The Minneapolis collective unveiled their long-anticipated debut. Aside from anthologies of efforts, the self-titled album is first studio album, polished by the artistic visions of five rappers and four producers. Last week I reviewed their previous effort, False Hopes (Doomtree, 2007). If nine’s not enough, I Self Divine and Crescent Moon join in for a couple.
Diverse influences funnel into this musical meld. P.O.S., infusing punk (see De La Souls featuring Bouncing Soul’s Greg Attonito), Dessa’s soothing soul, and MK Larada’s and Lazerbeak’s acoustic guitar tinged beats blend to paint a dichotomist landscape. Gameshow Host takes plucked guitar with a pulsating organ, establishing an unsettling undercurrent to Mictlan, Sims and Cecil Otter’s “We’re playing ghosts in the graveyard, float, frozen in eight bars.”
Turbo Nemesis stalks on Game Over, cutting across Paper Tiger’s beats and Mictlan’s best on the debut. The organ verse platform gives way during choruses, dipping down into a scale-climbing acoustic guitar. Meanwhile Mictlan’s rhymes hover over impressive Abilities-esque turntable cuts.
Track 2: Drumsticks
Dessa was the standout on the previous False Hopes and exceeds expectations this time around, especially on the duo with Cecil Otter on Last Call and Sadie Hawkins. The prior, with its echoed ‘Yeah!’ and walking bass over smooth vocals (Cecil has never sounded this good), hearkens as if a distant cousin to Wax Tailor’s calm jazzed beats. The latter, opening with Dessa’s unexpected lines “Baila antes de que te vas, vale baila antes que te vas,” continues with a light piano over highly harmonious hooks. “If there’s a damsel in this dress, she’s too far gone to save…”
On Jaded, the trio of Dessa, Cecil, and P.O.S. over MK Larada, ends it with a pensive perspective piece held at the threshold between change and the same. Persons contemplate, question, and anguish at this point on one of the debut’s deepest tracks. “Business is different than what you envisioned, isn’t it? All this cause and not an effect yet, just gauze and Percocet.” “Why don’t he know that I’m in pain? Why don’t he still need me?” “These dreams need sleep and I woke to a need to relieve not cope.”
While the polishes push the debut above all previous productions, the length (an hour) drags a little. The first two-thirds fly by, but
the last third lags tracks 12-15 are like a speed bump, slowing things to get over to and past Kid Gloves. Around this point, they bleed together and could use some more variety (either tempo or beats). The speckle of Spanish was is perfect, unexpected example of the variety.
Doomtree diverges diverse musical roots on the debut demonstrates the ascension of Minnesota’s ambitious and aspiring artists.