By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
By A.H. Goldstein
I wouldn't put Cobraconda in the same vein as anything in Denver," says Spencer Foreman. "We get fucking crazy and buck-wild at shows. We're party animals, man. Fuck-beast mode. This is Godzilla, older and harder than beast mode."
And when provoked, sometimes the Cobra strikes. Just ask Michael Mazzotta. In addition to running the lights and manning Ableton for the act, he makes sure that Cobraconda — formed by Foreman and Graham Nation after the two played together in numerous metal bands in New York — is running tight. He's seen these guys at their best and worst, including when they almost killed each other while dressed in all white at South by Southwest recently after a secret T.I. show.
"We heard T.I. was playing a secret show, and we decided we were going to dress in all white and see how dirty we could get," Foreman recalls. "After getting hammered all day, Graham and I got into a huge fistfight with each other after the show. We were both covered in blood and wasted. I'm sure Mike thought we were going to break up while in Austin."
Doubtful. Mazzotta has a tighter bond with the boys than that, especially with Nation, his so-called Eskimo brother. "We've fucked some of the same girls," notes Mazzotta with a high-five to Nation. "That's what makes us Eskimo brothers. Eskimos always like to bury in, if you know what I mean."
This kind of brash talk is normal among the crew. Aptly described as a purveyor of party rap, Cobraconda is more likely to shock you into submission than any other rap act in the scene right now. "We were playing hardcore shows with another band, and Spencer and I would open our shows with a rap song," recalls Nation, nestled comfortably between Mazzotta and Foreman at Shag. "And then he would jump behind the bass, and I'd jump on the drums, and we'd just start killing it, playing metal for half an hour. We got more response out of us rapping in front of hardcore kids who weren't expecting it."
And so the rap collaboration was born, as was the name, a blend of two very powerful snakes, the cobra and the anaconda — a combination, Foreman points out, that is unstoppable. "The cobra and the anaconda are two bad-ass snakes," he observes. "Imagine a cobra the size of an anaconda. I recently learned that a pretty normal size for a king cobra is eighteen feet, and they can stand over a third of their body tall."
"It's scary as shit," Nation interjects.
This Cobraconda seems equally imposing. Foreman is a classically trained bassist who does a lot of guitar and keyboard work. Raised in Boulder, he comes from a music-driven family. His mother is a singer, his father plays guitar, a younger brother is making his mark in the rap world, and his middle brother, Shawn, is, of course, one half of the outfit known as 3OH!3.
Nation, meanwhile, is a Baton Rouge native and fills the role of charismatic drummer. His main influence, he says, is Southern rap, while Foreman finds most of his inspiration in East Coast rhymes and classic records from crews like Smif-n-Wessun. All of that and more informs the music of Cobraconda. "We were both in metal bands," Nation explains. "We've played indie, emo, hard metal, rock, all of that. We don't have to pretend like we understand a certain genre of music, because we've done all of it, and that's represented in how we make our music as Cobraconda."
While most potential rap stars try to find their place among the boom-bap enthusiasts and mainstream hard-core rap world, Cobraconda is working on an aesthetic that's all about the party and nothing but the party. "What we're building is a reputation of party rocking and having fun; that's what it's about," declares Foreman. "We let people know what we're about before we do anything else. Most groups have three or four records before they find their sound — that's not us. We've pretty much got it dialed in."
But don't get it twisted: As dialed into the party life as they are, the guys unequivocally love hip-hop and its evolution. "People who embrace that the genre is changing are the ones who are coming up from the underground," notes Foreman. "Eligh and Amp live is a great example. Living Legends is such a heavy namesake in underground hip-hop. It's still classic, even if it's different."
Reverence aside, Cobraconda will never be accused of making backpack rap. With music best described as life imitating art, the two keep the party gangster while kicking real rhymes with original production and hilarious themes (keep an eye out for The Carter 27, a response to the ongoing series of album releases by Lil Wayne). And there is nothing they're more qualified to write about than the art of the party. Their sound has been described as the love child of LMFAO and 2 Live Crew, and their style is so raunchy and drug-laced, you couldn't get higher if you put the CD directly on your tongue.