Album Review: Doomtree – All Hands

Doomtree - All HandsIt takes a lot for me to admit I like a modern day hip hop act.

I’m not trying to sound like a jaded hipster supreme or anything, but I just can’t get into a lot of these hip hop acts out there let alone understand what the hell they are talking about.

Maybe it is because I am getting old.  Or maybe it is because I prefer 90s hip hop over anything else (Bone Thugs and Wu Tang will always remain my favs).

I can always make exceptions of course.

Doomtree is easily one of those exceptions.
(Note: Run The Jewels is another – but we are not going to talk about them in this post.)

Hailing from Minneapolis, Doomtree is a hip hop collective full of artists who bring different talents together to create a complex and intricate style of hip hop.

I can’t lie, P.O.S. is how I learned of Doomtree.  I was introduced to him years ago and even got to shoot some up clone and personal photos him him during a memorable set at a Warped Tour as he performed literally in the middle of the crowd standing upon an equipment case.  Anyone who sings Fugazi in the middle of a rap track is ok with me.  Not to mention, he was in Wharf Rats too.

Should I even mention that another member in Doomtree, Cecil Otter, was 1/2 behind Wugazi?  Do you see why I dig these guys so much?  Perhaps I need to calm down.  Nah…

Doomtree

I was introduced to Doomtree’s second release No Kings shortly after and was completely blown away.  To be honest, I still listen to that album.  It is a timeless collection of awesome with plenty of memorable tracks that have not gotten stale by any means not to mention the “Bangarang” video still rules thanks to Har Mar Superstar.

Doomtree recently dropped an all new album in January called All Hands.  This will be their third official album and was actually recorded far away from civilization and cellphone signals.  The result is not surprising, an eyebrow lifting album that easily will gather tons of attention.

“Final Boss” started off things so strong with a incredibly likable track that was full of 8-bit beats.  Each of the 5 MCs took a turns rifling off lyrics praising their hometown, recognizing  talent, talking video games, and just life.  The repeating  “get up like I never f*cking got up before and I get it like I never f*cking got it before” seemingly pumped this listener up each time it repeated.  I thought it was great that the track just ended with Jake Hanson playing a simple riff on his guitar.

You know, I thought I was impressed with the first track, and suddenly I was treated to “My Own Nation”.  Wow.  I am not even certain I can describe how much I dug this track.  I think you will just need to hear it for yourself (see below).  The climax of this track is where things got insane.

“.38 Airweight” brought light of Bernie Goetz, a NYC so-called vigilante douchebag who shot and killed 4 young men almost 30 years ago because he thought he was going to get mugged.  This track to me was a callout to all of the senseless violence from yesteryear and today.

“Mini Brute” was a mess of sounds that almost seemed to encompass my entire attention, pulling me away from the lyrics, but I just kept fighting to just absorb the poetry.  This track was insane.  I wish those jackasses in Akron, OH never broke into my Cavalier and stole my mediocre stereo system in 2004.  I really would have loved to have the opportunity to blast this track.

Of course “Cabin Killer” had me hoping for Evil Dead references, but instead I was treated to plenty of head-nodding smooth flows.  I wish Cecil and P.O.S. both could have kept going for a tad longer, but I am grateful for the Stay Puft reference.

“Generator” may have been speaking about speeding up, but this song just fell short.  I appreciated the Atari Teenage Riot electronic-sounding heavy beats, but overall I was kind of bored.

Thankfully “Off in the Deep” jumped out of that rut and returned to awesomeness.  P.O.S. Sims, and Dessa all took turns doing what they do best on this track.  I am still trying to figure out if they sampled a song behind the scenes on this track as it sounded so familiar.  If not, kudos to Doomtree for creating such a likable sound.

“Marathon” closed things with a punk edge thanks to the repeating hook “when it all boils down there’s nothing but bones left”.  Maybe this track was not as heavy as the others, but it was certainly the most well-written, especially the final “hashtag No Kings, crash y’alls server.”  What a way to end an album.

I can not tell you the number of times that I have gotten myself so worked up over an album only to hear it with pure disappointment.  This is so not the case as All Hands does not disappoint at all.

I think the thing I love most about Doomtree is that nothing seems generic or forced.  From the lyricism to the beats in each track, you can hear how genuine the pride is.  It is not commercial hop hop by any means and  really needs to trump some of that quick-beat, lazy written crap that seems to always grab all the attention.

This act has continued to impress me.  I would not be shocked if All Hands took them a step or two closer to the spotlight that they so much deserve.

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