STRAIGHT OUTTA B-TOWN: THE EVOLUTION OF THE CATARACS

When I was in college at UCLA, my roommate Garrett put me up on The Cataracs via their CD Technohop Volume 1. At the time they had a regional hit with The Pack called “Blueberry Afghani,” their T-Pain remix “I’m In Love With a Swisher” was buzzing, and Garrett was a particular fan of “Red Light Bandits.” I was interested enough to check out their next offering, Technohop Vol. 2, and became hooked on the whole CD (I literally just downloaded it again, and it hasn’t lost it’s luster). Below is a lighthearted track off that 2007 project called, “Jeans.”

STRAIGHT OUTTA B-TOWN: THE EVOLUTION OF THE CATARACS

The “Technohop” title was more indicative of how their sound would evolve, than it was a descriptor of these first two projects. For those of you who know The Cataracs only as a pop powerhouse, they started out rapping. Cyrano/Niles and Campa/David rap now too I suppose, but they did so more earnestly back in 2006 and 2007. They were associated with the hyphy movement via collaborations with The Pack, Mistah Fab, Droop-E and others, but had a distinct sound due in part to Cyrano’s production prowess. Perhaps the song of theirs that still slaps the hardest, by hood standards anyway, is 2008′s collaboration with The Jacka and Mistah FAB entitled “Marshawn Lynch.” Most of the world has only become privy to Beast Mode in the past year, but for those of us from the Bay, Marshawn’s defining attitude has been celebrated since his days at Cal Berkeley and Oakland Tech.

DL: “Marshawn Lynch” – The Cataracs feat. Tha Jacka & Mistah FAB

They also benefited from being white boys with a captive Berkeley High School audience. The first time I tried to see them perform they were fresh out of high school, and yet I couldn’t get within 30 feet of the building. That’s because there was a mob of girls screaming and pushing to get into the building. From jump, they brought the females out and cultivated that fan base. That crop of female fans started out young, but have grown up with duo. Of course now they have to compete with flocks of international fans and Hollywood hauxs too.

Fast forward to 2010, the duo signed with Universal Records and hit the big time with “Like a G6″, their chart-topping collaboration with The Far East Movement. Then in 2011 they released “Top Of The World” (21 million views and counting on youtube), collaborated with 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and The New Boyz, recorded Dev’s album in Costa Rica, their own album in Hawaii and Brazil, toured with Usher and earned a couple plaques in the process. Needless to say, they’re a long way from rocking show’s at La Peña!

STRAIGHT OUTTA B-TOWN: THE EVOLUTION OF THE CATARACS

Their youtube channel is a celebratory video scrapbook of their recent journeys, but also a tribute to where they come from. Perhaps nothing sums up that duality better than one of Niles’s lines in “Creatures” in which he spits, “Tell em where ya from, B-Town /But I’m in LA sellin’ Justin Bieber beats now.” Check out the single shot studio music video of this atmospheric slap below.

Also, peep their latest video with Dev called “Sunrise.” No slick production, just candid footage of them in makeshift beach front studios and exploring foreign lands. It’s not a bad way to live. I recently ran into Cyrano and Campa at the Watch The Throne concert in San Jose and reckoned that it wouldn’t be too long before they were headlining such venues. I would venture to guess that even after a Grammy or two though, you still might find the Space Boy Clik rocking B-High’s prom.