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“Eclectic Midwest hip-hop collective delivers again”
On No Kings, their second album, Minneapolis based rap collective Doomtree offer up a hybrid of slick street beats along with the glitched-out sounds fans can’t seem to get enough of these days. The album is fun and fierce, a catchy hip-hop sound from seven people who retreated to a Wisconsin cabin to write and record it. A follow up to 2008’s Doomtree, the album does a good job reintroducing the crew, playing off their strengths defined from the last release.
In the time since, P.O.S., Dessa, Sims, Cecil Otter, Mike Mictlan, Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger have become stars in their own right. Doomtree’s single, “Bolt Cutter” does a good job of presenting a fairly clear picture of the band, musically. The track starts off with a slick, catchy beat reminiscent of old Massive Attack and quickly moves into a fierce rap and group hook. The beats project the power of P.O.S., the inventive classicism of Cecil Otter, the moving moodiness of Paper Tiger and the face-melting heat of Lazerbeak.
Much the same can be said for “No Way,” a grimy thumper, which conjures up comparisons to an angrier, slightly hip-hoppier and certainly darker, Groove Armada (the most recent stuff, not the chillout era GA).
Although the music tends to twist towards darker industrial dance beats, No Kings is an entertaining record. Listening to it once through, even picking one song out, reminds me of sitting through the trailer to an over-the-top action flick. There may be a strong message stored within, but it’s just difficult to get through the musical walls to understand it. In many ways the music overwhelms the message.
That said, there isn’t a bad track on the album. Although, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish tracks like “Bangarang” and “Punch-Out,” the songs contribute to the overall energy and party-like atmosphere of the record. It’s clear that Doomtree, “10 years in the lane,” have perfected their craft, delivering a fun, bump-worthy album. While it won’t set a new standard for the genre, No Kings is surely a nice respite from much of the pedestrian hip-hop acts out today. (Doomtree Records)