Doomtree: No Kings
When it comes to hip hop in the land of a thousand lakes, there are only two crews that matter: Rhymesayers and Doomtree. Rhymesayers have garnered a large amount of success via artists like Atmosphere and Brother Ali. Doomtree is a little more underground. The most famous artist associated with Doomtree is probably P.O.S. but other artists like Dessa and Lazerbeak also call the label home. No Kings is the collective’s second group album.
There is a stigma shared between the Minnesota rap crews that because of their location, they are emotional raps, incapable of creating tracks that go hard. Quickly Doomtree not only takes on, but smashes this myth. “No Way” starts off with a gritty guitar riff that sounds lifted from X-Ray Spex‘ “The Day the World Turned Day-Glo.” Sims handles the first verse, wrapping his words around a drum and bass rhythm making it sound like he’s rapping much faster than he actually is. The second verse is handled by Cecil Otter. The contrast is stark between his slightly deeper and slower vocals over a less spastic drum beat. The sequencing of vocalists is no fluke, with P.O.S. capping off the song with a cadence very similar to Sims’ first verse.
Listening to the album, every track is sequenced perfectly. It becomes obvious that the rappers of Doomtree know each other very well and know how to play off of their strength.
While Doomtree artists are generally known for their experimental beat making, almost every track is a banger that you could possibly hear in a club. Perhaps the best example of this is “Bangarang” which features Eurobeat synths over chopped-n-screwed-style drums. The contrast between the two styles seem like it would be impossible to rap over but the vocalists of Doomtree use double time flows to match the energy of the synths. It is quite impressive.
In the end, No Kings really stands as a tour-de-force for the Minneapolis-based collective. For any doubters as to the skills of these Mid-western rappers and beat makers, this record is a giant middle finger. The “fuck the haters” mentality is clear and praise is well deserved.
MP3: Doomtree “Bangarang”
Doomtree: No Kings