP Rocky and Odd Future, a movement breathing new life into underground hip hop; but as opposed to the sociopathic Odd Future or macho A$AP, Main Attrakionz stays cool and at times almost positive. Lyrically, Main Attrakionz aren’t exactly expanding hip-hop’s palette (niggas, bitches, world tours) and their rhymes are definitely explicit. But after a decade or so of “conscious hip hop” making rap safe for the suburbs, it’s good for rap to be “dangerous” again — a word rock ‘n’ roll forgot about a long time ago.
Main Attrakionz play with Roach Gigz 9 pm Friday, Sept. 28, at WOW Hall; $10 adv., $12 door.