There’s rap that makes you want to light up a spliff. Then there’s rap that makes you want to light up a Molotov cocktail and chuck it toward the next Lamborghini you see cruising down Las Vegas Boulevard.
Minneapolis’ Doomtree tips toward the latter.
The seven-member crew, which performs at the Sayers Club at SLS on October 18, has a knack for bone-rattling production, a disdain for authority and lyrics that rip into you (and require lengthy Rap Genius annotations).
Comprised of emcees Cecil Otter, Dessa, Mike Mictlan, P.O.S, and Sims and producers Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger, each member of the crew has his (or her, in Dessa’s case) own voice, style and disparate influences (“I’m really real, half Built to Spill, half Kill at Will,” Sims raps on “Gray Duck”), yet they maintain a cohesive, impenetrable bond.
“We’re friends first,” P.O.S. says. “It’s always been friendship, music, business, in that order. We’ve never really tried anything else, never really thought about it.”
It’s a good thing, then, that they’re good at what they do.
Armed with a punk energy and ethos, Doomtree has done things on their own terms for more than 10 years, running their own label, throwing a music festival and releasing a 500-page book of their history. Their latest outing, All Hands, stands out as one of their best works yet and builds on their gritty sound, featuring more electronic productions and epic hooks.
“I don’t think anyone has ever said, ‘This is how it has to be’ so much as that’s kind of who we all are,” P.O.S. says of the band’s music. “Outside of the Doomtree crew music, Dessa will make some things that are bordering on straight-up pop music and Lazerbeak thinks of things in terms of straight-up pop music but even those two come from being fans of harder music, or just things that are generally aggressive.”
Having spent the last year on the road, Doomtree is now on a “victory lap” with their Off in the Deep tour, hitting a few spots they didn’t get to the first time around. That means Las Vegas will finally get hip to what the Midwest and die-hard indie rap fans have known for years: that Doomtree is one of the sharpest, electrifying hip-hop groups out today. And they’re not holding back when they get here, either.
“Everyone’s putting their balls on the table. Except Dessa; she doesn’t have balls,” P.O.S. says.
9 p.m. Oct. 18, The Sayers Club at SLS, $22, 702-761-7618, TheSayersClubLV.com.
Doomtree’s Visual Vault
With a style and aesthetic uniquely their own, Doomtree complements their music with striking, often dark and quirky videos. Here are five of our favorites:
P.O.S., “Drumroll” (2009)
Never heard or seen anything by Doomtree? Start here. Drawing heavily from post-apocalyptic flick Children of Men, P.O.S. raps his way through a warzone over frenetic drums.
P.O.S., “Optimist (We Are Not For Them)” (2009)
There’s a lot to love about this song—the message, the lyrics, the plastic cup-sampling beat, the screamo hook at the end—but the video brings it home with its beautifully crafted, Michel Gondry-like animations.
Dessa, “Dixon’s Girl” (2010)
I’m not sure what’s going on in this noir-ish video. There are people in masks and a body being dragged through the snow as Dessa sings her infectious hook (It’s not much, but my money’s on you) in what looks like the 1940s. Whatever it is, I like it.
Doomtree, “Final Boss” (2015)
Way darker than the videogame-referencing title suggests, the bloody video features Sims, Dessa, P.O.S., and Mike Mictlan at a dinner table as they’re are picked off one-by-one.
Mike Mictlan, “CLAPP’D” (2015)
This one’s tough to watch. Mike takes a beating from a pair of cops for four minutes before flashing a series of staggering stats about gun violence. Word is that his live performance of the song is equally intense.