Doomtree Discography and Notes: 2001-2009
[not really Doomtree] Building Better Bombs, Bottle Rocket single, 100 black discs limited edition [no label]
[not really Doomtree] Building Better Bombs, I Will Burn mini CD [no label]
[not really Doomtree] Cenospecies, In Definition (Peak Records), 2001: "Hip Hop"
Note: Here's probably the first piece on P.O.S., "Best Band to Break Up in the Past 12 Months," "Best of the Twin Cities," City Pages, May 1, 2002:
Though they had the career lifespan of a suicidal fruit fly, Cenospecies made one cool album before dying. For those who heard it, Indefinition (Peak Records) contains one of the most exciting moments in local recorded music circa 2001: Halfway through the largely a cappella "Hip Hop," the pounding beat of live drums and bass suddenly kicks in, and the sense of funky discombobulation is overwhelming. The crew manages such tricks throughout this strangely overlooked album, setting dense sample arrangements to hyperventilated lyrics and catchy choruses (such as the aphoristic "if the reason has no rhyme then the rhyme has no reason"). MCs P.O.S. and Syst (short for System) turned out to be the latest twist in a tired tradition of gifted local rappers recording only one album before breaking up (anyone heard from Abstract Pack lately?). Yet thank producer (and bassist-drummer) Anomaly (a.k.a. Jason Heinrichs) for first creating something worth tracking down.
P.O.S. and Cecil Otter, False Hopes (Doomtree), 2002 [*I don't have this]
Mr Gene Poole + Divine, Falsehopes 2 (Doomtree), 2002
[not really Doomtree but] Syst, Linear Language (Poor Bastard), 2002
Note: I'll add more about these and other releases later--this is pretty much cut-and-pasted straight from notes-in-progress for my book about Minnesota hip hop, tentatively titled Ice Cold. If you know any releases I missed, shoot me an email or comment.
P.O.S. ++ Cecil Otter, Mega! [a.k.a. Falsehopes: Mega] (Doomtree), 2003
Cecil Otter, Hungover Seas (Doomtree), 2003
Doomtree, 10 December 2003 - U.W. Stout (Doomtree), 2003 promo [*I don't have this]
Sims, Doomtree Presents False Hopes number four featuring Sims (Doomtree), 2004
Doomtree, False Hopes Warped Tour (Doomtree), 2004 [*I don't have this]
Mictlan, False Hopes Eight: Deity For Hire (Doomtree), 2004 [*I don't have this]
P.O.S., Ipecac Neat (Doomtree), 2004
P.O.S., Ipecac Neat [second issue] (Doomtree/Rhymesayers), 2004
From "Doomsday! From the garbage house to the club with P.O.S. and his Doomtree crew," City Pages (cover story), March 3, 2004:
[P]unk's sense of solidarity and outrage--what his girlfriend calls "constructive anger"--is obvious throughout Ipecac Neat, the rap label's first official release. Calling out George Bush by name on "Live," P.O.S. lifts a chorus from the Nas classic "The World Is Yours," but inverts its nihilism to attack an unnamed overclass: "Whose world is this/The world is theirs/Too many of you think it's fine/It's fine/It's fine."
Mictlan, False Hopes Eight: Deity For RE-Hire (Doomtree), 2005 [*I don't have this]
Dessa Darling, False Hopes (Doomtree), 2005
Cecil Otter, False Hopes (Doomtree), 2005
Dessa appears as part of Medida, "People," from Yoni, Now That's What I Call Copyright Infringement! Volume One (self-released), 2005
Sims, Lights Out Paris (Doomtree), 2005
"The Revolution Starts... Right After the Drinks: Complaints, explanations, and bar chat with Doomtree rappers Cecil Otter and Dessa," City Pages, February 26, 2005
From a review of Lights Out Paris, City Pages, June 22, 2005:
His voice sounds like Q-Tip crossed with a Beastie Boy, and you can see why the rest of the group jacks into his confidence like a sound system into a lamppost.
"Doomtree made into dolls at Robot Love," Gimme Noise (formerly Culture to Go), October 10, 2005; Doomtree photos from First Avenue 35th Anniversary, Complicated Fun, December 21, 2005
Video: P.O.S. feat. Slug "Bleeding Hearts Club MPLS Chapter"
Video: P.O.S. freestyling with Gym Class Heroes, 2006
MK Larada, Break in Two: Music for B-People (Doomtree), 2006 [*I don't have this]
P.O.S., "Bleeding Hearts Club" b/w "Yeah Right (Science Science)" (Rhymesayers) 12-inch, 2006 [*I don't have this]
Dessa appearance on "You're Breakin' Up," from Jessy Greene, A Demon and Her Lovers (Ravenstar Records), 2006 [*I don't have this]
P.O.S., Audition (Doomtree/Rhymesayers), 2006
Note: Here's my City Pages review of Audition, no longer available online, from January 26, 2006:
Punk rock is an emotional approach to music, not just a style of music, and I've found myself missing the first component as the second one becomes subtly pervasive. The outrage that needs to communicate itself immediately, at high speeds and volume, and in a defiantly creative way--that's as gone as the Dicks screaming "I! Don't! Know! Who I am anymore!" Punk has skipped like a stone across years of indecipherable hardcore, unhappy metal, ironic indie, and decadent crunk. The Beasties cry for a party--blessedly obnoxious and empty--has given way to the promises of ex-skate-punk Lil Jon to shoot your spine out.
Minneapolis rapper and producer P.O.S. is a punk because his songs mean something, and mean something loudly. Never mind that his idea of a come-on is the line, "I want to slip under the covers and make punk songs." Forget that he samples local post-hardcore cult bands such as Song of Zarathustra and Kill Sadie, the way L.L. Cool J once slung metal through "Rock the Bells." P.O.S. opens his second album with the philosophical line, "First of all, fuck Bush," and stays at about that level of immediacy throughout "Half-Cocked Concepts," sampling himself screaming the chorus "Get up/get up/get up/and get something done," referencing the Fat Joe-Lil Jon summit "Lean Back" for dance-floor solidarity, and tossing off his best line as an apparent afterthought: "A message in a bottle written in gas and oil/Signed with a rag and a match/Here catch!"
But he leaves you with two baffling, stand-alone lines: "Sticking feathers in your ass does not make you a chicken" (okay) [2009 note: Wait, was this in Fight Club?] and the apparently ad-libbed "Put the motherfucking Fresca down [or was this?]." It would be misleading, in other words, to imply that Audition is as clear as it is loud. Or even that it's all loud: Greg Attonito of New Jersey pop punks Bouncing Souls drops by to sing the chorus "No one will ever be like me" over a funky bed of strings on "De La Souls" (the best chamber punk since Fugazi). The Hold Steady's Craig Finn rolls mellow through the verses of "Safety in Speed (Heavy Metal)," an anti-gun ballad only on tenth listen (amid obscure and silly Jesse Ventura references--P.O.S.: "We ain't got time to bleed"). Packed with handclaps and more cowbell by guest producer Lazerbeak (a.k.a. the Plastic Constellations' Aaron Mader), "Bleeding Hearts Club (MPLS Chapter)" is the would-be-hit-single-if-anyone-paid-attention-to-Minnesota, with Slug seconding the sincerity and localism of the title. If anybody can rock the bells like he doesn't know who he is, anymore, it's P.O.S.
From "There Goes the Neighborhood: Ten local albums that kept the home fires blazing-- then burned down the house," City Pages, December 20, 2006:
Expressing the social conscience that Slug admits to between songs, P.O.S. is about the only rapper who could get guest star Craig Finn to write like Ian MacKaye. When the MC starts slicing up eyeballs on the very next track, he's merely reminding you he's an artist--shades of Hüsker Dü's "Diane" to offset "Real World" on Metal Circus 23 years ago. P.O.S. is no more a product of his environment than Hüsker, Prince, or the Replacements were, but you can't help but notice how local culture shapes male rockers differently, not so much in their lack of women problems (not hardly) but in their refusal to engage machismo in the usual way, or to view homosexuality as a problem. These things add up in hip hop, making P.O.S.'s juicy, Phife-like flow a rallying point, and not just a new flavor.
From "P.O.S., "Artists of the Year," City Pages, Dec. 27, 2006
The night before I rolled into New Orleans in late February, P.O.S. played a show in front of a small crowd at the Howlin' Wolf. Mardi Gras was underway by then, despite the devastation of Hurricane Katrina (the first clue I spotted that the rebuilding was not going well: a still-smashed-to-shit McDonald's sign). But the parades weren't spilling over into a concert by an emergent indie-rapper from Minnesota, and my friend who was there said the place felt empty. Walking out onstage, P.O.S. announced he would do the show from the floor, and soon everyone gathered around him as he flowed a few feet from their faces.
"The club went from feeling empty to feeling like the whole world was all around us," says my friend. "It was a good thing for me, and New Orleans."
There are plenty of punk samples on the second album from P.O.S., Audition (Doomtree/Rhymesayers), but the punkest thing about him is the way he engages his audience directly, with urgency and an insistence that he and they are a part of something. The MC's extended Doomtree crew has the ebullience of the 2006 Saturday Night Live, another cast emboldened by radicalized times.
The erotic noir video for P.O.S.'s duet with Slug, "Bleeding Hearts Club (MPLS Chapter)," is a local breakthrough all around, directed by Minneapolis photographer Bo Hakala, edited by rapper Träma, and starring any number of people you would see at the Dinkytowner or the Triple Rock. The music is a moody bastardization of drum 'n' bass and "Hand Clapping Song" by New Orleans greats the Meters--produced by Lazerbeak, a.k.a. Aaron Mader from the Plastic Constellations. "I've been your ride the last few years/I've seen you through when no one's there," P.O.S. croons to his private club gone national. Thanks, man.
P.O.S. appears on "We Don't Honor That Shit," from Moochy C, I Know What I'm Worth (self-released), 2007
Paper Tiger, False Hopes (Doomtree), 2007
Doomtree, False Hopes (Doomtree), 2007
Doomtree, Doomtree (Doomtree), 2008
Hand Over Fist, Mike Mictlan & Lazerbeak Are Hand Over Fist (Doomtree), 2008
Cecil Otter, Rebel Yellow (Doomtree), 2008
Doomtree, Doomtree Blowout DVD (Doomtree), 2008; contains unreleased tracks [*I don't have this]
P.O.S. appears on "The Assassination," from Trama, Barack OTrama: The Mixtape (K.E.P.), 2008
Dessa appears on "Change Is Coming" (ft. Dessa of Doomtree and New MC of Kanser), from Heiruspecs, Heiruspecs (Heiruspecs), 2008
P.O.S., "Drumroll" video online, 2009: video shot at the Glenwood bottling company, Minneapolis; clearer version at MTV
Book: Dessa, Spiral Bound, subtitled "A Short Collection by Dessa" (Doomtree Press), 2009
Sims, False Hopes 14, available only on iTunes for now (thanks for the heads up, Jeff Marshall)
P.O.S., Never Better (Doomtree/Rhymesayers), 2009
From a review in Las Vegas City Life (2/11/09):
Yet the saving grace of this husky-throated motormouth turns out to be a fine singing voice. (That was him backing Rhymesayers labelmate Atmosphere on tour last year.) To the stop-start cacophony of "The Basics," P.O.S. lends a rich, funky hook containing the line, "We don't need nothing you're selling." It's his jingle for the jingle-resentful, and more than high-schoolers will buy.
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