Release Date: Nov 22, 2011
Record label: Doomtree Records
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock
Minneapolis' Doomtree let a bunch of their hydra heads have a turn in the spotlight over the last year or so, and the ensuing solo releases were a solid indicator of just how multifaceted a crew they could be. But of all the records that had the potential to raise the collective's profile-- including rapper/singer Dessa's coolly strong Castor, the Twin, Sims' feral, heavy-hitting Bad Time Zoo, Lazerbeak's indie pop-friendly Legend Recognize Legend, and Paper Tiger's intricately soulful beat record Made Like Us-- it was, of all things, a mash-up record that blew up. Funny thing is, the concept behind the Cecil Otter co-created "Wugazi" project wasn't just some blog-baiting crossover stunt-- it's a way to look at where Doomtree got their early inspiration as an entity, somewhere between the form-like-Voltron Wu-Tang enclave's early underground mythbuilding and Fugazi's community-building independence.
Who is Doomtree? The simplest answer – that it’s currently P.O.S., Sims, Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Cecil Otter, Paper Tiger, and Lazerbeak all brought together – isn’t the best answer. Certainly each of them, after a few years of producing some excellent solo work (P.O.S.’s Never Better was a particular highlight), has brought ideas to No Kings, and that makes No Kings an album by Doomtree. But if Doomtree is a collective of personalities who are forging careers in their own right, then how should we characterize their music as a whole? The most obvious contrasts could be made between vocal styles.
The Midwest hip-hop collective Doomtree is enjoying a fine moment. Fresh off the fantastic Fugazi/Wu-Tang mash-up record, 13 Chambers, which got the group some fresh attention, the group now follows that success with their latest full-crew record, No Kings. The collective has been building inertia for years, with great records by Sims, Mike Mictlan and Lazerbeak, Cecil Otter, Dessa, and –perhaps mostly notably – P.O.S., whose records have received the highest profile, not to mention his work with groups like GAYNGS.
Most listeners are only familiar with Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree by way of Wugazi, the ingenious Fugazi/Wu-Tang Clan mash-up. This summer’s Wugazi LP, 13 Chambers, provided insight into the group’s core dynamic: raw punk energy wrapped up in lofty hip-hop heroism. Doomtree’s dynamic is perfected on its latest record, No Kings, an all-out assault combining the individual strengths of five MCs and two producers.
Doomtree get dance-punked, and though it’s more Daft than wack, the Twin Cities hip-hop collective struggle beneath the weight of the sound. The dark, low-riding rhythms and sonic set pieces are busy and clamorous like G-funk if it suddenly found Justice in a blind alley. They aren’t only loud, but repetitive, squeezing much of the light out in favor of hardness.