Review: Doomtree - No Kings (2011)

 Genre: hip-hop
 Label: Doomtree
 Country: United States of America

One of my favourites from last year, the collective effort of 5 MC's and 2 DJ's (respectively 2 and 1 more than the Beastie Boys needed, but hey), Doomtree's No Kings is finally officially presented here! For me hip-hop isn't a genre I particularl enjoy, but I have a thing for the weird and original and sometimes the weird and original from an otherwise pretty much retarded genre can turn out to be pretty damn sweet...

Enter Doomtree, these guys and girl from Minneapolis are DJ's and MC's in their own right (with releases on the Doomtree label) but also collaborate frequently and sometimes even make a record with errrrybody. This is their second group effort, and from what I hear about the first one the first real group effort. That's the first thing that they really deserve credit for: the vocal styles of the 5 MC's are very distinct but they make it mesh seamlessly. The songs, mostly produced by 1 of the producers and 2 of the MC's, all play on the respective strengths of the vocalists and you never get the idea that one of the MC's is much better and the others are only on the record because it's a group thing. A true group effort then, something that seems unheard of in the standard guns and bling-bullshit world of hip-hop...

...what Doomtree really isn't a part of anyway! Lyrics are sharp as a wit, challenging, beautiful: it's all there! They are deeply critical of certain societal trends, and they let that be known. Also some more 'general' lyrics on the progress of mankind and a little 'true' hip-hop fronting about them being well... pretty good! But hey, these guys áre truly good so that's OK. Their vocal delivery is really awesome: like said before they are all very different and besides that their individual flow and sound are just great. From the respective MC's there is fast machine gun rapping with a psycho edge, laidback drawn out playing with rhythm, an amalgamation of singing and rapping from the female MC, warm narrating beat driven flow and attention demanding in your face spitting going all over the place.

So, the music, what is it? Well, it's not old school hip-hop and it's not current mainstream hip-hop. The latter is at least a plus! Apart from what it isn't, they bring all kinds of music to the table and that is... well, damn awesome once more! Electro, garage rock, indie, trip-hop, you name it they bring it. It has a decidedly experimental feel; the base is pretty much electronic but it has a strong presence of raw instrumentation as well. There's exciting drum/beat work, subtle details swirling in and out the music, driving punkish/rock guitars, ambience, and in general a very strong sense of what the song is and what it needs to do. The combination of the impressive vocals and the intricate music make this something like I've never heard before.

So, yeah, all in all: LISTEN TO THIS AND STAND IN AWE! Also, check out the work done by P.O.S; his great 2009 effort Never Better inspired me to check out their collective work. And don't forget, looking at theses guys you're scoring massive points in the hipster scene. Pip pip, cheerio!

This review was previously released elsewhere.