I can no longer stomach the qualitative conversation surrounding mediums—which is more effective, more comfortable, more user friendly. It benefits you to remove yourself from this conversation, to mind only a single difference: whether or not there is information available, whether or not it is true, and whether or not you’re digesting it, considering it, and using it to benefit the world to the best of your ability. User experience, user interaction—the people controlling these are the ones, knowingly or not, handling society’s reins. The conversation needs to move away from how the conversation is facilitated to what the conversation itself actually is. The Internet should no longer be the center of intellectual focus. Lets swing things back around to content.
The “user” needs to be empowered with the knowledge necessary to recognize the difference between information that is true and information that is untrue. They need to be able to see through design. Smarter, more accessible design, meant to coax users into making a choice beyond their understanding of the information — ie, advertising or UX — is in no way making the world a better place. Convincing a user to click is like casting a spell — hypnosis, animation, voodoo. Magic offers the illusion of change when there is none—and design, in the modern tech world, is little more than a “magical” (read: illusive) enterprise meant to conjure the hollow shell of impact without actually doing anything substantial.
So fuck design. Fuck readability. Fuck streamlining, ease of use, simplicity, elegance. All you need is the information. All you need is the ability to distinguish, to the best of your capacity, information based in reality from “information”. Learn who makes your apps and what they gain from your interaction and act accordingly. Stop making offerings to things you don’t want to support—and recognize that interaction, not money, is the preferred currency in our Information Age.
Arresting Developments, Developing Arrest (AKA I don’t know what to title this post about Arrested Development)
(Arrested Development spoilers imminent)
Despite my intent to finish the new season of Arrested Development in a single sitting, it took me a few days (seven on the first day, four on the second, and another four on the third) to manage my way through it.
Full disclosure: I very much so enjoyed it.
Further disclosure: I didn’t at first.
For some reason, towards the beginning the episodes don’t strike me as binge-ready as the first three seasons’ might have. They feel bloated and oddly paced, with patchy (and sometimes downright sloppy) editing. I couldn’t seem to get over how much its narrative seemed to rely on its narrator, and oftentimes I felt a bit overwhelmed, annoyed even, by the over-abundance of (what seemed like) lazy exposition.
I quickly wrote it off, chocking the dip in quality up to the lengthy recess between the two runs. Sure: a bit of rust is expected and forgivable when you’ve been away from your characters for such a long time, and if I had to guess, I’d say the hardest things to recreate, for a number of reasons (from changes in medium to changes in actors/crew), are also the most subtle: tone, pacing, something I’ll go ahead and call “comedic ambiance.” Which is challenging for a show like Arrested Development which, in its first run, was so celebrated for sweating (and nailing) the small stuff (hey that almost sounds like an Arrested Development joke).
And as such, when those first few episodes aired, and Ron Howard was explaining EXACTLY what was happening in the frame, and the music played loosely and pointlessly behind dialogue, it was hard to give Arrested Development the free pass you might allow a show with a less pitch-perfect reputation. Couple that with the nostalgia-factor and you have a recipe for disappointment. Oh, and Michael, who always served as the first show’s (relative) straight man and audience-ambassador, doing reprehensible things completely outside of his character in the first episode’s first few minutes (like living in his son’s dorm and trying to make-out all over Lucille 2), didn’t help matters much.
About halfway through, however, things started to click. As I became more and more privy to the context in which everything was taking, the viewing experience started to make sense. While show runner Mitch Hurwitz eventually cautioned against in, its easy to see why he once suggested the show could be watched completely out of order. Moments flesh themselves out organically, and the show stops feeling like a strange series of flashbacks and all-over-the-place exposition and more like a puzzle. It might be a bad analogy, but it’s not until the puzzle starts taking shape and we have a semblance of what the whole might eventually look like that we start enjoying the otherwise mundane task of piecing it together. With a better sense of the big picture, the original episodes are going to be a real treat on second viewing. Quality television has always rewarded viewers for a second watching (Twin Peaks comes immediately to mind). Groundbreaking television (in terms of interplay between medium and narrative) builds a show on it.
Even though its a continuation of the first three seasons, Season 4 very much so is a standalone effort. The characters are the same, but different — relying on preconceptions formed during your time with the original run will get you no where. Which I guess would be problematic if this were a normal TV situation. But it isn’t. It isn’t often six years, in real world AND narrative terms, pass between a show’s seasons, and that is certainly going to disrupt characters, both as they are perceived by the viewer, and as they have been written. I applaud the writers for remaining mindful of the sizable gulf of time and letting their characters duly unravel.
Watching the fourth season made me realize something about Arrested Development I hadn’t before: that its comedy and themes stem from a dichotomous matrix, with audience and “show” on one axis, and (mis)communication and perspective on the other. There’s definitely a long, complicated essay to be written about how Arrested Development is, more than anything, a modern parable for modern media: how muddled communication coupled with skewed perspective, on the part of both the actors involved in the drama and audience soaking it in, is our self-contrived achilles’ heel — and how its inevitable proliferation might be our impending, tragic downfall (consider all of those tongue-in-cheek but all too close-to-home references to politics and war and crony capitalism.) Luckily: Hurtwitz and gang seem to suggest that we can find it all uproariously ironic — if we (diligently, vigorously, sometimes even obsessively) both sweat the small stuff and maintain perspective.
Arrested Development has always been both stupidly ambitious and ambitiously stupid. This latest season is no different.
Grumbling about Into Darkness
(no real spoilers — but plenty of grumpy prattling.)
I just saw Star Trek: Into Darkness in IMAX3D at the Metreon in SF — the ideal set up for watching the New, Cool, Big-Budget Space Action Blockbuster, and as such, I went in excitedly, feeling as a kid might before he gets on Space Mountain at Disney Land (read: how I feel before getting on Space Mountain at Disney Land.)
Having recently re-watched the original Star Wars trilogy and a couple or so episodes of Star Trk: TOS, one might say that I’ve been priming myself for an adventure in space.
Which is what you expect, right, going into a Star Trek movie—an adventure! An epic sense of scale. The feeling that you’re along for the ride, Eureka! moments, maybe a bit of dread here and there. That unmistakably overwhelming gut-wrench of unexplored space.
So what the fuck is it, exactly, that I just sat through? There was no sense of adventure. It was a roller-coaster ride in the truest sense. Visually spectacular, visceral, but firmly stuck to the rails. It felt safe and ultimately boring. Even it’s emotional climax, despite solid acting all around, fell flat. The stakes were merely “raised” throughout by shallow cues. Instead of actually engaging the viewer’s gut, the film chooses instead to rely on a simplistic, I don’t know, visual/audial rhythm, knowing quite well that it’s audience is more than likely familiar with it based on their experience with any/every other movie ever. If things speed up and the music gets loud, the viewer gets excited. If things slow down and lush violins start to churn, things are probably getting somber.
This probably sounds a bit dumb, for a couple of reasons. You might be saying “but such is the nature of the language of film!” And well yeah, duh, obviously. I’m not saying that directors shouldn’t rely on obvious filmic conventions to convey emotion within their story. I mean, action scenes will always be fast-paced, and music is always going to surge in celebratory moments. I just think that the emotional core of a story — the part that makes a story memorable, that helps a person decide to invest in it, has to be based on more than a series of cheap visual tricks. The visual trickery should complement, or play vehicle to, things like world building and character development. Into Darkness had barely any of either.
The first act whizzed by. The second act started with seemingly good intentions, a conversation here and there, but quickly escalated into nothing but action. The third act was pure action, with a few somber moments here and there. I enjoyed myself, but a small part of me kept wondering just what the point of all of this was.
The second reason you probably think this argument is dumb is the same tired excuse: “it’s a dumb action movie, just let it be dumb.” I get what you’re saying, Straw Dog, but it’s not every day that a space epic gets a 190 million dollar budget. By god I want to feel the dark, deep, emptiness of space. I’m not talking 2001 level grandeur, but at least let the camera pan around a little more, turn the music down a bit. Let me soak this beautiful production design in. I want to see Captain Kirk spending time with the alien species from the first scene. I’d like to see how he acts, how the world acts. Help me feel like this is a living, breathing universe, and not just a place where explosions seem to constantly happen.
I’m sick of the Sci-Fi CGI spectacle and I want some sleight of hand. It’s probably in the editing more than anything. Moving from cut to cut to cut is cool in small doses, but too much of it, like turns on a roller coaster, makes me want to puke. Maybe I’m just an old man now. But space, as I said above, in all of its terrifying, vast, endless splendor, is awe inspiring in its own right — there’s no reason to have to resort to abusing visual artifice.
Cloud Atlas (impressions)
I finally got around to watching last year’s Cloud Atlas and I must say that, despite its lukewarm critical reception, I thought it was fantastic. It definitely has its share of structural problems and it moves a bit too fast at times, but you have to expect these kinds of things given the length and complexity of the novel its based on. There’s really no way it could have been done as anything but a standalone film. Then again, I haven’t read the book (yet?), but I don’t get the impression that the narrative could have survived being minced into episodes.
I can’t help but admire the film’s scope. The sheer number of narrative threads stretching throughout is impressive in its own right, but its the way those threads intertwine that really make this film something special. More than anything, Cloud Atlas is world-building at its most effective — by providing a general framework, the film shows instead of tells, amplifying the characters and their relationships, letting the viewer fill in the gaps. The result is epic in the truest sense of the word.
On top of everything, Cloud Atlas is eye candy from start to finish. Each narrative has its own stunning visual flourish, all of which help to quell motion sickness that might otherwise accompany the jumps. The science fiction enthusiast in me was immensely satisfied — say what you will about the Wachowski siblings, they know how to make a good looking film.
Most refreshingly, Cloud Atlas never tries to be anything more than a smart, enjoyable film. It completely eschews self-awareness, instead focusing exclusively on the film’s world and characters. The film illustrates that, In order to make things believable for the viewer, filmmakers must believe themselves. Sometimes, things get a little corny in Cloud Atlas. But that’s to be expected — and I won’t even say forgiven, because there’s nothing to forgive. I’d say that, in many cases, immersion, if it’s so sought, requires a bit of due diligence on the viewer’s part. The challenge is providing a solid framework (world-building, again) and motivating the viewer to take the leap.
Reeling in Infinity
A few rambly impressions of Bioshock Infinite
It’s been a few weeks since Bioshock Infinite found its way to gamer’s eyeballs and boy howdy has it caused quite the stir. The mainstream gaming media had nothing but the best things to say about the game and many, most even, already revere it as an obvious contender for 2013’s game of the year. Message boards and article comments have been brimming with the usual hyperbole, some zealous posters going as far as placing the game on the same plane as confirmed classics like Half Life 2 and Ocarina of Time. Comments like these, coupled with the aforementioned critical acclaim, piqued my interest.
Something else entirely, however, solidified my decision to buy Infinite: the critical conversation surrounding it. I usually try to remain privy to game criticism by reading through Critical Distance’s weekly compendium, following a few favorite writers on Twitter, and doing my best to frequent a few choice blogs. Every blockbuster release seems to stir things up to some extent in these communities and Infinite’s release caused one helluva ruckus.
The reason is obvious. Bioshock has always been catnip for “serious” game critics, not necessarily for flattering reasons. Not only does it present itself as a “smart” game, with overt “subversion” of autonomy and control in Bioshock 1 and attempts at historical/social commentary in Infinite, it very obviously wants, expects even, to be treated like a piece of art, or at least something “important”.
Many, including myself, take issue with this. This ostentatious presentation is the heart of the reason why people are up in arms about the violence in Infinite and less so about, say, Gears of War. It can prove itself a difficult tightrope to tiptoe: if game critics want games to be taken seriously as a medium why get so frustrated with a game that attempts to be serious or “artistic”?
It has to do with consistency. If you frame a game as thematically meaningful (i.e., there is a moral here, or a lesson to be learned), as Irrational has with Infinite, you need to make an effort to ensure the game in its entirety adheres to said themes. Using ludonarrative (instead of gameplay) as the primary vehicle for establishing these themes, is tricky. By explicitly suggesting a game’s themes, the ludonarrative, in place of pure cinematics (which Bioshock doesn’t really have), serves as something of a mission statement, whether the developer likes it or not. If the gameplay, in its immediacy, does not align with these stated themes, these themes are more or less negated. Which is the case with Bioshock. A classic case of Clint Hockin’s Ludonarrative Dissonance.
I believe establishing themes that center on Big Ideas like political philosophy and racial persecution requires use of ludonarrative at minimum. Metal Gear Solid manages to discuss Big Ideas only via extensive cut-scenes. Presenting an exploration of these ideas via Gameplay alone would probably require some external contextualization (that’s a different write up). That said, the problem with Bioshock Infinite, the source of the aforementioned dissonance, is in the gameplay itself. It’s violent for no reason other than stroking the visceral and entertaining the player. This is what sticks. Gameplay, control, immediate cause/effect — these are the most effective mechanisms for impacting a player. Infinite, in its narrow-sighted scurry towards “meaningful,” made the mistake of assuming presentation is paramount in achieving this end. Which isn’t right but not exactly untrue given the cirucmances of the gaming world nowdays.
Currently, games, for the most part, are considered as products, rather than as experiences. Games are given high ratings if they prove their worth. An 8 or 9 or 10 usually means “this game is worth your time and money. It is well made.” Well made is paramount, sure, if you’re talking about a cell phone or a laptop or a car, any tool, anything with implicit utility. And sure, well made matters in terms of a video game — but only when considered as an aspect of (or vehicle for) the entire experience. Narrative, and its implications, especially when offered up on a silver platter by a game’s designers, need to be taken into account when considering said game’s overall quality.
If a game, like Infinite boldly does, suggests—via design details any sophisticated critic should be privy to—that it’s an “important” experience, the stakes are higher than they’d otherwise be. Games don’t get a free pass just because they’re games. We’ve been giving them this leverage for long enough. If we want games to be taken seriously, as a medium, we need to change the way we consider them and offer our best scores to games that accomplish what they set out to accomplish, on the whole — rather than rewarding good-looking games that control well (a phone or a car can be good looking and control well) but are nonetheless ripe with thematic pretense.
We can’t use the excuse “games are games and that’s it!” anymore. We can’t focus entirely on presentation. We need to dig deep and consider games like we’d consider music albums, movies, documentaries and books — by taking the director/creator’s expressed creative intent into account and rating titles based on the degree to which they realize that intent.
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DISHONORED  consumer review/layout for imaginary magazine.
(screen peak): Antwon - End of Earth
Unsurprisingly, listening to Antwon’s fantastic new album, End of Earth, only seems to hint at what the rising East Bay rapper means to convey with his gauzy brand of hip-hop. As an album that eschews explicit expression for sake of something ambiguously layered and subversive, understanding EoE is matter of looking at the big picture while reading between the lines, urging its listeners to both zoom in on and dolly away from their preconceptions about what modern hip-hop is supposed to mean (if anything at all). Whether or not its intentional seems to defeat the purpose: Antwon has crafted and dropped something arresting, strange, and important.
Antwon’s most immediately striking quality is his flow, a sleepy-eyed tenor that manages to paint the Oakland native equal parts affable and unfettered, a slacker wiseman with a pronounced affinity for weed, women, and malt liquor. While the subject of EoE’s nine tracks rarely stray from details of his various sexual and chemical escapades, they nonetheless come off as intimate and sincere, a welcome divergence from contemporary hip-hop’s sloppy nihilism and ironic qualification, the novelty of which have well worn away and rusted. This isn’t party rap in the traditional sense, but it’s also a far cry from the wordy intellectualism that has long served as its most obvious alternative. Antwon manages to tap into a particularly genuine vein of grinning hedonism reminiscent of The Beastie Boys or MF Doom—he’s partying for all the right reasons.
It’s obvious that End of Earth is about more than the music itself—it’s about the process of putting an album together and distributing it in the twitter/tumblr/bandcamp era. The beats were produced by a number of promising local acts, curated (one would guess) by Antwon himself. Antwon has the wherewithal to move away from the mic for extended periods of time, letting his collaborators’ beats into the spotlight. Big Baby Gandhi’s “SITTIN IN HELL” is subtle, sunsoaked minimalism, the product of a beatmaker with a surgeon’s practiced sleight of hand. “GIVE ME MY $$$,” by Aj Suede, moans and churns like a melancholy memory, and Antwon gives it plenty of room to breathe. This is an artist that respects the hip-hop experience in its entirety. It’s less about swag—and all the unapologetic narcissism the term warrants and implies—and more about the collaboration, the smartly routed stream of consciousness, the finished product.
The album has a couple of small aesthetic flaws, sure, but in light of the album’s humble origin’s, these concerns are not only forgivable—they seem somehow irrelevant. End of Earth, in addition to being a fun collection of tracks, is vagrant proof that we live in a new world, one that ebbs and flows both a millisecond in front of and behind hip-hop, where tumblr posts make and break microcareers, where content is created and distributed as voraciously as it’s listened to—a world where something as seemingly flimsy as “social media capital” earns you the leverage necessary to put out something honest and uncompromised.
End of Earth is an album that needs to be heard and considered. As its title implies, the album coincides with the subtle dismantling and replacing of the traditional distribution terrafirma that artists have relied on for ages. We’ve gone ahead and replaced the earth with a complex spiderweb we like to call the internet. Though the strands are still relatively weak, they’re strengthening by the day—and burgeoning acrobats, like Antwon and the rest of the Nature Boy Gang, are using their tightrope savvy to make some really important art.
Fuck the message—all hail the medium.
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(screen peak): Another Take on a Dead Horse
The Unsystematic Dichotomy of Girls
The HBO show Girls and its showrunner Lena Dunham have been the subject of quite a bit of debate since its premiere last year. Supporters find the show sharp and relevant, an intelligent exploration of 20-something psychology and the absurdity of of privilege, while its detractors find it annoying and indulgent, a byproduct of exactly what it’s supposedly a satire of. I personally find it strange and irresistible, something important and worth watching, and — as long as I make a deliberate effort to separate my watching of the show from any of the commentary I’ve read (a difficult feat) — relatively easy to watch.
Supporters are quick to label Lena Dunham as something of a genius, which I can only understand after hearing her defend her work in interviews. That said, despite her astute observations during these interviews (and boy do they sound astute!), nothing contained within in the show itself has thus far suggested that Lena is capable of writing about anything but herself or that she’s arrived at any enlightened state about what it means to be an aspiring-fill-in-the-blank during young adulthood.
In fact, the show might be enjoyable because Lena Dunham’s writing is so impressionistic and bombastic, lacking in a morality, because it’s not really trying to say — or capable of saying — much of anything. In interviews, Ms. Dunham has always appeared confident in her understanding of what her work is supposedly reaching for, though it’s not a stretch to assume that this is something she’s arrived at, rather than deliberately set out to achieve in the first place. Which makes more sense to me. By merely airing, for one reason or another, Girls has managed to alter the critical context in which it’s considered. Something about the reflexivity of criticism, I guess.
Girls may not be the deliberately intelligent show many purport it to be, but I think it’s very funny all the same. In this YouTube video, British humorist Stephen Fry succinctly illuminates what he believes to be the cardinal difference between British and American comedy. American comedy tends to center on the the hipper-than-thou wise-ass, who resides either above or to the side of the context, providing commentary via subtle winks and eye-rolls. British comedy focuses on the shit out of luck nobody, who, wide-eyed and hopeful, makes embarrassing, awkward grasps at happiness and success in spite of it all. Girls, somehow, ends up being two things at once: a show about people in the latter camp who — due almost entirely to their sense of privilege — have convinced themselves that they’re of the former, and, paradoxically, a show about people in the former camp who — again due to their privilege — convince themselves that they’re of the latter. It’s bi-polar, it’s ambling, and it’s worth watching, if only to find out on which end of the aforementioned dichotomy Ms. Dunham, the writer, finds herself at series’ end.
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(screen peak): ZOMBIES ON THE TURF
Cloudhopping with Oakland’s Main Attrakionz
Photography by Ryan Young
[Published in the Nov/Dec Issue of Wonderland Magazine]
We’re at Sizzlers, sitting in a corner booth with a deteriorating linoleum table and sinking bench cushions. MondreM.A.N. and Squadda B, the blunted masterminds behind rapidly rising North Oakland act Main Attrakionz, are each expecting the neverending shrimp plate. We’re not quite in Oakland proper — we’re in San Leandro, CA, at the edge of Oakland’s southern border, a modestly populated industrial suburb framed by a trio of interstate freeways. Mondre is puffing on a slim vaporizer, brimming with hash oil, in cavalier disregard to what I’m assuming is Sizzler corporate policy. The management doesn’t seem to mind, or at least they’re pretending not to notice. It’s a delightfully absurd scene made weirder by a conversation that runs the gamut from Celine Dion to professional wrestling.
Squadda and Mondre have been good friends for a very long time (“since forever” they tell me), made readily apparent by a seemingly extrasensory chemistry. The pair often finishes one another’s sentences, casually volleying from conversation point to conversation point, usually without eye contact. There is an undeniable musicality to the discussion, a conversational rhythm and flow, all suggesting an unspoken — but nonetheless obvious — mutual reverence. They have a special relationship afforded by time and collaboration. It’s easy to imagine them in Squadda’s house, 13 years old and rapping through a buzzing karaoke machine. This chemistry is part of what makes their music so listenable. The rest, one might say, can be owed to the Cloud.
Characterized by an aesthetic that marries the reverb-drenched gauze of ambient music to the recognizable slap of an 808 (with a liberal helping of hyphy spooned in for good measure), “Cloud Rap” was contrived by music journalists attempting to put a neat, fashionable bow on output from artists like A$AP Rocky and MAz. The terminology is fair enough (there is a definitely what could be considered a “hazy” thread running through the majority of MAz’s work) but trying to sum the duo up with a buzzword seems to kind of miss the point. Mondre and Squadda center on a sensibility, sure, but they orbit spastically from that center in dazzling arcs, pumping out whatever music the moment inspires. “‘09 ‘10, ‘11, ‘12, we started with something there, we start over and over,” Squadda tells me over as the server sets down a refill of shrimp, “‘13 comes, we’re going to start a new thing again.”
The past couple of years have been extraordinarily busy for MAz. “No time to sleep,” Mondre says, “we have to keep moving.” Releasing more than half a dozen mixtapes since the beginning of 2011, MAz pride themselves on their ability to collaborate with anyone who’s interested, illustrated by a diverse array of artistic confederates. On the rapper front, they’ve worked with a star-studded cast of contemporaries, from Danny Brown to A$AP Rocky to Gucci Mane. They also maintain working relationships with a number of rising producers, like Detroit’s SKYWLKER, the Bay Area’s Friendzone, and New Jersey’s Clams Casino.
After a few plates of shrimp, we head to Mondre’s house, and Squadda talks me through several of his favorite projects and collaborations.
July 2009 - “Zombies on the Turf”
“We had a mixtape, dropped in 2010, called Zombies on the Turf Featured a bunch of people. We had Monsta, Lil B, Lolo, Velocity, lots of the Green Ova crew, some outside features. It was our first mixtape to be released online. We released it on a Myspace, trying to do things right. “
May 2009 - “Shining Everytime” Music Video
Clams [Casino] did the beat, we actually shot the video on my 18th birthday. We were just fooling around, people liked the song, one of Clams more upbeat beats, he doesn’t make beats like that anymore, so we were glad to get that motherfucker. “
March 2010 - “Back on Deck” Music Video
“With that video, it was kind of like our first one to get picked up by websites, before ‘Legion of Doom’ and ‘Shining Everytime’. Websites started fucking with us, they liked that shit. “
May 2010 - “Legion of Doom” Music Video
“We had fun with the song and the video. We never took that shit serious. We were making beats at my house and I sent it to DigitalDripped.com, and the dude there, he hit me back, told me ‘hey this shit is hard.’ It was a different response than I usually get, so we ended up doing a video for it and it took the fuck off.”
July 2011 - “Perfect Skies” Music Video
We did that at the producer’s house, they’d never shot a video before, so they had a lady come and help out. It actually turned out real, real good which was a huge surprise. I didn’t know how that was going to turn out but I’m really happy with what we got.
October 2011 - “Swaggin’ Hard” performance at Fader Fort
“We did hell of performances the whole week, we were tired as fuck, but we had fun with that shit. We met hell of rappers. Really cool seeing that shit get up on Vevo. Coolest thing about that performance in particular was that Gangsta Boo from Three 6 Mafia was watching in from the side.”
August 2011 - “Take 1” feat. A$AP Rocky, from 808s & Dark Grapes II
“A$AP and us had shit to do with each other, he was hitting me up through email and shit. Wanted to know if we wanted to get down with him, and we were like ‘hell yeah.’ We did that shit quick, a couple months later he got the huge record deal. We ended up meeting him right about when he was releasing a mixtape and shit. He sent the beat and we rapped over it — at that point he was just anybody, someone we were working with on the internet and shit. That’s how it all works these days, big things happen over the internet.”
August 2011 - “Bossalinis & Fooliyones Pt. 2”, from 808s & Dark Grapes II
“I think [ambient folk musician] Glasser reached out and asked us to remix her. I gave the mission to our man AHYVE and he did a hell of a job. He’s the guy who directs most of our videos. Gave him the sample and he went crazy with it. [Glasser and MA] went through our people and shit. I wasn’t sure at the beginning, I was like man I don’t know about this, but I’m really happy with what happened. They wanted us to remix the song, but we’ve got a method you know, don’t really remix, so we ended up using the sample and everyone ended up really happy with it.”
Feb 2012 - “Chandelier” SKYWLKR remix
“SKYWLKR is Danny Brown’s producer from Detroit. Whole project was about getting producers who worked with us to remix songs they liked. I like this track just as much if not more than the original — people at Green Ova were really liking that shit. It’s got a whole new sound, a whole new thing.”
October 2012 - “Do it For the Bay” Music Video, track off Bossalinis & Fooliyones
10) The video was crazy. We did it on a boat and it was cold as shit. Took the entire day The video was cool, on some major label shit. We always had “Do it For the Bay”, we always had that song on lock. Still though, it was one of the last songs we recorded for the project and it ended up real cool.
Artistically, MAz float from approach to approach, drawing from a variety of potent sources: the music they enjoyed growing up, the Bay Area’s unique rap history, the ever-shifting rhythm of their contemporaries. “As far as the present time and day, we’re inspired by all the rappers we meet. That shit will motivate you. I met the Mob Figaz, I hooked up with Lil B and shit, that feel like motivation,” Squadda says, smiling as he shakes his head in disbelief, “These niggas giving me pointers and shit, that shit is inspiring, you know what I mean?” This is not an act that has settled on a sound. MAz precipitates genre-defining material that is refreshingly one step ahead, music that’s the byproduct of raw intuition — not preconceived methodology or artistic dogma. “I’ll choose a sample if its beautiful,” Squadda tells me in Mondre’s living room, “beautiful like a lady.”
Main Attrakionz’s debut album, Bossalinis and Fooliyones, is slated to drop on October 22nd. It’s a significant milestone, but the duo remains astutely levelheaded about their place in the notoriously fickle rap game. “In life, there are no absolutes,” Squadda says, Mondre nodding in agreement, “we’re just happy to be where we’re at.”
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It is late Sunday and the world is warm. Some idle hum fills the air. Ambient electronic murmurings—our chirping birds.
Somewhere nearby, I can sense a window inching open.
Now to find it.