Release Date: Jan 27, 2015
Record label: Doomtree Records
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Underground Rap
To put on a Doomtree record is to commit to a certain amount of intense collective energy. Anything much more than that—left-field lyricism, hooks that sink their claws into you, a collection of beats that cohere into some loose future-is-now synthesis of electronic hip-hop—is a bonus, if an expected one. They fly banners in defiance of hierarchies: No Kings embodied that "the biggest thing we rule is ourselves" ethos, where calls to get on their level meant promises of camaraderie more than challenges for competition.
Hip Hop’s history has long been filled with collectives; the musical genre that is at times violent and filled with anger seems to have a special way of bringing artists together. There are notable groups like the Wu-Tang Clan and N.W.A., each with members that found their own way to contribute to the success of the team, coming together to vault the group as a whole into the national spotlight. Then there’s Doomtree.
Minneapolis collective Doomtree has been quietly (or not so quietly) collaborating on powerful hip-hop since even before their 2008 self-titled debut. They are a textbook example of DIY hip-hop: all bootstraps, clenched fists, Molotov cocktails, and belief in themselves and their fans. P.O.S., Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Cecil Otter, Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger, and Sims are now back with All Hands, a departure from the pillar-shaking No Kings with a sound that leans more toward self-celebration.
What do Doomtree hope to accomplish with All Hands? This isn’t a rhetorical question or an attempt to chide: I’d like, sincerely, to know what it is they were seeking when they began cobbling this album together and how that goal might have changed in the recording process. The Minneapolis rap collective’s never made bones about the fact that their work is ideologically motivate—their unofficial motto,“No Kings!” makes it rather clear what they think of authority figures—and that clarity’s always been a strength, so it’s something of a mystery that All Hands came out such a confused mess. Even the title, evocative at a glance, breaks down under a bit of scrutiny.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. It's been four years since Minneapolis rap group Doomtree put out a record. It's not as though they haven't been busy, but with seven members, each with their own solo careers, it's difficult getting the group together for long enough to record anything other than a single. For that reason the group rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere to remove all distractions and the result is the appropriately named All Hands.