DOOMTREE is something I’ve written about before. On a few different occasions, I have had the opportunity to bring to your face holes the amazing skill and passion of a collective of artists that have reinforced my interpretation of what great hip-hop can be; mainstream, indie, or other.
DOOMTREE is the collective name for seven solo artists: Lazerbeak, Dessa, SIMS, POS, Paper Tiger, Cecil Otter, and Mike Mictlan. Each is an independent and starkly contrasting artist to all the others. DOOMTREE is the vehicle, the business entity, that allows for each of these fast friends to support one another in their endeavors, and to collaborate on projects from solo works to DOOMTREE collaborative albums like their latest creation, No Kings.
My exposure to DOOMTREE was not unlike others that have come by way of the midwest sound; I started with Atmosphere. Atmosphere and Rhymsesayers Entertainment for many is the gateway drug to the tunes to be found in the land of ten thousand lakes. Atmosphere was my audio pot that led me to search for harder auditory drugs. Minneapolis may not be on the average musical map, but it seems the cold winter’s make for some sick music. After Atmosphere, I needed a new hip-hop high. Enter: POS. From POS I found SIMS, then I tried Dessa, experimented with Mike Mictlan, and finally got hooked on Cecil Otter. Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger came with the collective, men whose finger prints could be found on the production of albums, tracks, and solo mixes of their own. My name is Wesley, and I’m a DOOMTREE addict.
DOOMTREE isn’t a group in the traditional sense of the word. They didn’t start as a jam band and then split off to do solo work, as the script reads in almost every other case. They are quite the opposite. All independent artists that come together to work together and support one another. Dessa describes DOOMTREE like this:
“A lot of that comes from flexibility. We’re willing to change what being in DOOMTREE means. Maybe it doesn’t mean we need to put out an album every two years. Maybe we just put one out when we have a good album. Maybe we don’t have to have cameos on all of each others stuff. Maybe it just means each of us helps support the work of the others. When I put out my record, Lazerbeak was enormously involved. When SIMS put out his record, I wrote the press releases, and Paper Tiger did the one-sheets. I think being in DOOMTREE is about believing in each other’s work and sharing resources and skills, and that’s really all it has to be.”
The collective seems to be running strong this year and getting stronger. SIMS dropped maybe my top album of the year in Bad Time Zoo. Oh, and then he hit us with an EP in Wildlife as seemingly an addendum to the LP. Dessa released A Badly Broken Code and then a musical re-imagining of that album in Castor, The Twin. Of course Cecil Otter along with friend Swiss Andy dropped an amazing album of remixes combining Wu-Tang vocals with Fugazi beats...yeah, that just happened. 13 Chambers is definitely worth a listen for any fan of either group. Lazerbeak also dropped Legend Recognize Legend, a solo project that features some Lazerbeak vocals and beats. From “Super Producer” to singer and performer in his own right, I am looking forward to his next album, Lava Bangers. I know I have forgotten a ton of side projects, like Stef helping friend Astronautalis create his amazing album, This is Our Science.
Countless tour stops, unending grinding, and now the nine-month brain baby to top off this incredible year, DOOMTREE banged out a stellar album in No Kings on top of everything else, as if the rest just wasn’t enough.
No Kings is aggressive, brave, and another step forward in a sound that comes from seven different people to become one choir of sound that invigorates the listener. From "No Way to Bolt Cutter" to "Bangarang" to "Punch Out" to even the slower tempo in "Little Mercy," this album has everything you want in a DOOMTREE album. When listening to the album, I could hear the musical fingerprints of POS, Cecil Otter, Paper Tiger, and Lazerbeak from beat to beat along with literary lyrics that never seem to stop amazing me. It screams DOOMTREE and reps wings&teeth in every moment of every track. Dessa had this to say on the album:
“It’s about charting your own course and making up your own mind and resisting some of the hierarchical that want you to conform to a pre-written game plan. I think No Kings is about living your life independently. I guess that relates to rapping to, but we’ve got some pretty non-traditional lifestyles amongst us and it takes you a while to embrace that brand of independent thinking. This album was about that mode of thought and mode of conducting yourself.”
DOOMTREE is setting out on a full-crew tour to promote No Kings starting in mid-January, and I implore you to buy yourself a ticket, and bring a friend with you. I have seen a lot of shows, seen many crowds, and shot my fair share of stars, but I have never seen something as intense as a show performed by any one of the members. I can only imagine what is in store for me to see everyone come together in two hours of DOOMTREE face-melting music. Dessa can let you in on what to expect though:
“Generally, the set for this tour will be really collaborative. It’s not like anything else in my life to be up on stage with DOOMTREE. It’s athletic, it’s unflagging, and we’ll do more than two hours of music in all likelihood, and by the end of it all of us have sweat through our T-shirts and you can see the tenderness between us. We look like friends. There will be moments of absolute abandon. One of us will take a stray elbow because we are jumping so hard. Mike Mictlan will be getting passed over head by hand. It’s a great dynamic range and you can tell that we are people that are doing this that love the hell out of each other.”
If that isn’t enough to get you to spend $13 on a ticket to see them in L.A., then I don’t know what will get you out to The Troubadour Feb. 2nd. How about the fact the Stef (POS) should be dropping some new music from his next album? Yeah, I knew you’d like that. I know I’m gonna be there. I’ll be the one singing along to every lyric and jumping in the crowd...like every single other person there. There is nothing like mainlining, live, my drug of choice: DOOMTREE! reps wings&teeth.
Read the full interview with Dessa Darling of DOOMTREE, click here.
California shows for the No Kings Tour--Tickets will go fast! Get your tickets to the venue near you at doomtree.net like...NOW! Seriously, do it.
San Francisco, CA
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About the Author
Wesley Bauman is an editor/photojournalist in Ventura, CA. With a background in journalism, Wesley has expanded his scope of work and created Project: Poppycock, a digital experiment in collaborative writing and open dialogue. He is the author of two books, Doggy Paddling in the Deep End and What!? I Said, "With All Due Respect!" Both books are available through his blog, projectpoppycock.com (click on "The Bookstore"). All profits from the sales benefit charities at donorschoose.org. Follow Wesley on Twitter @myownfalseidol