Doomtree’s Big Blowout

The premiere rap group of the Midwest make their triumphant return with their sophomore LP “No Kings” and a seven-day Doomtree Blowout at First Avenue.

Raghav Mehta

 

Album: DoomtreeâÄôs âÄúNo KingsâÄù

Release date: Nov. 22

Label: Doomtree Records

Doomtree Blowout VII

Dec. 4 to  Dec. 10 at First Avenue and 7th St. Entry. See www.doomtree.net for full schedule.

To call Doomtree a local rap group seems like a bit of an understatement at this juncture. Over the better part of the last decade, MinneapolisâÄô all-star crew of rhyme addicts has become so ubiquitous and prolific that theyâÄôve created something of a small empire.

And with a seven-day Blowout at First Avenue taking place next month and a much-awaited full-member release arriving Tuesday, the groupâÄôs heightened stature has never seemed so apparent or deserved.

Written and recorded over the summer, DoomtreeâÄôs latest effort, âÄúNo Kings,âÄù is 12 cuts of rock solid head-bangers, which shine with stellar production and unparalleled charisma. At the risk of appearing cliché, the group spent a week holed up in a cabin in northern Wisconsin to finish writing the album. But unlike some of their regional peers (Bon Iver and No Bird Sing), the idea wasnâÄôt born out of a need for creative inspiration. It was a professional necessity.

âÄúWe needed to get away in order to minimize distractions of day-to-day life,âÄù Andrew Sims (Sims) said. âÄúI donâÄôt think the scenery of [northern Wisconsin] really affected the album lyrically. It might have affected the focus we all had.âÄù

With Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger returning to the production helm, the beats are all a much-needed far cry from the understated, poorly mixed quality that the groupâÄôs debut suffered from. âÄúNo KingsâÄù makes all kinds of grand statements sonically, layering swirls of futuristic electro atop powerhouse percussion. From the chest-pumping chorus on âÄúBangarangâÄù (sung by Mike Mictlan) to the militaristic assault of âÄúBolt Cutter,âÄù itâÄôs a meticulously crafted album and channels all the grit and streetwise swagger that the group delivers time and again with their live performances.

âÄúI donâÄôt know if itâÄôs anger. I think it­­­âÄôs ferocity âÄî a declaration. The idea of not being too rabble rousing and getting angry about stuff,âÄù Sims said.

âÄúIt comes off as angry, but I think weâÄôre just getting old. WeâÄôre turning our wild anger that we used to have and being really serious about it and using it the right way,âÄù emcee Mike Mictlan said.

Before deciding to self-release âÄúNo KingsâÄù, Mictlan said the group was reviewing offers from various labels. They had even reached out to fellow underground rapper and spoken word champion Sage Francis. But Francis declined, claiming âÄúNo KingsâÄù felt more like a âÄúcompilationâÄù rather than an album.

As for the meaning behind the album title? Well, it just depends on which member you talk to.

âÄúIf you go back through the discography of Doomtree youâÄôll find the âÄòNo KingsâÄô mantra existing throughout all of our records,âÄù Sims said. âÄúFor me itâÄôs about acknowledging your own sovereignty âĦ you accept no  oppression and you oppress no one. ItâÄôs more about a humanitarian concept rather than an anarchist concept.âÄù

Much like P.O.S.âÄôs âÄúNever Better,âÄù âÄúNo KingsâÄù meanders into rap-rock territory more than once, yielding some mixed results along the way (the choruses on âÄúTeam The Best TeamâÄù and âÄúGimme The GoâÄù feel a little ham-fisted). Nonetheless, the group has never sounded more focused and driven. ItâÄôs not a perfect album but thereâÄôs plenty here thatâÄôll have Doomtree faithful yearning for more.