In the Minneapolis hip-hop scene, Doomtree -- a "collective" of local rappers and producers -- is an institution; the rest of us are just catching up. Just by himself, member P.O.S. has made a name thanks to guest appearances with more famous indie-rappers like Astronautalis and B. Dolan, along with his association with Rhymesayers Entertainment.
Now Doomtree will release their third album, All Hands, tomorrow, and is finally breaking out. Lead singles "Gray Duck" and ".38 Airweight" teased the heights this album would reach, but the most recent release, "Final Boss," is the one really making waves. This thing is a tour de force.
"Final Boss" is the kind of posse cut that just destroys; consider it like Doomtree's version of Wu-Tang Clan's "Triumph." Creeping up in the first few seconds with a spacey, tripped-out beat that sounds like El-P remixing a track from Yeezus, Sims is first to break the silence.
He builds intensity in his verse, his voice straining as he gets more serious, and then we break into that epic chorus. "Get up like I never fuckin' got up before, and I get it like I never fuckin' got it before." The hook is one of the biggest I've heard in a rap song in ages.
Dessa and P.O.S both crush the track next, but after another round through the chorus, when the beat drops out for a second, it's Mike Mictlan who gets the best verse in the song. He comes out spitting fire, and just never lets it go. It's one final fake ending, before the huge chorus comes swirling back and we're out of the whirlwind wondering what the hell we just heard.
It is a massive opener, to be sure. As to the lyricism, the rappers all go in on social issues. Doomtree is political, but they also don't beat you over the head with it the way many indie-rappers do. This thing is pure enjoyment, even if you don't know what they are talking about.
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On the other hand, they mix in many video-game metaphors, in case a title like "Final Boss" didn't tip you off to that immediately. Video-game nerds will probably flip when they catch shout outs to warp whistles and the Konami Code. Those aren't super-obscure, but they're just the right amount of nerdy to hook in the Internet crowd.
Could Doomtree really blow up with All Hands? If the singles are any indication, it's definitely a possibility. It's the most accessible work I've ever heard from any of the collective, but it maintains the rigid artistic integrity that the world of indie hip-hop demands. One thing is for sure: "Final Boss" taps into something that is unique yet familiar, contemporary and yet still the sort of throwback to classic real rhyming hip-hop that fans have come to love about the underground rap scene.
Even so early in the year, it might be a favorite for the best pure rap cut to hit in 2015.
Doomtree heads to Houston on February 8 at Fitzgerald's downstairs with special guest Open Mike Eagle. Doors open at 7 p.m.
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