For over a decade now, Doomtree's crew albums and solo projects have translated into an output that's rare even alongside their indie rap contemporaries.
This week, the discography got even larger with the long-awaited release of All Hands, but that's not the only grouping of songs that deserves some attention. Gimme Noise has assembled five lesser-known Doomtree tracks that stand alongside the crew's finest hours.
Cecil Otter "Lakeshore Drifter" (2004)
There's some wonderful gritty warmth about those early 2000s underground rap releases. That first generation of Doomtree False Hopes releases really capture this energy, and Cecil Otter's "Lakeshore Drifter" screams of the sound that was evolving in the northern climate of the Midwest underground scene at this time. Vivid imagery, a cold groove and vocals that invigorate while remaining slick. (Mike) Mictlan & Sims - "Slow Burn" (2006) The place of "Slow Burn" in the Mike Mictlan discography could be interpreted as something of a turning point for his style. On the Sims assisted "Slow Burn," a track whose back-and-forth shows the trademark Doomtree chemistry at its best, Mictlan's vocal presence is notably stronger than on his 2005 False Hopes release, embracing the power in his vocals' depth, showing a more diverse flow and allow for a more nuanced songwriting. Originally appearing as by just "Sims and Mictlan" on the 2006 Meat Tape mixtape, "Slow Burn" quietly resurfaced on the following years' Doomtree False Hopes release. But longtime fans from the first Blowout and those early shared Sims/Mictlan performances tend to have fond memories of the two getting busy on stage to the track.
Dez and Nobs featuring P.O.S. "Underbelly" (2010)
The Doomtree tours of the mid-2000s that first saw the collective in whole or in part debut in now spots around the country lead to a lot of time on the road and, thus, a lot of writing for new output. While we'll unfortunately probably never hear the announced P.O.S./Mac Lethal album that was recorded during their 2006 tour (and lost due to a hard drive crash), there were a handful of P.O.S.'s collaborations that emerged from this time. One great P.O.S. collaboration from this era was "Underbelly" from Dez and Nobs' woefully underrated Rocky Dennis album. The conversational perspective of P.O.S.'s verse in between the interventional nature of Dez's verses over Nobs' refreshingly analog production makes for a brutally emotive cinematic gauntlet of vulnerability. It also absolutely knocks.
Sims "The Line" (2011)
Sims has had one of the more fascinating artistic trajectories in Doomtree. Originally the most overtly political of the group, his definitively Bush-era work on Lights Out Paris thankfully wasn't the ceiling of the promise he'd always shown from his live performances. In 2011, Sims dropped his sophomore album Bad Time Zoo and, shortly after, the Wildlife EP. Both produced by Lazerbeak, the latter's become somewhat overshadowed, which is a shame especially when it contains "The Line," one of his finest moments as a songwriter. It's one of the strongest translations of Sims' live ability to connect with listeners appearing on record.
Dessa "Dixon's Girl" Live on Cities 97 (2011)
There's a reason why so much Doomtree coverage mentions their live show, as the unit's performances are truly their own beast. Their shows feel like events, and a big part of that is how many different ways they bring their recorded material to life. A good feel for how different these songs become can be heard on Dessa's 2011 performance of "Dixon's Girl" from the 2012 Live on Cities 97 sampler. Having been touring with the song for over two years by that point, the musicality she'd been able to explore and experiment with it shows how the group's relationship with their catalog is an active one.
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