Doomtree: The Hip-Hop Co-Op
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Andrea Swensson
Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 10:14 AM
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The members of this multi-faceted Minnesota collective get together for a live concert at The Current.

Behold the power of the hyper-collaborative rap septet. For the past 10 years, Doomtree have grown from a rag-tag group of novice MCs and beatmakers to Minneapolis's premier hip-hop crew, propelling their career forward with an aggressively earnest ethos that feels distinctly Midwestern.

The group's latest release, No Kings, is the capstone of a dizzying run of solo releases and side projects from the crew, which includes a pair of punk and noise-influenced Rhymesayers releases from P.O.S.; a full-length pop debut and jazz-influenced EP from spoken word artist, essayist, and singer Dessa; collaborations between multi-talented producer Lazerbeak and bombastic spitter Mike Mictlan; a solo release from heartfelt sociopolitical rapper Sims; and a solo album from introspective mood-shifter Cecil Otter. Add in Otter's mash-up project, Wugazi, and Lazerbeak's solo albums, which range from rock to dance, and a few dizzying patterns start to emerge: Doomtree's preferred sounds and strengths are all over the map, and they are an eternally prolific crew that never stops pushing forward, ever.

Each member has used their turn in the spotlight to refine their sound and further develop their personality, but there is always a return back to the collective; solo tours and release cycles are broken up by hometown pride-fests like their annual Doomtree Blowout at First Avenue, a tradition that has grown so massive that they managed to sell out the club for seven days straight. As each individual star shines brighter, they regroup to form an even tighter and more illuminating constellation. In that regard, No Kings is a triumph — it maintains an incredible balance of power, neither drowning out nor over-accentuating any of the members, and artistically reflects the egalitarian philosophy of the group.

"Seek not to oppress, and don't tolerate any oppression," Dessa eloquently summarized during their recent session with 89.3 The Current, while Sims acknowledged that they are "basically a co-op." It's that kind of DIY-circa-2012 energy that has propelled them to where they are now, poised to break out nationally, and has earned them widespread and unwavering support in a hometown that can be leery of bands who enjoy too much commercial success.

In Minneapolis, Doomtree have gained prominence in an independent hip-hop scene that already includes heavyweights like Atmosphere and Brother Ali, regularly share bills with acts ranging from singer-songwriters and indie rockers to underground noise collectives, and enjoy overwhelmingly positive support from the press and The Current. In addition to performing at Lollapalooza in Chicago, this summer they be the first hip-hop act to play the station's Rock the Garden festival at the Walker Art Center, and one of their tracks from their session with the station is featured on the compilation Local Current Vol. 2.

It's no small wonder that their crowds explode with pride every time the crew takes the stage. In the words of Sims on Doomtree's blistering single, "Bangarang": "I've built more than a rap career — I've got my family here." And they're welcoming new fans into that family every day.

Set List

"Beacon"

"Bangarang"

Personnel

P.O.S.

Dessa

Lazerbeak

Mike Mictlan

Sims

Cecil Otter

Paper Tiger (producer)

Credits

Host: Mark Wheat

Video: Nate Ryan and Eric Schleicher

Production: Nate Ryan

Audio: Michael DeMark

[Copyright 2012 KCMP-FM]



This article is filed in: Music Videos

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