Hip-hop collective releases genre-blending album

Eli Watson

Minneapolis-based collective Doomtree has become a resonating voice in hip-hop’s ever-changing scene. Alongside Minneapolis’ Rhymesayers Entertainment, which features the likes of underground-turned-mainstream rapper Atmosphere, MF Doom and Doomtree’s very own P.O.S., Doomtree have solidified themselves as one of hip-hop’s definitive new voices. The group, all of jacks-of-multiple-trades, functions like Wu-Tang Clan: they feed off of each other’s energy, their rhymes accompanied by an unrelenting punk-rock vigor that exudes conviction and authenticity.

Now, the group returns with their latest collaborative effort, No Kings, an album that picks up where their self-titled 2008 release started. Opener “No Way” begins with staccato snare drum, explosive high hat cymbals and driving bass guitar, before shifting to an onslaught of declarations by Doomtree’s technical wordsmith, Cecil Otter. “I go so fucking nasty,” says Otter, his statement an unrelenting foreshadow of the uncontrollable rambunctiousness that is apparent throughout the album.

“Beacon” oozes with fuzzy synths, and the song’s hook is infectious. Dessa’s vocal delivery is thinly veiled by distorted, Auto-Tune-like effects, creating a strangely captivating momentary bliss, followed by a blistering battle of words between Sims and Otter.

Album ender “Fresh New Trash” epitomizes the group’s comfort and sense of unity with one another. Featuring all five MCs and produced by Otter, Lazerbeak, Paper Tiger and P.O.S., “Fresh New Trash” is a proclamation: Doomtree is here to stay, regardless of fame and mainstream appeal. “I rep Doom, ’til I’m dust,” declares Dessa over 1970s horns, while fearless leader P.O.S. goes in for the kill with, “I’m feelin’ like fresh new trash, top of the can, out of the bag and scattered all over everything.”

No Kings continues to prove that Doomtree is nothing like their contemporaries, and the group would not have it any other way. Similar to the punk rock movement that the group is influenced by, Doomtree does not flinch in the face of uncertainty: The group attacks it with a certain level of fervor and poignancy, resulting in a slew of profound declarations backed by a flurry of maniacal drums and sounds. Each member compliments the others: from the insightful, witty reflections of songstress Dessa, to the tenaciously aggressive tone of the intimidating Mike Mictlan, the Doomtree collective never falters in its delivery.

Doomtree’s intentions are embodied in this line: “I wasn’t in it for the fame or making profit.” It is that exact quality that separates Doomtree from the rest and proves that the midwest collective thrives off of a challenge.

Printed on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 as: Hip-hop collective returns with new, intense album